Continuing my debrief from attending the 2020 gathering of the coaching community at the Welsh Coaching Conference.

Building on the themes I shared in part one of my debrief from #WCC2020, in this blog I’ll share another great keynote & workshop.

As a reminder, some of the key lessons I learnt in part 1 were:

  • The power of using metaphors with clients;
  • Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of coaching;
  • Different approaches are equally effective, choose a coaching approach that suits who you are as a coach;
  • Gestalt coaching can improve my awareness of contact, context & the power of creative experiments with clients.

Building on that understanding, our chair Dave Tee introduced out second keynote speaker. Another well respected academic in the field of leadership coaching, and like Erik de Haan, really good company too. Time to learn from Christian

Coaching Psychology & Positive Psychology walked into a bar…

OK, that wasn’t the title of Christian van Nieuwerburgh talk. But, given he was one of the most entertaining speakers I’ve heard in a long time & brilliant at engaging the whole room, it seemed fitting.

Christian shared with us his case for integrating the best of these two fields. Through really accessible explanations he defined & explore the goals of both fields:

Through exercises with others at our tables & the ever-useful Venn Diagram, Christian led us to consider the overlap between these two fields. How important it was for clients to not only achieve their goals but sustain wellbeing too.

What would it look like to help clients focus on a more holistic future hope? To engage with their flourishing, the meaning they can find in their work. He posed the beautiful question: “What is it about your professional role that makes your heart sing?”

Part of this is countering potential client negativity with positive psychology. To help clients develop into their own ‘Strengths Finder‘. To notice & appreciate (verbally) their strengths when we talk to them.

In line with this more holistic consideration of what is in the best interests of the client, Christian also challenged us to challenge goals. Lately, it feels like I have heard evidence against the use of goals from Gestalt & Narrative Coaching as well as reading “Atomic Habits”. So this struck home with a growing conviction for me.

Two questions he offered to help with critiquing your goal focus:

  1. For the client: What impact will pursuing this goal have on your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others?
  2. For the coach: Do we evaluate our success on whether or not the client achieves their goal? Is this toward their wellbeing?

A timely & useful challenge from Christian. Plus a reminder to me of all the ways I wish to embed Positive Psychology more into my coaching practice. I encourage any coaches who have the opportunity to hear Christian live to do so, he will put a smile on your face & raise your motivation to be an even better coach.

To learn more about Christian and his work, here is his blog:

Posts by Dr Christian van Nieuwerburgh

Coaching can have such a positive impact in schools. Many people can remember an educator who has had a lasting, positive impact on them. Usually, it is a favourite teacher, a supportive teaching assistant or the encouraging sports coach.

Global launch of a new framework for the coaching community

Next, we were treated to the global launch of a new coaching framework. In partnership with a leading female academic (Dr Allaho), they have developed a model that recognises the importance of working with values.

Interestingly this model was born out of work on coaching in an Islamic culture. That provided the challenge to enable a less individualistic approach to coaching. One that engaged with values & community, not just individual aspirations.

I see this having a strong read across to Christian ethics in coaching & a growing concern to build communities. So, whether your motivation is a more sustainable future together, a faith community or just collective well being (e.g. in organisations) – I can absolutely see the need for this.

I need to read more to fully understand this approach (a PDF is coming so I will add that for download once available). But, at a high-level here are the stages:

  • Discovery: exploring with the client, including disclosing about yourself & ‘appreciative enquiry’ approach.
  • Intention: which positive intention would best serve you here?
  • Pathways: exploring options & choices.
  • Alignment Wheel: For each option considering it in the light of its impact on Self, the Environment & your Relationships.
  • Effort: if it’s hard work, are you being authentic?

The goal of this approach (no pun intended), is” “Coaching to help people live their Values“. I really welcome that & will explore this further for my own practice. Here is a verbal summary to help you consider it:

Coaching in the limelight – inspiration from the theatre

Last but not least was another great interactive workshop. Taking a leaf out of Ty’s call for creative experimentation & Kevin’s encouragement of metaphors. Mary Hughes (who is always encouraging fellow coaches) was joined by a colleague with an acting background.

Together they ably helped us consider how many terms from acting we use in everyday language. Consider phrases like:

  • I feel upstaged!
  • He’s waiting in the wings.
  • She’s hogging the limelight.
  • They only gave me a bit-part.
  • She’s a bit of diva.
  • He’s an unsung hero.
  • etc etc etc

Through interactive exercises, we engaged with the terms for different parts of a stage. “The Apron” was a new one on me. Mary also treated us to all the historical & theoretical background behind why acting is a natural bedfellow of coaching. Another medium to explore our goals & well being.

What became apparent through the exercises is that this experiment worked. Using metaphors from acting & the opportunity to play roles during a coaching session can be very effective. In many ways, it felt like a natural pairing of Narrative Coaching with the more active approaches used in creative Gestalt sessions or even coaching by walking.

Everyone who attended confirmed that our hosts were “onto something“. Further research and experimentation is worthwhile. Perhaps you could consider using the metaphor of a play or acting in future coaching sessions. Would it help your client to reflect on the parts they are playing already & the stories within themselves?

Here’s just one of the useful resources shared:

Art in Coaching | Coaching beyond words, using art for life and business

Join me on a workshop to discover for yourself this powerful way of working with your clients. Read the blog to explore where I share knowledge, latest research and learning. Follow me on twitter for bite sized updates, links and some fun.

After the final curtain, what next?

I hope this series of two blog posts have helped you to experience how much there is to gain by attending the Welsh Coaching Conference. It is always bitter sweet at the end of these days.

But, let’s not get nostalgic so soon. Let’s take a leaf out of Christian’s book & focus on the positive. How could you act on what I’ve shared?

For one thing, I’d encourage any coaches who are practising in isolation to find a way to engage with their local coaching community. Supervision is, in my view, essential for effective coaching practice. But there is also a role for co-coaching groups and just meeting up with fellow coaches.

Thanks again to the team from USW Commercial who put on the WCC event each year and thanks to the Wales coaching community. I have learned so much from you & always experienced a generous welcome.