☕ CoffeeChat Weekly
Opportunities & Insights from Across Our Community
Hi everyone, here’s what we have for you this week:
What is the “why” behind what your company does? In this week’s episode of The Everyday Leader, Wairimu Njoki shares her experience about creating alignment across teams at the Micro Insurance Company.
What is the difference between peer coaching and professional coaching? Both play different but important roles in leadership development. We identify 5 key differences to keep in mind.
Why is it that experienced experts sometimes hold themselves back? Coach Anne reflects in her article about unpacking authenticity.
Read on for more details…
Discovering your favorite type of work, understanding the why of your company, and adjusting your 1:1 check-in rhythm over time
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Wairimu:
Startups provide an opportunity to discover what types of work you’ll like: In her first role, she was originally hired as a Credit Analyst but naturally shifted over to a newly-created Operations Lead as the company grew. Working at a startup where organizational structures were still being built gave her the opportunity to see that she liked building things. She was proactive about taking on new responsibilities, so the managing director realized she could add value being in operations full time.
Understand the “why” of the company to help guide operational decisions: To balance competing interests and priorities across teams, make sure everyone is aligned around the “why” of the company. When needed, you can refer back to this shared understanding to make adjustments to operations and structures only when it is clear why and how the change was linked to better pursuing the mission of the company.
Adjust your 1:1 check-in rhythm based on your team size and role: Wairimu’s approach to check-ins with her team has evolved over time as she moved from a Country Manager to VP of Operations role. She used to be more structured and regularly scheduled, but has now shifted to more infrequently scheduled, approximately once per month. To make sure she stays in the loop, she finds herself more effectively using weekly full team calls to get updates from across the team and assess challenges that may be arising.
At its core, all coaching focuses on the use of targeted conversations to produce action-oriented ways forward for addressing key challenges that participants are facing in their personal or professional situations. During a coaching session, a coach will work with a participant to identify key challenges and potential new strategies or behaviors. As CoffeeChat offers options with both professional coaching and peer coaching, it’s important to note some key differences:
Professional coaches are often experienced managers themselves, and go through hundreds of hours of training and practice to develop and refine their coaching methodology, typically earning a coaching credential through an organization such as the International Coaching Federation.
Peer coaches are often emerging leaders who are eager to further develop coaching skills as part of their management style. They go through an introductory online course provided by CoffeeChat that reviews a shared set of principles of peer coaching, but are not certified coaches unless they have otherwise already pursued a coach credential separately.
Frequency & Duration
Professional coaching engagements through CoffeeChat often involve meeting with the same coach over at least 6-12 sessions during a year-long period. Often this will include several sessions closer in frequency as the participant aligns with their coach and identifies goals for coaching, then spaces sessions out further apart later on as the participant spends more time applying new strategies. Between sessions, they'll practice these and often document their progress in a journal to help reflect during subsequent sessions on how to further iterate their approach.
Peer coaching through the CoffeeChat peer coaching network is structured in a way that the participant will be paired with a different peer coach each session on a monthly basis. The peer coach can also practice the skill of coaching as a managerial style with their own team members as needed.
Depth of Discussion
Professional coaching engagements can include a 360 feedback collection where the coach will interview or survey several of their team members to dig deeper into areas where the participant themselves have identified as looking to grow further. A professional coach is also able to understand the context and use the coaching methodology to make meaningful progress in 2-3 key areas over this period of time.
Peer coaching engagements often require quick, once-off context sharing followed by a focused brainstorming session to identify and commit to a pursuing realistic options for a very specific issue with a limited scope.
Professional coaching often takes place with a more experienced professional coach or manager.
Peer coaching removes the element of seniority in that both participants are intended to be more-or-less on even ground, each providing each other with questions about challenges they are facing, and serving as a source of encouragement.
Professional coaching through CoffeeChat involves a coach discovery process in which a participant can schedule between 2-3 introductory sessions with recommended coaches from our pre-screened network to ensure that there is good chemistry. A good fit is crucial given that the participant will work with the same coach throughout the full process.
Peer coaching with CoffeeChat automatically matches a participant with a different peer coach each month. This rotational model gives a peer coach the opportunity to speak to a variety of individuals working across many different teams and thus regular exposure to a range of different perspectives. Further, by practicing peer coaching with new individuals on a regular basis, they will stress-test their ability to adapt their coaching style to new environments and personalities.
Impact and Influence through Authenticity
Coach Anne shares her reflections about authenticity:
I was watching this TED video about how we perceive our competence (or lack thereof). I was intrigued by a discussion about how experienced people or experts hold themselves back because they understand that there is a lot they do not know, or assume that everyone else knows what they know. They don’t see that they are actually good at what they do, and in some cases, exceptional.
Sometimes, in organizations, such individuals get noticed and promoted to a position that requires more impact and influence. Or maybe they just reach a point in their lives where they yearn to have that. How can one attain impact and influence? How can one take up space? The answer may be by embarking on a journey towards living authentically, a concept that has recently gained more attention.
Understanding authentic living
At face value, it sounds easy, (just be yourself … right)? Yet, in my opinion, it is one of the most layered concepts I have come across. The journey through these layers involves becoming aware of your story – what has made you who you are at present? For example, your upbringing, societal ideologies and norms, culture, your personality, personal crises, wins, etc. It involves unfolding, untangling and understanding how these layers interact, for example, what works to your benefit and what is holding you back?
Once you have journeyed through the unfolding, you start to tap into your core self (your authentic self). Therein, within your core self, lies your gift. Brian Bogert, a Forbes Councils member, describes this gift as ‘the unique value you have to bring into the world … a value only you can bring’’. It unravels as the journey unfolds.
Sarita Chawla, a senior faculty member at New Ventures West, offers a program on authentic living. She emphasizes that ‘embodying your truth requires deep immersion, practice and support’.
Firstly, there is the need to find out who you are, truly. The answer to this usually lies in your core values, which act as a compass. Core values are usually shaped by our own preferences and our environment. Finding out who you truly are also involves understanding your natural demeanor, your own way of being. For example, are you naturally outgoing? Or are you naturally reserved? (Both are perfectly fine, by the way).
Then comes the tricky part of the journey. Learning how to live as who you are by expressing your core values and embodying your demeanor in the different settings that you find yourself. As you express your true self, it is also important to take into consideration your context. We live in a community, with family members, colleagues, neighbors, and society in general. We also live in a context that operates with policies and procedures, rules and regulations, systems, etc. The way that you express your true self should be flexible enough to accommodate your context. Understanding and learning how to do this is a continuous process that will require the ‘deep immersion and practice’ that Sarita Chawla describes. The goal is to sort of be like moving water. It finds its way through different landscapes, but it still remains H2O, its core substance is unchanged.
Then comes the trickiest part of the journey. According to Brian Bogert, embracing the authentic way of being requires a ‘full acceptance of reality’ and an ‘intentionality and conviction that transcends self-limiting beliefs’. As you start living according to your true self, the reception will vary. There are instances when you will be appreciated (for who you truly are), and that is a wonderful feeling! And then there are instances when you will be criticized or rejected (for who you truly are). At first, this may hurt, it stings. As you learn how to live with being criticized or rejected for who you are, your support structure is crucial to carry you through this experience. Chances are high that you may find every excuse (self-limiting beliefs) in the book to regress. A strong support structure will see you past this, so that you can keep pushing through and staying on the journey.
Further down the road, as you learn how to express your true self in different situations, as you learn how to live with the reality of it, it gets easier. You start to feel present in the world, like you are taking up your rightful space. You start to access your gift.
To understand the concept of ‘gift’, think of Rosa Parks (In 1955, in the USA, she refused to give up her bus seat for White passengers. She was arrested, went through the court processes, and eventually the courts decided that the bus segregation system in the USA was unconstitutional). In my imagination, at the time when she refused to give up her seat, she was just sticking to her core values. Yet, through this simple but brave act, the subsequent impact, influence, and gift, unfolded with time.