Q&A with John Raymond PCC | The Intersection of Coaching and Potential

IECL’s Head of Coaching, John Raymond attended this year’s ICF Converge Conference in Washington D.C.  John was joined by an amazing crowd – 1,600 people from 64 countries from across the globe! With the theme ‘The Intersection of Coaching + Potential’ we sat down with John to hear the insights he gained on bursting the CEO bubble, attachment theory and motivational interviewing in coaching.

Q: John, MIT Leadership Centre Executive Director Hal B. Gregersen’s was this year’s Keynote. What did you learn about bursting the CEO bubble?

John: Hal’s key points were quite simple. As leaders, all leaders to an extent operate within a bubble that prevents them from seeing critical information, Hal Gregersen challenges us to ask questions that burst the bubble. As coaches, we also operate in our own bubble, and so I too would challenge coaches to ask leaders the right questions that burst the bubble. This brings to mind our own mental models and biases and how to move beyond the “what we don’t know we don’t know”? One thing that really resonated for me was being unexpectedly wrong. My takeaway was around the benefit in embracing and working with these moments, rather than being embarrassed and trying to fix them too quickly. He also taught a simple process that he called a questionburst, which is a very simple and short six minutes process, that we could be applying to our own problem solving as well as with our clients. The HBR article on ‘Bursting the CEO Bubble’ provides some great tools on this.

Keynote Speaker Hal Gregersen

Q: David Drake, who has done a lot of work in the narrative coaching space (which is the coaching technique IECL teaches in Level 3), was also a presenter on Attachment Theory in coaching. What did you learn? 

John: David had a lot of great information and tools in his 90 minutes presentation but what really stuck with me was a powerful reminder of the impact of presence – as coaches we are not just being present with our counterpart TO DO our coaching work, David’s premise was that being present with our counterpart IS our coaching work.

He also talked about four moments in coaching – that when we notice and act on them – add value to our coaching:

  1. Moving along – think of this like the general flow of the conversation, just moving or meandering along.
  2. Now moment – that moment in the coaching conversation where you realise that something significant has surfaced. This could be indicated by what has been said, a change in energy, some body language shift or some other indicator. As coaches we need to be ‘listening’ for these now moments to explore more deeply. When we hear a now moment, that gives us an opportunity to create a moment of meeting.
  3. Moment of meeting – comes from the coach picking up on the ‘now moment’ and connecting with their counterpart to delve into this more. 
  4. Moment of being met – is what transpires/emerges from the moment of meeting to create something new. It comes from the moment of meeting experience and transforms into the moment of being met.

Music to my “systems thinking” ears was the need to engage the social system of the counterpart in order to sustain any change. 

And finally, it is no surprise that many of our models of relationship (work, leadership, friendships and so forth) are sourced from our family experiences. As I understand it, this is one of the core principles of attachment theory. The patterns of behaviour leaders demonstrate are often well-worn paths that were learned in their childhood. This is one of the reasons why narrative coaching is a powerful way to work with our counterparts. Narrative coaching creates an opportunity for our counterparts to re-author these relationship stories and therefore update or upgrade their patterns of behaviour to become more relevant and functional leaders today.

Q: Wow. A compelling presentation indeed by David Drake. If there was one other take away you’d like to share from the gamut of presentations, what would that be?

John: I’d say using motivational interviewing in coaching. Although this approach is not at all new, it was great to see a fresh take on it and how it can be used in coaching. Here’s how it can work successfully in coaching:

  1. Discover and Decide – this is about asking questions to discover what they want to change, but more importantly discover how motivated they are to change this, so a decision to work on this change can be made. The presenter talked about the three dimensions of motivation which are well researched but a useful frame for all our coaching or change programs:
    A. Willing – how important is the change to them?
    B. Able – their confidence to be able to make the change?
    C. Ready – what is the current priority to make this change?

    Jacinta Jimenez spoke of the readiness ruler, which is a crude measurement of willing and able on a 0-10 scale. Again, very simple but I thought it would be a functional tool in some coaching sessions to get the counterpart to explore their readiness to change.
  2. Develop Discrepancy between the current status quo and the future state – this creates the cognitive dissonance which needs to be large enough. The presenter had a neat way of listening for the type of talk the counterpart is using. There is:
    A. change talk – talk that promotes the achievement of the vision – desire to change, ways and strategies to change, reasons and need to change.
    B. sustain talk – talk that support the maintaining for the status quo – obstacles, ‘yes buts’, challenges, reasons why they can’t, the interferences.
  3. Deepening the Drive to change – again nothing particularly new here but some neat ways of thinking about the ‘how to’, to add to your toolkit.
Further reading

Bursting the CEO Bubble, Hal Gregersen | HBR

John Raymond is IECL’s Head of Coaching. John has been involved in coaching since it began to take hold in Australasia in the mid-1990s. He brings a systems thinking filter to everything he does with a stand out concept from his Masters being “The quality of the System is determined by the quality of the Conversation”. As Head of Coaching, John leads the way in ensuring our coaching offerings are innovative and continue to lift the bar.