Archives for category: Coaching

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This week we’d like to share a piece by one of our associate coaches – Hannah Massarella CPCC.

‘I’ve been talking to clients and partner organisations a lot lately about resilience. Resilience is about being able to ‘weather the storm’ in difficult times, resilience is about being able to continue with something that is highly challenging, without it impacting your wellbeing.

Resilience is also about walking away from something that doesn’t serve you, and dealing with the fall out from making that choice.

Life throws up a million different situations that require resilience. And sometimes as a response it seems easier to put on some metaphorical armour, to close up, shut down and power through. But in the long run this ‘battle’ perspective shuts you off from life. By armouring up to deal with the challenges you also become cut off from new connections, it becomes more difficult to feel peaceful and compassionate. Judgement and rejection end up ruling.

I advocate an alternative approach to resilience. The work I do with clients and organisations uses self-care as a route to resilience. Self-care to me, is about paying attention to how we feel and the kinds of conversations we have with ourselves. Self-care is about identifying gremlin thoughts, learning how to ‘be with’ every emotion, getting clear on personal purpose and values and acknowledging and owning all of our skills and attributes.

I used to work with a particularly challenging colleague, she brought up a number of emotions in me and my response was to avoid her at all costs. That approach contributed to my burn out. If I’d have known and been practising what I now know, I might have been able to weather that particular storm from a stronger place of self-belief, I would have found it easier to ‘be with’ the difficult emotions that came up every time she spoke to me.

Challenging situations at work and in life, will always come up (unless we decide to live in a hole). Challenging situations come up with an enhanced level of stress when you are pushing boundaries and working against the odds. Armouring up leads to suppression of emotion, which leads to sickness and burn out, so in reality a self-caring approach to resilience is the only answer.

So how do you stay resilient to life’s struggles?’

*Image by Levi Morsy http://www.unsplash.com

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Do you sometimes doubt your abilities and worry that you are not good enough?  Do you feel inadequate even though what you have achieved suggests otherwise?

If so then you could well be suffering from Imposter Syndrome.  It’s something that has probably always been around but it was given a label in the 1970s to describe the phenomenon in which successful people cannot internalise, or ‘own’, their successes.  It is experienced as a sense of inadequacy and ‘not enough’, even when information suggests this not to be true.  And, interestingly, it is more likely to be experienced by women.

First the good news – if you feel this is something you recognise in yourself then you are not alone.  In fact over 70% of people studied report having experienced it at one time or another in their lives.

And a long list of high achievers have all talked about experiencing these feelings too.  It would seem fame, success and prestigious accolades do not make you immune.

Imposter Syndrome is more than just doubting yourself and we have to unpick it further to be able to tackle it.  I would argue that Imposter Syndrome is a function of perfectionism and shame with these being two sides of the same coin.

Putting a spotlight on perfectionism makes sense – it’s a self destructive belief system in which we think that if we just do everything perfectly we can minimise difficult feelings of unworthiness and shame.  The cycle is addictive as perfect is an impossible standard to strive for.  And, when we get things wrong, or when people judge or blame us, we decide to strive even harder rather than acknowledging the impossible standards that have been set.

But, why shame?  Brené Brown defines shame as the intensely painful feeling that we are flawed and are therefore not worthy of love and belonging.  Maybe you’re surprised to see shame being discussed here.  It isn’t something that is often discussed but it is the driving emotion behind so many of our destructive behaviours in the workplace and, so, can’t be ignored.

I believe Imposter Syndrome is rife in the workplace, particularly for women, due to the masculine workplace culture.  If the workplace rewards ‘masculine’ traits of dominance, control, linear thinking and reason over ‘feminine’ ones such as group decision making, empathy, lateral thinking and intuition, then it’s no wonder women doubt their worthiness.

The lack of senior female roles models who ‘show up’ as themselves does not help.  In the past, and still today perhaps to a lesser extent, women felt that they have to take on masculine workplace characteristics to get ahead and therein lies the issue.  If women continue to bend to that idea that they have to be more ‘male’ to get ahead then that just undermines the value that women can, and should be encouraged to, bring to the workplace.

It’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle – you don’t show up as yourself because what you bring isn’t valued, and because you’re not showing up as yourself you doubt yourself, and so it goes on.

Look out for our next newsletter in which we show you how to work through Imposter Syndrome.

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Our two day Daring Way™ workshop is now on the 16th and 17th March and is specifically for entrepreneurs. Through the course we will examine what gets in the way of us truly going for it as entrepreneurs, where we hold back and where we hide.  We will look at creativity, innovation, trust and empathy – and what might get in the way. Finally we will work through tools and techniques to support you in truly showing up as a business leader.  This setting also provides you with a support network for living brave in your whole lives beyond the two day workshop. Click here for more information.

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Thank you for taking an interest in our work this year.  It really has been a phenomenal year for us as a team and also myself on an individual level.

I always encourage people to reflect on the year past before looking forward to the year ahead.

Our 2015 highlights

  • Assisting on Brené Brown’s School of Life workshop this weekend just gone was super exciting (and super tiring).  This was a key highlight along with getting trained in her new Rising Strong curriculum.
  • The Emerging Women conference in 2015 really expanded what’s possible in my mind and has created the inkling of lots of ideas for 2016.  Plus I’m about to book my tickets for next year!
  • Getting published in The Guardian – yay!
  • I’ve also had a great trip to the US, settled my eldest son in school, expanded my professional network and have taken on a number of associates for my business.

What do you want to celebrate about 2015?  Take some time to think about your key achievements and learnings…

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And what do you want to make a commitment to doing in 2016?

We have a Daring Way™ workshop at the beginning of the year to support you in making this your most courageous year ever.  Plus Rising Strong dates bringing the new curriculum to life…
Here’s to being grateful for the year that’s past, and excited about what’s to come in 2016.

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With love, Rox

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How much do you organise your life so as to avoid failure?

What is your relationship with those face down moments?  Do you put your head in your hands thinking, “I’m obviously a failure, I’ll know not to do that again”? Or do you think “Oh that didn’t work out this time and I know better for next time”.

In truth, failure isn’t failure if you can learn from it.

Brené Brown’s new work, ‘Rising Strong’, is all about those face down moments that we all have.  Her premise is that if we have a process for picking ourselves back up again after a failure then we are able to be more brave, more often.  And if we are truly brave with our lives then we will fail.  (Note: She doesn’t mean you will risk failing more often.  She means you will actually fail more often.)

What is so striking for me about the process is that it starts with getting curious about our emotions.  And how opposed that is to how most of us live our lives.

I go into organisations where people are told they are ‘too emotional’ and that ‘emotion should be kept out of the workplace’.  I coach people who were told as children that they should ‘stop being upset about that as it won’t get you anywhere’ or ‘emotion is a sign of weakness’.

I was an emotional being in the workplace.  I definitely showed emotion in a way that other people weren’t entirely comfortable with. And usually this was the flip side of me really caring about the work that I did and therefore getting frustrated by lengthy processes or people not sharing my vision.   More recently someone observed that I seemed angry* about the way a project was going in a big organisation.  It was taken by me, and I assume it was meant by them, as the opposite of a compliment.  The implication was ‘there is no room for anger in this organisation’.

But what if we could get curious about these emotions?  Instead of feeling them and immediately pushing them away, what if we could hold the space for them, reflect on what is behind the emotions and move through them mindfully? When I was told I seemed angry, I mainly felt incapable and embarrassed.  I subsequently tried to shut the anger away and show up as lovely, kind, jolly Rox to move the project forwards (because nice girls don’t get angry, right? And, more to the point, you “should never show emotion” in the workplace). Reflecting on this now, I was angry because I saw something that really contravened my values being played out.  Too right I was angry – the behaviour I was seeing needed calling out, not passively accepting with a smile on my face.

Let’s be clear, holding the space for our anger does not mean shouting or acting aggressively.  I mean giving ourselves permission for the feeling and getting curious about the cause of it, rather than pushing it away immediately.

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I see the alternative being played out in workplaces and families across the country.  Unexpressed emotion has a habit of building up and either affecting you physically (insomnia, anxiety, stress) or of finding an outlet at an equally unsuitable time (road rage, shouting at your children). I wonder if the passive aggressiveness I see in offices is a symptom of this too.  As I tried to shut my anger away, I found myself on a constant loop in my head having circular conversations with the people involved in this scenario.

It is only through knowing how to rise strong, trusting that we will be able to pick ourselves back up again enhanced rather than diminished by a failure, that we are going to be able to take risks in our careers and in our lives that will move us forwards.  The very first step in this process involves getting curious about our emotions and acknowledging when we are emotionally hooked.

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Today I want to introduce you to another new associate coach here at The Hobbs Consultancy, Sonia Calvo:-

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Sonia is a challenging, curious, intuitive and versatile coach.  She works with executives in global corporations to develop potential, increase performance, enhance leadership skills and create sustainable change. 

Sonia is fascinated in exploring what makes people tick, bringing out the best in them and discovering what they have to offer. She is passionate about working with people who want to have a bigger impact in their lives and supporting them in finding ways to have that impact.

It is my pleasure to hand over to Sonia to share her wisdom…

We are all leaders in our lives and we all lead in different ways. How we lead at work may be different from how we lead at home. The one true factor, is that in the middle of it all, is US.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” – Brené Brown

A powerful quote from Brené Brown and so true. And how are we supposed to embrace who we are? Some of us don’t really know who that person is or allow that person to come alive.

A challenge I often see in the corporate world is when we compare ourselves to others, to our bosses, to our peers and we sometimes forget just because we are different, handle situations differently, think differently, does not mean we do it wrong or are not good enough.

Unfortunately when we compare ourselves, it’s an uphill battle. When we try to be like someone else, we are not being authentic and hide our abilities and ourselves.

I had a client recently who was given the responsibility of leading their quarterly shareholder meetings, a role which their boss had been doing for a long time and did incredibly well. (The ‘incredibly well’ bit, was my clients perspective…)

The internal voices my client was getting were… ‘how can I do as good a job, I am not as experienced, the shareholders wont listen to me, I will freeze, I might not have all the answers, I will look unprofessional’.  And so on.

From this perspective, my client was setting herself up for failure.

What’s the impact you could have if you dropped comparison and quieted the voices? If instead you focused on:

What do I bring which is different?

What are my strengths?

What do I know to be true right now which will serve me?

How do I want to show up at the meeting?

How do I want to be when I don’t have the answer?

By focusing my client’s attention to these questions, she was able to explore and be curious about what she had to offer, what she brought to the table and allow herself to step into this new opportunity.

By exploring who we are and how we want to show up, we make it possible to find our authentic selves and lead from this place.

3 x authentic leadership coaching sessions (2)

 

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Diversity seems to be a bit of a buzzword in the industry at the moment. There is a general sense that we must be able to do better and that diversity and inclusion are organisational imperatives that we should embrace.  We look around us and see that the current make up of our agencies and our boards are not reflective of the make up of the London population around us.  Recent panel debates at Adweek, Bloom and WACL have highlighted the need to change, along with some tactical successes of a few forward thinking individuals.

Yet what do we need to do to embrace long term, systematic change in this area? How do we move from talking to doing? Sometimes when I attend these excellent panel debates, I wonder if we are preaching to the choir – as to attend such an event implies that you have some understanding of why this change is so important to our industry.  It’s the people that don’t attend that we need to convince.  Organisational change cannot be effected by a few enlightened individuals at each agency. It requires the majority of the agency population to lean in, to be convinced of the benefits of that change and to seize their responsibility in making that change happen.

My perspective is that the conversation needs to shift.  We currently believe that diversity is a ‘nice to have’ and will probably have a net cost.  We think we are going to have to invest in expensive training, policies and compliance programmes.  In short, we think we should get involved, but there are always more pressing concerns on the ‘to do’ list and for the budget.

And then, at other times, the debate becomes centred on the group that stands to directly benefit.  The business case might be articulated through the advantages that group might bring to the table – especially true in the case for women.  ‘Women seem to be better at dealing with people and are more empathic’, we muse and that becomes the business case for having more female, senior leaders.  Unfortunately this approach is the very antithesis of inclusivity.  It creates a further stereotype for which women need to conform so as to be successful (excluding those that aren’t naturally like this), it focuses on one angle of the diversity debate (excluding ethnicity, geographic and educational background, LGBTQ etc) and, frankly, is only ever going to get the empathic females aligned behind it.

My call is that we change the conversation and put diversity and inclusivity at the heart of business strategy.  We need to focus on creating the holistic business case and aligning whole organisations behind that, not just a D&I consultant.  All employees, believing in the business case, could take a role in championing inclusivity.

So what might be the true business case for Diversity and Inclusivity in today’s advertising industry?  I personally believe this is a conversation every agency in town needs to be having in its boardrooms.  To use a coaching analogy, teams will have more of a stake in its progress if they design its benefits themselves and together.   But here are a few starters for ten.

 1. We will understand our client’s audiences better.

Probably the most obvious and yet also the most powerful.  Consumer insight is critical to our industry’s success and whilst we can use tools, surveys and research there is a nuance of consumer insight that can be best gained through multiple experiences in the room.

 2. We will attract and retain the best talent

Our employees are also our customers.  To attract and retain the best possible talent, we need to ensure that we are perceived as a diverse and inclusive company.  I’m reminded about how Antonio Simoes of HSBC talks regularly about gay issues in public and at in house events and says, ‘It’s amazing the number of people who email me from HSBC around the world to say, “I thought your speech was really motivational and I feel really excited about working for a bank that truly values diversity and meritocracy”’ (as told in The Glass Closet, by John Browne).

 3. To increase productivity

Unconscious bias, implicit associations and homophobic / sexist attitudes are all deeply inefficient. Quite simply, we will increase our productivity if we seek to reduce our own (natural) bias.

 4. For attracting new clients

I’ve seen a number of RFP’s in recent times asking what an agency is doing in the area of Diversity and Inclusivity.  Having a clear point of view and strategy will increasingly be a part of pitch submissions and will help you to win business, much like the sustainability case has done in recent years.

There are many more.  Believing in the business case perhaps requires a shift from short to medium term thinking.  It requires our agencies to reflect the society we are serving.  Inertia is not enough – we need our leaders to clearly articulate the business case and align everyone in their agencies behind this change.

Roxanne Hobbs is the founder of The Hobbs Consultancy – which is on a mission to transform business via inclusivity.  They offer Inclusion 3.0 workshops which seek to build the business case and raise awareness of our own unconscious bias.   Prices from £1000 + VAT for a half day workshop in your organisation for 10 people.  Email me for more information… www.thehobbsconsultancy.comroxanne@thehobbsconsultancy.com