I've been a 'Knowledge Philanthropist' with Vantage Point in Vancouver now for six years. I do workshops on not-for-profit governance. It's been a good year for Vantage Point - new staff, new programs, new partnerships, and increased revenues. One of the partnerships is with the City of Vancouver in cultivating excellence in not-for-profit leadership in the city. In evaluating the pilot projects, participants said that the most effective way to develop leadership capacity in the sector was to provide professional leadership coaching.
That was music to my ears. I've been coaching professionally now for 12 years, since completing the coaching program at Royal Roads University in 2002. I've taught in and directed an ICF-accredited professional coach training program. I teach coaching skills for managers/leaders at Douglas College. And I've earned the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) designation from the International Coach Federation, where I also serve as a Mentor Coach for those seeking their professional credentials. It's fair to say that a coaching approach shapes all my work - my speaking, my facilitation, my consulting, and, obviously, my coaching.
|A coaching client ponders a provocative question|
When Douglas College invited me to develop the skills course, it gave me an opportunity to review the best of the 'chord/core charts' for coaching that I had encountered and compose my own variation and improvisation on them. Here's the acronym that I use at the college, as well as in keynotes and master classes elsewhere:
Curious about aspirations
Optimistic about possibilities
Attentive to strengths
Creative with barriers
Hearty in execution
It's about asking rather than telling and about being curious about positive aspirations. In jazz, it's 'call and response.' One player, any player, calls out an idea and the others respond by adding their own ideas. As that conversation progresses, new ideas emerge and new levels of capacity and impact are achieved.
It's about being resilient in the face of challenges and always seeing them as opportunities for transforming the way you do things, individually and together. In spite of how you feel at times, you are not stuck in your current way of being. With focus, imagination, and application, you can change the way your brain works and improve your life. Jazz musicians do it all the time, finding new ways to improvise and create in every performance.
It's about identifying and building on the strengths and capabilities people bring to the common endeavor. Jazz musicians pay careful attention to adapting to the strengths of those they are playing with and shifting their styles to synchronize all their strengths to generate a pleasing performance for the audience.
It's about being resilient in the face of obstacles, not letting problems define reality and stifle your potential. Change will happen and positive change is your choice. Inviting conversations that create a range of options keeps the attention on aspirations, possibilities, and strengths. Jazz musicians are always running up against their limitations and pushing beyond them, with the encouragement and support of each other. That's where creative music happens - on the stage, at work, and in life.
It's about being both encouraging and robust. A flourishing presence is infects the space and those in it with health and wholeness. Developing a discipline that sustains and enhances such health is crucial. Jazz musicians practice, and practice, and practice some more, all in the service of developing a unique 'sound' that can inspire and move their playing partners to greater and greater heights.
Coaching - at least my coaching - is a lot like jazz. It's a conversation (and that is the most common form of jazz in human experience) about perspectives, possibilities, and performance.