Dr Paul Lawrence

Become Your Own Personal Authority Through Systemic Coaching

Become Your Own Personal Authority Through Systemic Coaching

Dr Paul Lawrence

Principal at Leading Systemically

Dr Paul Lawrence

Paul is a leadership development consultant, coach, coach supervisor, and researcher. He founded his new company Leading Systemically in late 2021.

He designs and delivers leadership programs, including coaching skills programs and programs in teaming excellence. He has more than 4,500 coaching hours experience, working with leaders across a diverse range of industries. He is a trained coach supervisor, having trained at Oxford Brookes University.

Before moving into consulting and coaching, He enjoyed a 15-year corporate career performing leadership roles in the UK, Australia, Spain, Portugal & Japan, with responsibilities for other markets across Europe & South-East Asia. I have experience in corporate strategy, organisational development, marketing, operations, finance & HR.

He is an Honorary Research Associate at Oxford Brookes University and conducts an ongoing program of research into leadership, coaching and change. He has authored more than a dozen academic articles and book chapters, and four books.

He is currently working on his fifth book with the working title ‘The Wise Leader’. This book will challenge contemporary perspectives on leadership and leadership development, offering organisations practical guidance in enhancing collective leadership capacity.

Take home these learnings

1. Understanding Leadership development
2. Building an environment of openness
3. Decoding systematic coaching
4. Understanding hindrances while building coaching in an organization

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Episode Transcript:

INTRO: We have seen leadership from various dimensions, we have spoken about leadership challenges in our last episodes, we have spoken about the traits which are important for a leader to demonstrate to lead a team. Let’s take this conversation to the next level and look at what it means to look at an organisation from a systemic point of view. How can we look at an organisation or a challenge in hand from different levels to make sense of the same. Welcome ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the podcast the xMonks Drive. I am your host Gaurav Arora and our today’s guest is Dr. Paul Lawrence. Paul is an authority in Systemic Coaching, an Author/ co-author of 4 books including “Leading Change” , “Coaching in three Dimensions” coaching systemically and is working on his fifth book . Let’s hear from the master and take a deeper dive into Coaching and those unexplored aspects of what it means to Coach and lead Systematically. OUTRO//: My key take aways from this episode are: First one: “When we talk about aircraft engines, and we're talking about machines or components, human beings are not passive components, human beings make their own sense of things.” Second one: “Every time you are expecting a change to happen in an organisation, Go and talk to people find out what's really going on.” change emerges from conversation What are your key insights, reflections and learning. Do share them with us. Also, please do leave a comment and rate this episode and I look forward to meeting you next time week with yet another interesting conversation. Till then please take care and stay tuned. 0:01 Thank you so much, Dr. Paul, Paul Lawrence, for joining us in this conversation today. Such a pleasure to have an authority like yours to talk about coaching. Thank you so much for joining us. 0:13 Now, thanks for inviting me. You're. 0:16 So Dr. Paul 0:19 is going pro. Sure, Paul. Paul, help me understand how did coaching happen to you? That's one of the questions that I often ask. So mainly, we'll take you through a few decades back. 0:31 So how did it happen to you? 0:35 And well, I was I've always been interested in people. My first degree was in psychology and I did a PhD in psychology. And then I went off into business and I worked in corporate for about 20 years. And basically what I was doing was working in startup businesses and turnaround businesses and in those businesses, you have to get the people side right. You're relatively small organizations within the biggest organization, you absolutely rely on people to get it right. And so, I found myself doing a lot of what we now call coaching. And as part of the role without really understanding that there was a coaching industry, this is a while ago now. And what I found is towards the end of my career there, I worked in Spain, Portugal, Japan, but I found what I found was the end of my career was the people side actually was the bit of the job that I really enjoyed. And the rest of it, I enjoyed less. And so I moved into a global ad role for BP, where we were running this massive leadership development program across the globe, and and came across some some good coaching folks there and just got interested in it and and eventually, when was it 13 or 14 years ago now, you know, moved into this industry as a as a as a professional, so called professional coach, leadership developer and so on. So that's, that's in a nutshell. That's what happened for me. 2:00 Thank you, Paul, you know, would love to hear from the kind of work that you are doing that you have done the last 1314 years. But let's take the first step first. You work with individuals, you work with teams, you work with organizations, you work with leaders and teams right. Now, what is your approach to leadership development? How do you look at that? And, 2:24 yeah, there's a lot of really good stuff written about leadership development. And there's a lot of stuff, which I 2:28 think is not so good. And 2:34 leadership development, what is leadership development, the, in many organizations, and Ralph Stacy writes about this. What's really going on here is is that the senior folks in the organization wants their people to behave in a certain way. And so we send people off to courses and teach them how to how to manage people basically in order to deliver the message. So it's quite A top down approach. And I think that kind of gets confused because we talk about things like authenticity, for example. And we say we want our leaders to be authentic and autonomous. But in many organizations actually we don't what we really want is our leaders to be behaving in a very particular way we want we design leadership competency frameworks, which is about how you need to behave as a leader in this organization, we, we have values framework, she says, and this is these are the values you need to display. So it's actually quite, we actually sort of unpacked all the traditional development agenda is really quite it's quite directive and and so you have this thing, which I call the leadership paradox, which is, on the one hand, we're saying to leaders, you need to be authentic and autonomous and doodle in a find yourself. And, by the way, we want you to come to this leadership course and this is the way we want you to behave. 3:54 And these are the set of competencies that you need to adhere to. This is how you should be doing things and yeah 4:00 That's that's a very directive word, a legend a bonus, I don't actually think in today's world is very effective. Again, I'd encourage people if you're interested in this stuff to redraw Stacy's work. He says, You can't program. You can't program a leader to be a leader by teaching them 10 competencies any more than actually you can program a coach to be a coach by teaching the 10 competencies. And what what he calls it what he calls leadership development is what he suggests is the essence of leadership development is the development of practical 4:31 judgment. 4:33 And I think this idea is becoming more popular now as we as complexity in which Rob pricing just becomes more evident. covert is a great example of that. And practical judgment says the world is complex. So you walk into any given scenario, then nobody can tell you what the answer is. You cut it, there's it's kind of intuitive, but that intuition is going to be more powerful, the more the greater is your practical judgement. So essentially, what is leadership development, I think it's about questioning people, challenging people to define for themselves what it means to be a leader, and giving them the opportunity to go and work in this complex world, and kind of learn through doing and creating the space to reflect on that. And so when we talk about leadership development as a two day workshops, and three day workshops, that those things that they tend to excite people, and there's a reason for that. And whereas, you know, if a leadership development program is go do this stuff that you're already doing, let's not create additional projects that go do this stuff that you're already doing, and if and, and let's support you with that reflective process. And individual coaching, therefore fits beautifully into leadership development, and so does group coaching. And because we group coaching, which is where I think it really hits, you're really hitting the nail on the head in terms of leadership development, where you get a group of five or six people together leaders who are all going through this stuff, you can form these beautiful groups, which can we support each other 5:59 as long as you're on You know, the coaches providing 6:01 that lovely reflective space and the reflective space is hard these days because people are just so busy, busy, busy. 6:07 Yeah. Yeah. And also no one is people are very busy. And the second one is the kind of competitiveness and the kind of reactive tendencies we all operate from. So when you are working with a group of leaders, how do you ensure that you have been able to build a culture you have been able to build an environment is the right word, if I may, where people are willing to open up where people are willing to share what they are going through, with their contemporaries, with with people they might be meeting with? 6:34 Yeah, so there's a lot of language around that. And, and so people will talk about the need to create psychological safety. Yeah. And there's a lot of stuff written about dialogue, which is actually my capacity to engage in dialogue is what defines my capacity to be an effective leader. Dialogue can only happen if you're if you're creating somewhere that's psychologically safe. And so as a group coach or a team coach, And of course, as an individual coach, one of the things I'm trying to do, my role is to help create that space in which people feel safe to be vulnerable. Yeah. And However, if and this depends on your purpose, as a coach, if your purpose is to help an organization and not have the or you know, because you're not going to go and coach here within your organization, then then you need to help the organization itself become aware of the significance of psychological safety. And you need out leaders develop the capacity to to create that psychological safety in their teams and groups. Which is hard for people to see. And, you know, you go through most organizations and through that lens, you can see that, that psychological safety is often absent. 7:46 Yeah, yeah. And you spoke about dialogue, and you are doing a lot of work in that space. Right. Tell me more about what's so unique. What's so specific about dialogue that actually works? 7:59 Yeah, so So 8:00 a lot of the early stuff around dialogue is written by Bill Isaacs and David bone. And what they did what Bill Isaac's does is is let's be clear what we're talking about here. 8:10 When you talk about dialogue to a client, 8:13 or anybody out, you know, I noticed people's eyes glaze over because you just got to talk to people right but have conversation Isaac's is quite, you know, he defines quite neatly to differentiate between dialogue and other types of conversation. And other types of conversation 8:27 include debate, obviously, 8:30 but also skilled, slight skilled conversation. And there's a big difference between skill conversation and dialogue. Skill conversation is what we see a lot of in organizations where I have a particular view and a particular agenda, and you have a particular view and a particular agenda and we're very skilled at effectively negotiating and and we have a lovely conversation, we end up with an outcome that we can both align to, and it was lovely and we go out for drinks afterwards. That's not that that's not to say, it's not A perfectly appropriate and effective conversation in many contexts. It is so's debate. 9:05 But dialogue is where I'm going into a conversation. 9:09 Almost agenda less, 9:12 okay. into this conversation deeply curious to understand the other people's perspectives in the room. 9:19 Hmm. And that is a lot harder to do then. 9:24 And then described because if I'm going to go in their agenda lists, and I'm not going to bring prejudice and I'm not going to bring unconscious bias, then I need to be aware of all that stuff. And of course, I'm not aware of unconscious bias by definition. So to be able to go into a conversation, knowing what my agenda is, every aspect of my agenda is impossible. So pure dialogue is impossible, but it's about going in there with a mindset of I'm just curious, I just want to know, and when somebody says something, I disagree with unpacking that. Okay, I'm not, the less just follow that follow that. Like to understand that more. So it's about that It's about a particular form of listening. And it's about saying that thing that needs to be said, it's not just about listening. But I'm saying that thing that needs to be said with respect. And by that, I mean, you may have a different view to me, but I'm expressing my view as my truth. And there's still room in this conversation for your truth. And that's the essence of dialogue. And that what dialogue enables which skill conversation doesn't is the emergence of something completely new that wasn't there before. Whereas your conversation will end up with happy as we are is always going to be a bit of your stuff and a bit of my stuff. Yeah, there is. No, I wrote a lot about dialogue, dialogue. And, but but I think in the context of thinking about change and systems, Boehm says dialogues impossible. So let's forget about it. Because within an organization, everybody's got an agenda. But I don't think it's that binary because you can still go into a conversation with the intention of doing your best to engage in dialogue, and that's going to be a more open conversation than the Don't bother. Yeah, but all we need to go into those conversations without just attuned into what the power dynamics are and how they're playing out. And and so that is all we have to do, right? We just go in with dialogue and be attuned to the power dynamics. That, of course, is very challenging and very hard. 11:19 Yeah. And while I was listening to you, the word that came to my mind was absolutely the same that you spoke about emergence. In a day before yesterday, I was talking to a friend of mine, he's a business coach based out of us. His name is john Spence, I'm sure you would have heard of him. Now. I was just talking to him. And john mentioned that when he was the CEO of Rockefeller Foundation, and then now he has been a practicing coach for several years. I was just curious to understand from john, I said, john, what has been your key learning? He said, moving from a space of that I know I'm right. To a space that I know I might be wrong, and I have an opinion. Yeah. And he said when I started to move from I know that I'm right to moving space that I know that I have an opinion. Let me just listen to the other person. Everything started to emerge. 12:10 Exactly. When I was listening to you, the same words were resonating in my mind. 12:16 Hmm. Well, 12:18 you see, I did some research, What year are we into 2008, about four or five years ago where I spoke to 50 leaders around the world, half of whom were CEOs, and we're asking them similar types of questions around. Tell me about changes that worked. tell you about change at work, and what was it that made it work and what emerged from all of those conversations? The common theme was dialogue is the capacity to listen and the courage to say that thing that needs to be 12:40 said a lot of leaders. Yeah, 12:43 we know this. We know a lot of leaders struggle with giving feedback. We know we have this whole language around difficult conversations. It's about saying that thing that needs to be said respectfully, and that's just as hard 12:56 You know, for people who are willing to get into this space of engaging with the other person in a dialogue? What are the what are the basic traits which are required for those leaders? And 13:09 one of the traits, it's I think it says it's about mindset as much as anything else. 13:15 And, and, and self awareness. So, So to what extent do I believe in the significance of dialogue? And 13:26 to what extent do I think that's an important thing to even try and do? Question number one? And if I if I, if I hold a mindset, a principle around leadership, which is that in organizations, people who are here, I suppose to know more than the people that know here, that they're supposed to have all the answers, these people have all the questions, it's unlikely I'm going to be going into dialogue because I'll be taking into with me that that narrative that says it's my job to know all the answers, get my ducks in a row, the answers I'm just going to be listening to speak. So there's a whole piece about fundamental piece around mindset, what do I What do I? How do I define leadership? And then the second piece, which is required, which is a kind of just a never ending journey, which is self awareness, as I say, to be aware of the inner voices that are telling us that we think we know the answer, we're going to know those inner voices, we've got to know what our hot buttons are, we've got to know what our prejudices are, we've got to, we've got to kind of become more and more aware of our biases, such that our pool of unconscious bias just shrinks, but it never goes away. So there's a belief system in here and I said, it's actually don't we can teach skills, but it's not primarily about skill. It's about mindset and belief in your own personal approach to leadership. 14:39 Yeah, where you're operating from, as you mentioned, the way you define leadership, and the way you define leadership is dependent on the context that you are living from. And that's going to define the behaviors that you're going to demonstrate if you'd be willing and open to get into the dialogue. Or you'd still be holding your own biases as you're talking about, and then get into that. 14:58 lock on situation. 15:01 Yeah, support what according to you are the major challenges that you have witnessed and leaders that have worked with them in so many years? 15:11 And 15:14 we can talk about challenge and 15:16 we can, there's all sorts of different challenges that leaders tend to find hard at different stages of their career. Essentially, again, this comes back to how we're defining leadership and the essence of leadership, I think is around our capacity to work effectively with other people. You know, we that we sometimes there are some leaders and we very much respect their intellectual capacity, their capacity to problem solve, and that's wonderful. And, and for some we might include that in leadership but leadership as I'm as I think about it, is my capacity to engage effectively with other people. And, and that comes back to your philosophy of change and my own philosophy of changes. No GS comes from a sort of particular thinking around systems, his change emerges from the interaction between people. You can't direct change, you can't mandate change. Change emerges from the interaction between people. So if I'm as a senior leader, and I'm looking to change my organization, I need to first thing I need to recognize my organization can only change itself. I can't control it. That's the biggest threaten all of this leaders is you don't get to control stuff, but you don't. But what I can do is influence it. All I can do is influence it. And it comes back to what we've just been talking about. If I want to leave my organization in certain direction, the first thing I need to do is to be open to the idea that maybe the right direction is a slightly different direction than what I have in mind. The second is deeply curious about all of the different people in my organization and what they're thinking what they're feeling. The third thing I have to do is the courage to actually go out and speak my pace. Not because I'm trying to persuade you of anything because I'm sharing with you what I feel and if you don't agree with me, that's good. I'm just going to be curious to further understand it. It's what we've just been talking about. And but but with those, but that capacity is becoming even more important, as we try and negotiate all this lovely complexity that's happening. And COVID is a beautiful example you've seen around the world, some wild leaders try to manage this as something they feel personally accountable for some really complex problem, and I'm the one that's supposed to know the answer. And here's my answer, and you all need to agree with me. We've seen that it doesn't work at the need for this. The need to delete in the way that we're talking about here is becoming ever heightened by the way the world's becoming more complex and it's not just about COVID it's about Brexit in Europe, it's about 17:47 you know, it's about it's about everything. 17:51 Precisely, you know, while I was listening to you and other name, which is resonating with me is the kind of work that Dr. Otto Sharma has done And he says that at the bottom of the you, that's where everything starts to happen. And do you do you trust that the answer would come by getting and engaging in a dialogue? 18:13 Yeah, yeah. That's a beautiful 18:15 question to ask yourself in one to one coaching, because as a supervisor or coaches, I know my own approach to coaching is just a belief in process. I don't need to have an agenda. If I if I really just do that. I listen, I in practice, I just listen, I listen, I listen, I try and understand whatever is coming up for me in this conversation, I'm voicing it. None of this coaches only ask questions nonsense. So so I'm voicing it. And over the years, I just know. I just know that an insight and an intention will emerge. I just know it will. 18:51 Yeah. So it's 18:52 in the process. Whereas I know through supervision, there are some coaches that go well if I do 18:56 all that, plus I have not somewhat you will, you will 19:00 Yeah, yeah. You know, I had a friend of mine. His name is Chris and Chris often used to mention that in coaching or in supervision, you get into a dialogue with an intention to just be with that person and hold the space for the other person help may or may not arrive in that moment. Hmm. And that was so beautiful when he mentioned the help, may or may not arrived, that relieved me with so much of tension that I used to hold on my shoulder that I'm getting to a coaching conversation or I'm getting into supervision conversation with the other person, and I have to get the results for that person. Hmm. 19:40 Well, yeah, I agree with you. And what that springs to mind also is a piece around contracting because I don't think coaching is always about dialogue. I think there are there are times when you're he wants something different from you, and was like, Hey, you know what's wrong with giving it all they want? And then again, what some coaches bring to supervision is how do I know that I'm doing a good job? How do I know if they wanted this happen? Unless they wanted that, and the simple answer is ask. You know, if a coaching conversation doesn't seem to be going very well, after half hour, just stop. And so, you know, I just got to from from where I'm 20:11 sitting, this just doesn't seem to be going very well. What do you need from me? Yeah, 20:16 absolutely. Now I'm just taking the conversation to a different level. Because you know, when I know that I'm engaging with Dr. Paul Lawrence, it's really unfair at my end, not to get into that conversation. You know, if you look at the world, and especially the vuca world that we are experiencing right now, it's at a very different degree altogether, right? Where everything is changing at a click of a button. If you look at the environment, we are going through some really tough times as far as the climate conditions are concerned. The society is shaping and reshaping and getting into a different form all together. Where business leaders are coming together they are asking for a systemic approach. 20:55 One is 20:56 you are an authority in systemic coaching. 21:00 If we can just spend some more time and help us understand what do you mean by systemic coaching? And how is it different from the normal coaching process that we engage in, in our day to day conversations with businesses? 21:12 Yeah, so so one thing here is is, so I've been doing a lot of work in that sort of systemic error. And the reason I was kind of felt compelled to do that is I kept hearing this thing about systemic coaching. And then people have started copywriting this thing, systemic coaching and teaching system in coaching. And what was very apparent to me is, is that that phrase, systemic coaching is being used to mean all sorts of different things. In on the one hand, it's being used to me one very simple idea, which is, which is the value of just stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. Yeah, but on the other hand, it's being used to describe some very specific approaches. And many of these these approaches are actually quite different in terms of their underlying ideas and methods or philosophies. And so my my own objective here is not to Be your authority on systemic coaching, I have no desire to be, you know, assist an authority on systemic coaching. The my own kind of mantra here or mission is, is to challenge coaches to when people say being systemic, 22:13 what does that mean to you? 22:15 Because it can mean lots of different things. So become your own personal authority and what systemic coaching is. So someone says to you what systemic coaching, say, Well, here's what I believe it is, and be happy to speak from that space, because you've got a lot of choice. Now, what am I an attempt to make sensible less was to because you can we got to, you've got to get beyond the, let's say, the balcony view. That's kind of what system it needs to take a balcony view, you have a big look at this great big thing, rather than just a fixed on the small issue. That's great. But when you take your balcony view, what lens you're looking through, because there's 101 different lenses you can be looking through because there's more than 101 different systems theories. And what I attempted to do is to categorize them into five different ways of thinking about systems. And you can call everyone I'm going to talk about, you can call it systems thinking. But as you'll see, they're all quite different. And I don't want to go off into a whole long monologue around theory. So let me just try and keep this really simple 23:15 by talking about COVID. Yeah, 23:18 so a first order approach to systems thinking is where I'm basically thinking of the organization as a machine. Okay, as a machine, and my first order linear way of thinking says, here's a machine and, and, and it works. It's pretty simple in the way that it works. It's all quite linear. 23:36 Yeah, yeah, linear, a plus 23:39 C. That's first order linear. Now, if you think about cobit, 23:44 just for my understanding, when you're talking about linear that there is a cause and then there is an effect. If you put you will oxidize it. Got it. 23:52 Yes, exactly. Simple cause and effect. That's, that's lovely. Now COVID the world I'm not gonna name names, but the world leaders who are saying things early on, like, you know what, we've got 10 cases, we're fine. Because if we even if we did nothing, we'd have like maybe 20 cases in three days time, 40 cases, and we close the board, and it's all under control. It's all under control, or all our experts are great experts, all that stuff. And that's an example of first order 24:21 linear. And doesn't it that and that way 24:26 of thinking, now that way of thinking is sometimes fine, right? If I'm, my boss, doesn't like me, because I shout at them all the time, and I stopped adding it, then my boss is probably happy with me so that their way of thinking can be fine. But sometimes it's not an COVID is a good example of that. First Order nonlinear is saying it's still a machine. But to your point, it's not simple cause and effect. It's, it's exponential. And you've got this thing I won't go into but you've got this circular causality. It's much more complex and it's exciting. potential. Now if I'm no fine, a world leader in thinking through that lens, I stand up and I say I've got 10 cases of COVID. Guys, we might have a big problem here, even though we've closed the border, because 10 cases might be 10,000 cases by next Tuesday, because the relationship of this thing is not linear at all. And so 25:24 it's much more complex and mysterious in nature. 25:28 It's not Mysterious, mysterious comes next. 25:32 It's not mysterious. It's just very complicated. And we're going to have integrated an aircraft engine, we're really gonna have to, we're really gonna have to think hard about how this thing works, because it's not immediately obvious. 25:46 so mysterious is fine, but I just use mysterious a second order. Okay. Okay, that's, that's first order nonlinear. And again, we see that and I think we still see a lot of that thinking in in some of the world leaders now today. Yeah, yeah. So it's really it's a nonlinear a, there's, there's places to go here. second order says, Yes, it's a machine. But to your point, how this thing works is mysterious, and we're never going to be able to work it out. Partly because we don't have the capacity to look at things objectively. And we just don't we look at stuff we interpret that becomes our truth. But it's just one truth. Yeah, how can one person possibly diagnose something that's as mysterious as COVID too hard? So what do we need to do here is we need to get lots of different perspectives into the room. Because the more perspectives you've got in the room, the closer we're likely to become, in our interpretation to the fundamental essence of how this machine operates. 26:48 Now, that second order thinking, Okay, and now 26:53 I lovely I've do some work for a professional services organization here very early on who said 26:58 would probably Sort of arrived fairly late in Australia? And she said 27:04 well let's go we need to go straight to China after this and find out what's been going on and what what their what their view is on this we need to go straight to Singapore because you know, they had they had the whole sidebars thing like Canada. So we need to get out there and get all these different perspectives 27:19 on what does it look like? That's more of a second order way of thinking. Yeah. 27:26 That makes sense. It is it is. Absolutely, I can see that how the first order is different from the second order. 27:33 Now, the fourth is when we start getting into theories around complex adaptive systems. Okay, the complex that's going to try and kind of summarize complex adaptive systems in about 30 seconds. What it's basically saying is, is that change emerges from local interactions. Right? 27:49 So clean and well, just from the local interactions, 27:52 and local interactions. So I'll give you an example and cope it again. And you read the newspaper and it says, Wow, you We got the virus and it's going to spread. Now, 28:02 I sit in the pub with my mates. And I say, 28:05 yeah, just like the flu, right? It's just a bad case, flu will be fine. We're just going to keep drinking social distancing, we'll forget about it. And I've got a group of people who are just coming out of the local hospital, all of who have got elderly relatives, who are saying, Wow, we've got to pay attention to this, let's go straight to the shop and put our masks on. And, and so on, and so on. So you've got people will make sense of any change socially with others. And you'll get these little groups forming, who are all coming up with different interpretations of what's going on. And then their reaction and their response will be different. And you have all these different responses mixing with each other, and that's what you're seeing at the high level. Now, if we don't think through the complexity lens, what we just see is chaos, and we go What the hell is just happened here that's just chaotic, completely innocent. With understand, it's chaos, we can't do anything. But if you're looking at it from a black perspective, you go, okay, we need to understand this. We need to go local, we need to understand what's happening locally. Now you think about COVID. I don't know, here. And in the UK, other places too big uproar. When the sun came out. Lots of people went to the beach, and they just packed in, right? They did this on Bondi Beach in Australia, they did it in Bournemouth in the UK, and the government just went, What are these people on? Do they not understand? What are we going to do? We just got to get the big stick out and just make them understand. Okay, that's one way of thinking about it. But that that way of thinking about it implies that we have control, the complexity lens opens up. All I do, you don't get to control anything and positional power is important, but it's overrated. So if you're thinking through that lens, when instead instead of getting or maybe as well as getting very cross it In the taxi to Bondi Beach, because I want to go and talk to all these people on the beach and find out why they're 30:05 there. 30:06 Find out what's going on here. What What is the meaning being made of this that makes it okay to be on the beach. And knowing that beach by the way, you'll have lots of different people who are there for different reasons. So it's that complex. That's a very different way of looking at the looking at the world. 30:24 No, it's absolutely it's making sense, because this is exactly what happens in mergers and mergers and acquisitions happen. Right? The goddesses that actually, the messages that actually reach out to the bottom half of the organization is very different from the the, the, the statement or the declaration that was made at the top end. 30:44 And when I make a different 30:46 interpretation of the message coming my way, I'm going to respond to my worldview rather than looking at the world from your worldview. 30:53 And we do because we're human beings and that's, that's that's where we start getting into questioning the value of comparing The organization to a system, because when we talk about aircraft engines, and we're talking about, you know, machines or components, human beings are not passive components, human beings make their own sense of things. And then we get this thing called resistance to change. And because the leaders say, Look, I've done all the analysis, I've got all the logic, this is what you need to do. And they don't do that. 31:21 Yeah, that is essentially, 31:23 they're not resistant to change. They've just made a whole different meaning of what's going on here. And if you want to be an effective leader, so they're getting a little cross and frustrated, or maybe as well as getting frustrated, 31:33 don't talk to 31:34 with curiosity to understand what's what's how change is happening in your organization. Yeah, 31:41 yeah. And I 31:42 loved your example. Nice, because that's what happens in mergers and acquisitions all the time. Top says this is what's going to happen and it doesn't happen. Why is everyone being so resistant? Yeah. 31:51 Go and talk to people find out what's really going on. 31:54 So Paul, I understand they've already you've already answered that. In fact, you've already given the solution that go into dial with curiosity, 32:03 your tick 32:04 was the same thing you can't engage in dialogue without being curious. 32:08 Yeah. So what is the solution? I mean, it's very easy said than done. How do you actually practice that into your day to day conversations within an organization? How do you practice that? Dialogue? 32:21 that easy? Is that that easy? And, well, here we here again, I think we come back to to, 32:28 to the, to the system stuff that we've just been talking about, and system. But the other way of thinking about systems is that these meta systemic which there is no such thing as a system, there is no such thing as an organization. And there's no such thing as a team. An organization is just a construct that we invent for ourselves. Sometimes it's a useful construct, and sometimes it's not. An organization exists in the sense I have a contract with somebody. But in any other sense, how is it real and it can be very limiting. construct. Because a lot of people spend a lot of their time talking to people who are not part of their organization, they talk to people outside the organization. And in note meaning is made just as much in those conversations as the ones that happen inside the organization. So this notion of organization can limit us, the comparing organisations to systems can limit us and we call that the meta systemic perspective. Because it's not the anti state perspective. It's the meta systemic, which says, these these metaphors like organization system as sometimes useful, great, but just recognize they're not real. Now, if I'm looking at the world through that lens to come back to your question, then I know that and I believe that change emerges from conversation doesn't just emerge from diet change emerges from conversation, then I start thinking about, okay, who needs to be engaged in what conversation? conversations Do I need to be engaged and this is where the systemic piece comes in, because as a leader, I do not have time to engaging in dialogue with everybody just not realistic. And, and as I said before, there's nothing wrong with skill conversation and debate. It's a question of being purposeful about what type of conversation I need to have with who, when. But if I'm looking at emergent change, then I'm going to be looking not only at who do I need to engage in dialogue with, but who else needs to be engaging in dialogue. So it's, it's a dialogue piece, but it's got that whole. And I hesitate to use the word systemic now because it's more about that kind of social network thing to say analysis, 34:32 precisely because there's a lot social network which is involved, and things are going to be very, very adaptive in the moment otherwise will not be able to see the sunshine. 34:42 Yeah, yeah. 34:43 Support. You've also done a lot of work in the space of helping organizations build the coaching culture. Now personally, I have seen I've witnessed most of these, most of so called initiatives to build the coaching culture in few of the best organized In the world, 35:02 I don't see them very successful 35:04 or no, not. 35:06 So what do you think? What is the? What is the biggest hindrance and building the coaching culture? in an organization? 35:12 There's lots of ways of answering that question, but I'm just going to answer it through the same lens, which is ways of thinking about systems. Because the way that the most common way of thinking about systems in organizations is that first order way of thinking, which as we know, works sometimes but it doesn't work when you're trying to change a culture. When we, when we talk about changing culture, what we're trying to do is, is actually change the way that our social networks operate. You don't get to do that. You don't get to tell people to do things differently. And we get to tell them but they don't always agree with you. Now, if you look in some a lot of even academic articles, as well as books, they'll say things like coaching culture is coach the coach the leaders, so they understand what coaching is, and then train middle management. Debbie, right. And you can overlay that with cotton model type stuff, which is saying make the case for change and kind of push people into communicate it, which means tell him what to do. And then, you know, they're always magic at the end, there's embed to change 36:10 it, can you sound linear, that is 36:13 way that so it's easy to talk about what we shouldn't do. 36:16 But what my own attempts, you know, as a consultant to help organizations check in some of those have been successful is is to say, Okay, why are you doing this? What's your purpose? And I'm not asking the organization because there is no such thing as an organization. I'm asking lots of different people in the organization, what we say you want to change your coaching Coach, what do you mean by that? What's the purpose of this? And you will almost always find that if you talk to 10 people, you get 10 different answers. And so it's quite a useful thing to do. To get those depends on who they are, but to start getting people together to have that conversation together in dialogue, from which will emerge a more a more kind of set align purpose, unique purpose, a lot of senior execs in organization Say to their HR department Yeah, go into a coaching culture. 37:03 That's your job. Yeah. And of course, that doesn't work and do the way. 37:08 The other thing is we need to it's what you said before that people don't do what they're told they make sense of stuff. So when we're running coaching skills programs, we run them over at least 10 months. And we start by not telling them what coaching is, we start by asking them what coaching is, we get them to define coaching, what's going to be useful? Definitely, we'll share some thoughts around coaching, but ultimately say, so what in your organization? How would you want to define it for your organization? And if you've got 10 cohorts of people going through it, you'll ask every cohort and then ultimately, you'll get the cohorts to come together and define for themselves what is coaching, recognizing that that definition will change over time. So what is coaching? We then share with them some stuff around listening and some dialogue basically, some stuff for listening and stuff around voicing, yes, we'll do some stuff around growing fear or whatever. But yeah, that's that's that's the last thing you need to worry about. It's not about coaching is not you know, a coaching culture not one where everybody just goes g w it's about your capacity to listen and speak. So if you if we want to help people to to engage in dialogue as I said before, we need to start recognizing this is not just about a skill This is about mindsets and to shift to help somebody shift their mindset not in accord to what you want but in accordance with what their colleagues want. You have to create that ongoing opportunity comes back to real estate is practical judgment piece when people to practice this stuff over time come together with a college Whoa, that didn't go very well. What sense do you make of that and it takes at least 10 months. I you know, you run these things over 10 months and it happens time and time again, people after six months will go well, this coaching stuff. It's not just having a conversation in a room every quarter is it? Yeah, you got it. Yeah, I said that at the beginning but it takes people time to wear 38:57 this coaching stuff. This is stuff that you actually do a day to day, isn't it? And this starts to emerge around six or seven months. But if you just put someone on a workshop, right, and then the other workshop, that year, whatever and they love it, 39:14 but then they're stepping back into the system. And if the system does not support that new behaviour, it's going to take it back 39:21 to introduce. Absolutely, absolutely. If you want to change a coaching culture, you are 39:29 doing culture change. So what is your change philosophy? 39:34 You have you got one if you're trying to do coaching culture without a change philosophy, then you're in the wrong place, because you're just doing a checklist thing. 39:41 Yeah, I've seen it. 39:42 I've seen l&d departments say yeah, we do we do the two day workshops and the rest is up to them. 39:48 Well, you just wasted money on a two day workshop because that's not going to get you anywhere 39:51 because that speak transactional right? It's not going to change the soil in which we are going to soil the seed. If coaching is like a seed, right? So we need to work on the soil as Well as much as it's dependent on the quality of the seat that we have, so, in order to work on the soil and what will what we are saying that is in order to ensure that the environment in which we are going to imbibe coaching, that is ready What do you think what is the basic homework and organization needs to do before they invite this appreciate him in the autumn? 40:24 Well, first of all, I think you need to be very wary about this idea. If you as the, you know, the consultant, internal or external, you need to be you need to just watch yourself if you've already decided what this coaching culture needs to look like. It comes back to what I said before the planting the seed piece is about is about getting the organization itself to have a conversation about what do we mean by coaching, let alone coaching culture. Many organizations when you start coaching culture, what we do is we go and talk to the organization first and say what's coaching and it often comes out coaching is teaching Coaching is training. So what is coaching? Let's define that before we go any further. What do you mean by a coaching culture? 41:06 What is it? You mean not? Why 41:08 do you what do you mean? And why are you doing this? How does Why is this important? Because if this isn't intrinsically important in helping you, as an organization, do, what is you're trying to achieve? 41:19 It'll just end up on the list of 100 other projects and another project a tick in the box. 41:26 Exactly. So what I'm listening right now is Paul, two things. What do you mean by coaching culture? And why is it important to you what is the intrinsic driver that organization has, and in this case, as we are talking about that organization is just a, it's just a concept. So that means the people who are driving that initiative, while even driving this initiative, so that the first step right is my understanding, right? 41:51 Yeah, what else? 41:55 That's where you start, you 41:56 know, it's not a linear process. It's about you, you Getting, you're having conversations all over the room to say, What is it, by the way that that phrase coaching culture can just get in the way? Because what are we actually trying to do hit, we're basically what you tend to be doing is you're trying to change the way people relate to each other. 42:14 That's what you're trying to do. Yeah, he's trying to get 42:16 to listen more depending on a defined coaching, but to listen more and to voice with courage to be more self aware to think a bit more, since that's what you're trying to do. Probably, you might define patient a bit differently. So what is it we're trying to do? And then yes, you can do some skills introduction. 42:32 And then what we do is we go along with constantly 42:36 talking to the organization and getting the organization to talk to each other about what's changing here, what's changing, what, what's working, what's not working. Alright, let's let's identify what's not working. Let's have some more conversations around it. You're basically framing an organization's conversation for about 10 months and then you get to a different place. 42:55 But just recognize that where you've got to 42:58 is not the end of a Journey is just where we are today. And where you're going to be in a month's time will be dependent on all the conversations you've had in that month. It's, you know, you can change your CEO and the executive team and overnight your culture changes. Of course it does. You can spend five years and get to this thing called a coaching culture. And it changes overnight, because you've just gone into a merger or got a new leadership team. There is no end point. 43:23 Yes, a dialogue 43:24 is an ongoing dialogue. And I say, just as if that's easy, but that's what you're trying to do. You're just trying to help the organization engaged in that ongoing dialogue and recognize that it's the nature of the dialogue moving forward, that will that will determine where you go, which is lovely when organizations say, Yeah, that's true. So we need to actually be thinking about who's engaged in the dialogue. So let's change our recruitment processes and actually be a little bit more discerning about who we bring in. 43:51 Yeah, and so on and so forth. 43:53 Yeah. So, you know, while I'm listening to you, Paul, a very practical question which is coming to me and you At least I have experienced that while I'm working with several organization today in the country to build a coaching culture, one of the biggest challenge that I face is getting a lot of resistance from different levels in the organization. So, you know, the top management team, they have their own ways of looking at business. So there is a there's a deeper need to control things at the middle level. People have their own resistance of the way they deal with their downline at the same time, they the way they deal with their upline and people at the bottom of the pyramid, they have a deeper need, or they would prefer to get answers from the top bosses. Yes, absolutely. There are different resistances that I personally come across on day to day basis. So how do you deal with that resistance? And that's a lot that's a second last question after that. I've got only one question from you. So 44:49 what is resistance to change? resistance to change is unanswered questions. 44:53 That's what resistance changes. 44:55 When when the leader says we shall be you know, we're our brand is now going to be Green instead of blue. 45:01 And everybody goes, Well, we like blue. 45:04 And we go, well, it's gonna be green, but we like blue, it's gonna be green. And if anyone anyone continues going on, you're gonna lose your job. They think that we want blue is a question. It's a question. And the question is, we don't understand why it's why it's so important to move to green. I mean, why can the contact center and everybody loves blue? I don't understand, help me understand. It's a question. Now, similarly, as you you talk about resistance at different levels of, you know, I love what you just said, Because coaching, it doesn't necessarily mean the same thing at different levels of an organization. 45:40 What you said is, absolutely resonates in my experience, if at the sort of the sort of supervisor level, what I want when I say I want to be coached, if I'm on the shop floor, it often means I want to, I want you to share with me your wisdom and tell me what I should do. 45:55 Yeah. Now are you okay with that? 46:00 Are you okay? Don't have that level of the organization. That's what coaching means. And it's going to mean something slightly different and middle management, middle management, coaching tends to mean, I need to help people who already lead people become better leaders than their people. How do I do that? And do I need to coach upwards? Because my leaders just, you know, they don't share with me what's going on here? So coaching can mean different things for different levels of the organization. 46:24 Yeah, yeah. But 46:26 we call that resistance. Or no, to me, it's just an unresolved conversation. 46:31 Hmm. 46:33 Resistance is to go to the person who's resistant and say, what's the question here? What's the unresolved question? 46:39 Yeah. Hey, that's a that's a great takeaway for me. What is the unresolved question here? 46:44 And am I gay? Am I open to the question? This is what I mean by listening. is if I'm listening to that question, guy, yeah, same old, same old, same old, same old, can you shut up and I'll tell you what the answer is again, then I'm not listening. I'm not listening. For what not really say, I'm just listening to the words so that I can repeat myself for the 50th time. And by the way, there are textbooks out there and articles that say, if you want to change, just you don't be worried about repeating the same message. Because if you've done it 52 times you're on the right track. That's often how long it takes bullshit. That's how often it takes two people to 47:20 go. I'm just fed up with us. 47:21 Yeah, yeah. Thank you so much, Paul. I think that's a great conversation I had with you. So we spoke about what is called an your introduction to coaching. Then we spoke about the dialogue. Then we spoke about systemic coaching. I think that was a great piece. And of course, great. I mean, the kind of wisdom that you shared in terms of building the coaching culture in an organization, and the person might key takeaways, what is the unresolved question that I'm not getting onto? So Paul, if you were to give a piece of advice to people who are just getting introduced, or they would want to get introduced to systemic coaching, what would that be? 48:00 And my advice would be actually invest some time in finding out what system it is I said before, my advice would be say would be to say, and I don't give advice, really. But my suggestion would be find out for yourself. You call yourself a system in case your system it systemics is about taking a balcony view, what kind of systemically you work, go work that out for yourself. And the only way you're going to work that out is by reading some stuff, talking to some people being curious and and reflecting on that maybe the supervisor to come up with your own version. 48:40 So work it out for yourself would be my my advice. 48:43 Yeah. And also, you know, not to forget what you just mentioned, what the systemic coaching to you, and why would you want to get into that as the these are the two questions that you offered to any organization or the set of people who are driving this organization to get into to to build a coaching culture, why would you want To get into, I mean, why would you want to build a coaching culture? And why is it important to similarly? Why would you want to get into systemic coaching and why is that important to you, Paul, thank you so much. I think it was absolutely a pleasure to interact with you. Great conversation, great insights. And as I mentioned, I'm leaving this conversation with this one question. What is the unresolved question that I'm yet to get onto? 49:25 So thank you. So beautiful. Thanks for Thank you for having me. Thank you so much. Thank you

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