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International Coaching Week

 

We at Blue Mesa Coaching love coaching. And as we celebrate International Coaching Week, we reflect on what it is about coaching that makes us love it so much.

Our tagline is “Elevate your potential”. To be human is to yearn, grow and reach for greater insights and awareness. Coaching has a distinctive approach that allows people to find that seed within that needs to be nourishment to grow into what it is meant to become.

We think that coaching is particularly unique. The International Coach Federation defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. 

Imagine having the privilege of engaging in a conversation with another to partner, provoke new thinking that is creative which inspires another to find their greatness. We get to do that each and every day.

No wonder we love coaching so much.

We welcome your thoughts about your experience with coaching – whether you’ve coached or been coached.

Happy International Coaching Week!

 

 

A Reflection on the Importance of Awareness of Standards

A few weeks ago, I had a startling revelation about awareness of standards over a hamburger with a friend.

I had a coupon for a free meal that I redeemed at the cash register and told the cashier, “I don’t want the soda.” She replied, “I can upgrade your fries if you would like. You could get a mix of the parmesan and buffalo flavoring…Parmalo.” I was feeling adventurous so I accepted her offer. I did not like the spicy sensation as I ate the first Parmalo fry. I whined to my friend, “These French fries are too spicy,” he ate one and said, “these aren’t spicy.” It hit me, my standard for spicy was different than my friend’s standard for spicy.

So, what do standards for spicy food have to do with coaching and leadership?

Misunderstanding is bound to happen if I assume my standards for spicy (or collaboration, or engagement, or open communication, or good) are the same as yours.

Coaching to Standards:

Recently, I had a client who wanted a direct report to be more relaxed in meetings.

Client-“I just want her to be more relaxed in our meetings.”

Coach-“What do you mean by relaxed?”

Client-“Well, you know how we talk right now.”

Coach-“How would you describe how we are talking?”

Client-“You are candid with me, joke around and don’t shy away from giving me feedback. There is an easy ebb and flow to our conversation. You know relaxed.”

Coach-“How do you think she would define relaxed?”

Through our conversation, he developed awareness for his standard for ‘relaxed’ in meetings. Hence, with this awareness of his standard for relaxed, he can adjust his expectations or explain more directly to the individual the tone that he prefers in their conversations.

As a leader, it is vital to be aware of your standards and know that those you lead probably have a different judgment or orientation. As a coach, awareness of your own standards and inquiry into your client’s standards for key words will reveal a multitude of possibilities.

Remember, spicy for me may not mean spicy for you.

-Jason Veliquette

Feedback-A Gift Best Served with Specificity

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This is a wonderful time of year when you may give or receive gifts. My colleague Pat Barlow has said, “Feedback is a gift.” It may sting, but the gift it offers is a chance for development. Also, the more specific the feedback, the more useful it can be.

I’ve been thinking about feedback recently as I have completed the International Coach Federation’s (ICF) Professional Coach Certification Assessor training. Part of my training was to submit markings of various recordings and receive feedback on my assessing skills. What a gift. The assessment system has 47 specific behavioral markers that relate to the behaviors expected of a professional coach. This is a prime example of how ICF stands for excellence in coaching. Blue Mesa Group’s Transformational Coaching Program aligns with ICF specifically, we share the value of excellence in coaching. Blue Mesa Group has two PCC Assessors and one MCC (Master Certified Coach) assessor.

Why does this matter?

Feedback with the Shared Specific Language increases Effectiveness

Blue Mesa Group has integrated this new system of assessing into our coach training programs. It offers all of our assessors and participants a shared specific language in which to give and receive feedback. For example when I hear a coach ask a question that seems as if it creates an ‘aha’ moment, I can link it to a specific behavioral marker in the Core Competency of Creating Awareness -, “Coach invites client to state and/or explore his/her learning in the session about her/his situation (the what).” My assessment becomes unmistakable by linking it to that behavioral marker. The result is that our participants can quickly notice their behaviors and address her/his learning edges.

Excellence in Coaching

Next, this new system creates a clear shared ‘bar’ across all coach training organizations accredited by ICF, which increases the value of the Professional Certified Coach designation. When you meet a coach with an ICF PCC you know the coach has met the requirements established by ICF.

By experiencing the ICF assessor training, I have become a better coach. I am more aware of my opportunities for improvement and have specific language and behaviors for my on-going development in my pursuit of excellence.

Feedback is a gift best served with specificity.

Our Virtual Transformational Coaching Program begins in February. We are hosting a free live webinar for those who want more information. (Click Here)

Operation Excellence

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A recent ICF communiqué reviews the impressive accomplishments of our ICF Global Board. All of us should be proud of the work that all of the ICF Boards have done since our early years. We have gone from a handful of coaches to over 29,000 members. Thanks to the dedication of our past leaders, we have a strong foundation upon which to stand.

It is my distinct honor to have been nominated to the ICF Global Board. Of the 6 of us nominated, 4 will be elected by you, the ICF members. Voting deadline is this Friday, November 11.

The future plans for ICF are well articulated in the Strategic Plan. As we grow, it is incumbent upon the Board to stand for operational excellence so these plans are well implemented. As an experienced leader, I have consistently put plans into meaningful action. If elected, I will use my skills and abilities to help ICF continue to effectively implement our plan. If you believe I can represent you, please vote for me.

-Micki McMillan

ICF Core Competencies – A Framework for ICF Global Board Conversations

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When Board members represent 28,000 members, there are bound to be different points of view about what is best for the membership. In these differences, there is wisdom and the best answer for the good of the whole.

As coaches, we have an effective framework for having conversations among us – the Core Competencies. From building trust and intimacy to getting agreement, listening, questioning, direct communication, creating new awareness – we have the tools necessary for getting to the best solutions for the myriad issues we will face.

I am honored to be a candidate for the ICF Global Board of Directors. And if elected, I know that we Board members will have robust and thorough conversations so that our decisions are sound. Knowing that all of us are well practiced in the Core Competencies, I can imagine the conversations will be deep, focused, and healthy.

As an ICF member, you can elect your Board. Please vote, and if you think I can represent you, I would appreciate your vote.

-Micki

My Grandmother – A Wise Woman of Leadership – Part 2

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Yesterday, I wrote part 1 of this 2 part blog about my grandmother. She was my hero. As a child, she was my best friend, and to this day she remains my mentor, teacher, role model, and the wisest person I’ve ever known. Although she died in 1980, her influence on me remains strong, and I feel her presence every day.

This is the continuation of the letter I received from her when I began my first job out of college – a high school teacher. The lessons in it are timeless, and have been foundational to my leadership development. I hope you enjoy.

My Darling:

Above all, don’t waste time in your job. It can never be replaced. Cherish and develop your many talents, but here you must select, so you don’t go galloping down any attractive indirect by-path.

When you have become adept in all the things I have mentioned, and mastered them, Don’t get complacent. Some one is sure to puncture your balloon if you do.

Cultivate professional friendships and honor those relationships with your word of honor. We all need one another, and the best way to be trusted and respected is for you to trust and respect.

 Finally, remember that I’m very proud of you. You have been very brave and faced many difficulties. And you’ve LEARNED! Everyone has difficulties. It is best to ride the punches instead of beating yourself against a stone wall. Submit when you must. Remember, as John Paul Jones intoned, “The battle is just begun.” There’s always more than one way to solve a problem.

Remember I am with you, always backing you up.

Love,

Grandma

Thanks for letting me share a bit about a woman whom I cherish and love. She was wise and insightful, and the lessons she taught me have carried me through many a challenge.

If you are an ICF member, please vote in the ICF Global Board elections. The last day for voting is November 11. And if you believe I would represent you well, I hope you will cast one of your votes for me.

In gratitude,

Micki

My Grandmother – A Wise Woman of Leadership – Part 1

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My grandmother was my hero. As a child, she was my best friend, and to this day she remains my mentor, teacher, role model, and the wisest person I’ve ever known. Although she died in 1980, her influence on me remains strong, and I feel her presence every day.

I was cleaning my desk this morning and found a letter she wrote to me when I began my first professional job as a high school teacher. It seemed fitting that as I write about leadership and the ICF Global Board, that I let her write today’s blog. Her perspective is timeless, and her wisdom profound.

It’s a long letter, and I’ll divide it into two blogs – one for today, one for tomorrow. I hope you enjoy.

My Darling:

It is not every day, nor every week, nor every moth, nor every year that I write you a serious letter. But what I have to say you already know as well, if not better than I. It is much easier to write it than to say it. The spoken word can never be recalled – the written letter can be thrown into the wastebasket and forgotten. It does not even require that you read it. But here goes!

Start your new job with confidence, determined to work conscientiously, which I know you have always done with every responsibility you have assumed. Put your duty before any of the lesser and perhaps more attractive activities that ten to distract and detract from your performance. 

I have always considered a job an honor, which you can develop to your own, and your employer’s benefit and profit.

Work with peace, the basis of which is good organization and patience. Avoid contradicting your associates, telling them how to do things your way. Let them learn on their own.

When they ask for advice or opinions is the time to answer them being miserly in dispensing such wisdom. I have always found the smartest answer in dealing with the public is “I don’t know”. The truth is, is that they have the best answers within themselves. If you listen and ask a key question, you can help them to access those answers. 

It seems that my grandmother, who was born in 1888, was a coach long before ICF!

Thank you for letting me introduce you to my grandmother. You would have liked her.

If you are an ICF member, please be sure to vote for this year’s ICF Global Board of Directors. I am pleased to be one of six who have been nominated, and hope to be elected as one of your Board members.

-Micki

Transparency – Foundational to Trust

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It is an honor to have been nominated to the slate of Directors for the ICF Global Board. I very much want to serve our profession in this role.

As ICF matures, we have to assess what makes us great, and what will keep ICF as the premier global professional coach organization. An old mentor of mine told me that every year an organization should eliminate one policy and then have a public memorial service for it – as a way to keep the organizational fresh and resilient.

One way ICF is addressing such policies is by reviewing the credential process. And it should. What defined excellence in 1997 is very different from what maybe true today. We are global, and in turn, must make the credentialing policies appropriate to all of our members.

And the credential isn’t just for us coaches. It is for our consumers in the marketplace. This consumer orientation is a critical point of view that ICF is looking at. By tending to the consumer, all of us coaches will be even better served.

If elected, I promise to be honest, transparent and courageous in engaging in such conversations with ICF members. It isn’t easy to change, particularly when it means I am the one who needs to do so. But if I understand it, I’m more likely to abide by it. True for you, too? Transparency and trust are foundational to understanding, and I’m committed to being true to transparency as one of my core values.

-Micki

Lessons in leadership – a bicycle crash

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A couple of years ago I was on an epic autumn bicycle ride with a good friend. We were taking in the colorful leaves, crisp air, and conversing about how lucky we were to be out riding instead of being inside. Being so full of joy, and taking in all of the beauty around me, I took for granted that the road beneath me was solid, soon I hit a pothole, and was on the ground.

Besides a bad case of road rash and a broken helmet, I was not hurt. But my confidence was rattled.

But not wanting to waste a good life lesson, I considered the parallel between my accident and my leadership lessons. Here are a few:

  • Leaders have to keep their eye on the big picture, but wary of the short term snags that can distort or even change the big picture. (Good cyclers enjoy the scenery but must always watch for hazards).
  • Leaders have to enjoy the process and people, but must remember the core principles of the organization, and lead from that position. (Good cyclers ride with confidence, but safety always trumps distraction).
  • Even if leaders are doing everything they can for the good of the organization, outside influences can impact future success. (Good cyclers might do everything right, but a tire blow out or a darting squirrel can take a bicycle down).
  • Leadership can be complex and confounding, just like cycling. There are no perfect leaders, but the best leaders are those who embrace their own humanity and do their best in spite of the outside challenges.

I’m running for the ICF Global Board, and if elected, I promise to apply my life lessons in leadership to support coaches worldwide to be successful. Please vote, and if think I can be one of your leaders, I’d appreciate your vote.

-Micki

Go Coach Joe

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Do you cringe when you hear a leader tell another to go and coach someone to…? We coaches know what coaching really is and isn’t. The ICF definition of coaching is what we understand so well. And it is not only inspirational, but heartfelt. In case you haven’t read it for a while, here it is:

Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

 

ICF plays a big role in advancing this definition, and there’s plenty of work left to do. How can we welcome communities that yearn to have a coaching culture, yet don’t know what it is or how to do it?

ICF is 20 years old – still young, yet mature enough to expand our view of who can be a coach. For example, what if we had a credentialing process for Manager as Coach? Imagine having organizational leaders who know what coaching is, and demonstrate competencies that bring the definition of coaching to life?

I’m running for the ICF Global Board of Directors. And if elected, I’d like to start a conversation about the other communities who should be a part of us – like these leaders who live and breath the coaching definition as we hold it.

-Micki