Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Application of Time to Think book by author Nancy Kline with ICF Core Competency of Coaching Presence:

This applies the ICF (International Coach Federation) core competency, Coaching Presence, to the premises of the Time to Think book.

First, the definition of Coaching Presence: According to ICF, after a Coach ‘Sets the relationship with a client’, the next core competency step is Co-Creating the Relationship. Co-creating involves Coaching Presence or theAbility to be fully conscious and create a spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.  ICF is explicit in explaining how a coach co-creates:

1      Is present and flexible, dancing in the moment
2      Accesses own intuition and trusts one's inner knowing, "goes with the gut."
3      Is open to not knowing and takes risks. 
4      Sees many ways to work with the client and chooses in the moment what is most effective. 
5      Uses humor effectively to create lightness and energy. 
6      Confidently shifts perspectives and experiments with new possibilities for own action. 
7      Demonstrates confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client's emotions.

Second, the premise for the Time to Think book: 
Everything we do depends, for its quality, on the thinking we do first.
Every action we take is only as good as the idea behind it.
Thinking comes first.
To improve action, we have to first improve our thinking.
IQ, age, background, gender experience – have little to do with how we think
Most important factor in whether people can think for themselves is ‘how they are being treated by the people with them’.
When someone in your presence is trying to think, much of what you are hearing and seeing is your effect on them.

The way you give attention to people helps them think better, to think for themselves.
In sum, the quality of a person’s attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.   Thus, everything we do depends on the thinking we do first.  When we are free to think for ourselves, our dreams are free to unfold.

How can we create a thinking environment for others, namely, our coaching clients? 

1.     Attention – listening with respect, interest and fascination – not multi-tasking, not daydreaming; not interrupting. 
2.     Incisive questions – removing assumptions that limit ideas; frees the mind to think afresh.
3.     Equality – treating each other as thinking peers
4.     Appreciation – everyone has a turn; 5 to 1 ratio of appreciation to criticism
5.     Ease – offering freedom from rush or urgency.  Ease creates, urgency destroys.  Balance agenda with thinking time.  Thinking time – everything else depends on.
6.     Encouragement – Moving beyond competition with each other.
7.     Feelings – Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking.  We all avoid conflict and anger is especially tough for us to deal with….avoid other’s anger making you angry.
8.     Information – providing a full and accurate picture of reality.  After listening, full honesty, especially when requested.  Information should help us think for ourselves.
9.     Place – Creating a physical environment that says back to people, “you matter.”
10.  Diversity – Adding quality because of the differences between us.  Diversity raises the intelligence of groups and enhances thinking.  No group is dominant nor should it hold power over the others, assumptions that could be limiting.

I believe the ICF definition of coaching presence reflects all of the 10 Time to Think components of a thinking environment.  For example, Incisive Questions, according to the author,  (a) Helps create a thinking environment for others  (b) Helps individuals and teams be thinking partners for each other (c) Sets up the right conditions for others to think for themselves and think well together (d) Focuses on What does the client really think? (Versus learning how to fit in).  The ICF definition captures Incisive Questioning, i.e., being present, flexible, using intuition, being open to not knowing and confidently shifting perspectives in the moment to what works best for the client spontaneously.

The author further dissects each of the ICF coaching presence elements in more detail.  For example, a thinking team.  “Organizations can be taught to master all 10 components of a Thinking Environment and to use them together.  Teams are the primary force of organizations and their core is the mind of each team member.  The most powerful vehicle for team thinking is the team meeting and the manager’s ability to turn meetings into Thinking Environments is probably the Organization’s greatest asset.”  Among the nine meeting guidelines the author suggests is:  At the beginning of a meeting, ask everyone to say what is going well in their work or in the group’s work.  Throughout the meeting, besides following the 10 components, divide into Thinking Partnerships when thinking stalls and give each person 5 minutes to think out loud without interruption, as well as other suggestions.  At the end of the meeting, ask everyone what they thought went well in the meeting and what they respect in each other.  This coaching of teams requires confidence and risk in asking these incisive questions but the quality of thinking rises the more you do.

The author proceeds to explain the structure of how a typical meeting would follow above the guidelines.  After time and practice, everyone understands that they will have a turn to speak, that they will be expected to say what is going well in their work and the group’s work, they will be expected to have input into agenda items, they will be able to speak without interruption even during fiery discussions, they will be expected to be truthful and share information and to express feelings, and they will be expected to reflect positively on the meeting and appreciate each other.

In sum, the author makes room for both the extroverts and the introverts in a work environment and tackles such things as change, peer mentoring, prizing the minds of everyone and a special relation to health.  Thinking that you are healthy and believing it deep down, talking about it, being positive about it, imagining it so.  The author shared a very moving story of her own experience with overcoming all odds against ovarian cancer. She is 27 years beyond what doctors predicted what she would live.   In other words, having a Thinking Partnership with ourselves, of creating a Thinking Partnership between mind and body.  Asking ourselves questions such as, What am I assuming that may be hurting my body?  Are you assuming that you are not worth the trouble of taking care of it?   If you knew that you are worth the trouble to care for your body, what would you change about your life right now?  After thinking about this, I decided to enjoy this beautiful day at the beach and with my supportive husband.  A good time to think about my new year’s resolutions and act upon them.  Coaching presence begins with the coach.

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