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Getting fitter going forward!

Posted by Jean-François Cousin, MCC | September 19, 2017 | Comments (14)

“Enough is enough,” I told myself as I stepped into my Bangkok home after consecutive trips to Europe, Latin America and Iran, where I had succumbed to the pleasures of the flesh—savoring local delicacies, as much as of the mind, meeting amazing people….My cruel mirror concurred as it reflected sharply, “You are overweight.”

Under such duress, I remembered a foresighted friend telling me, “I have a fantastic personal trainer, named Kevin,” in a way that prompted me to write down Kevin’s phone number.

I immediately called Kevin, who let me know how we’d go about planning, goal setting and managing progress and accountability, as if he were reciting our beloved ICF Core Competencies 10 and 11. I felt bad for not applying them in the most important “place,” despite Jim Rohn’s wisdom, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

And, I felt worse at the first training session. After endless push-ups and other sophisticated forms of physical torture, I was lying on the floor, drained. Kevin observed quasi-scientifically, “About 50 percent of your muscles are activated. You’ll progress fast at first because it’s easy to wake the other 50 percent up. Strengthening you beyond will be far more arduous. You’ll need to be disciplined and persistent.” As I was still lying down, Chaplin’s thought popped up in my mind, “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.” I exhaled a deep sigh, looked up and weakly stood up, probably like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit:

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible!
Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”

Lesson painfully relearned: reflect and act more about how I can apply my competencies and wisdom as a coach to my own life and effectively manage progress and accountability.

Full-disclosure: I had no excuse for having forgotten such lesson as I had just joined our ICF Global Board meeting in Buenos Aires, where my fellow directors and I had focused much of our strategic work on “planning and goal setting” and “managing progress and accountability.”

We had convened in an optimistic mood, especially so as everyone had visited one of the nearby ICF Chapters in Peru, Chile, Argentina or Uruguay. We were enthused by the infectious energy and go-getter attitude of our colleagues there and by the generative conversations we had enjoyed with them. We were also feeling great because the 2017 International Coaching Week had just reached new heights in visibility and impact.

Optimism helps us, as a board, sustain the high ambition level of the strategy, taking ICF and the coaching profession forward. It is fueled by the extraordinary work the ICF staff tirelessly delivers and by the many attractive opportunities we can discern. Yet, we also recognize a number of areas needing improvement and multiple sobering challenges, while our resources are limited, like any other organization.

To keep our optimism in check and the hard truths in the room, we tacitly take turns in playing the role of the “black hat” on the Board.

At the beginning of our latest meeting, we experienced a new discipline: sharing our potential “personal bias” about the agenda items, in all authenticity and vulnerability. We then committed to keep our bias at bay and asked our peers to keep us accountable.  I was amazed at how such simple practice enhanced the inclusiveness and quality level of our discussions.

“What gets measured gets done” is a credo for both the ICF staff and Board members, and it keeps us grounded in reality as we set goals and manage progress and accountability. We monitor a set of “Indicators of Performance Excellence” focused on the most critical organizational health factors, such as membership retention, global member satisfaction scores, credentialing process satisfaction and advocacy scores, credentialing and accreditation timelines, additional language opportunities for PCC applications, etc. We also follow closely other indicators about our strategic focus areas in 2017-2018, such as

  • “ICF will deliver and maintain presence at quality global events”
  • “ICF researches, develops, and implements robust standards, governance and operational procedures/structures, and applicant requirements for all aspects of the Credentialing Program”
  • “ICF develops and progresses plans to expand the scope and influence of the organization”

We believe as well that the transparency of the ICF strategic work and its continuity from board to board help steer greater progress and accountability in the service of members. Therefore, we share strategic plan updates and board meetings reports.

I now recognize more value in such disciplines for my life and business. May I invite you to share other good practices in managing progress and accountability?

I am looking forward to our October Board meeting, committed as my fellow directors to keep raising the bar and getting fitter going forward!

Warmly,

 Jean-François Cousin, MCC
2017 ICF Global Board Director

Jean-François Cousin, MCC

Jean-François Cousin, MCC, has been an Executive Coach for more than a decade. Previously, he served in senior leadership positions in Asia and Europe for a global company. Jean-François coaches CEOs, CXOs and board members worldwide on topics including leadership development, board relations, strategic planning, organizational and cultural change management, onboarding and role transition. A longtime member of the ICF Singapore Charter Chapter, Jean-François has contributed to multiple coaching conferences and actively supported the launch of ICF Bangkok. Dedicated to the growth of the coaching profession, he has advocated coaching to numerous corporate audiences, co-authored two books promoting coaching and written Game Changers at the Circus about unleashing greatness in organizations with a coaching culture. Jean-François currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer on the 2018 ICF Global Board.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (14)

  1. Chris Padgett, PCC, CPCC says:

    Here’s a best practice you and your board colleagues may want to consider from ASAE (the Center for Association Leadership): High Performing Organizations Embrace Transparency.

    AI, the management company that manages ICF is a member of ASAE and should be able to provide you with a login and password:

    https://www.asaecenter.org/resources/articles/an_plus/2016/july/high-performing-organizations-embrace-transparency

    • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

      Thank you very much Chris, I look forward to learning from that ASAE’s best practice.
      Kind regards,
      Jean-Francois

    • Chris Padgett, PCC, CPCC says:

      Jean-Francois, no problem and happy to share. I coach two different executive directors of membership associations, and this provides me a unique perspective on how other membership associations operate.

      I also want to share a perspective about the “black hat” approach. I graduated from the Coaches Training Institute, a school co-founded by one of the founders of ICF: Laura Whitworth. I learned a lot going through that intensive, in-person, interactive learning experience.

      One key aspect of the Co-Active model is about “Evoking Transformation.” This resonated with me very deeply because from my vantage point, the world needs to be transformed in many areas to make it a better place for humanity to thrive.

      One of the three central aspects of Co-Active coaching is process coaching. Now, I’ll likely butcher the technical definition, but my interpretation of process coaching is the coach embraces what is happening right now — in the present moment. Sometimes, that requires the coach to become extremely comfortable in a dark space or corridor.

      What I’ve experienced is in those dark corridors — the places people fear to be aware of, get comfortable with, and explore is where true learning — and ultimately real transformation occurs. So, the idea of wearing a black hat — should be celebrated and not be something to be afraid of or vilify. Many cultures embrace this methodology.

      Someone I admire greatly, Marianne Williamson, an American spiritual teacher and lecturer, says that a community is only as healthy as it’s secrets. This insight is so profound as it speaks to the learning, growth, and transformation that can occur when a spotlight is placed on dark corridors. It’s easy to stand in the light. Real growth happens when you embrace the shadows.

      Cheers,
      Chris

      • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

        Thank you so much, Chris, for offering your insights and deeply inspiring metaphors.
        Your profound conclusion, “Real growth happens when you embrace the shadows” resonates so well with me.
        Kind regards,
        Jean-Francois

      • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

        Thank you so much, Chris, for offering your insights and deeply inspiring metaphors.
        Your conclusion, “Real growth happens when you embrace the shadows” profoundly resonates with me.
        Kind regards,
        Jean-Francois

    • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

      Thank you so much, Chris, for offering your insights and deeply inspiring metaphors.
      Your conclusion, “Real growth happens when you embrace the shadows” profoundly resonates with me.
      Kind regards,
      Jean-Francois

  2. JF, I love your reminder that the final 3 competencies are just as powerful as the rest. They are often tossed out as the afterthought. But deciding to do something and actually doing it are two different things!

    I also want to say that setting goals, action plans and accountability follow new awareness. As we, the board directors, go out into the world, we should always be mindful to listen as well as share what we, as representatives of the ICF, are hoping to accomplish. As Chris mentioned above, we should be aware of the practice of transparency. We should also be open to be surprised by what all members (not just ones showing up at meetings or answer survey emails) are experiencing.

    That is what I love about the current ICF board. We are doing our best NOT to act in isolation. I hope this becomes the standard for the all ICF board directors going forward.

    Thank you for your inspiring and entertaining post!

    • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

      Thank you so much, Marcia, for sharing your views and wisdom! I fully concur.
      Hal B. Gregerson advised us at Converge17 to ‘get up, get out and be surprised’ and seek ‘what we don’t know we don’t know’.
      I feel so grateful to all colleagues and fellow ICF-members around the world I have the joy to meet, for giving me a chance to do so, as they share about their views, their challenges, what matters most to them and what’s working well.
      Such conversations significantly contribute to actualizing and enriching the ICF Strategy.
      And I look forward to meeting, sharing with and learning from our colleagues in Taiwan, Cincinnati and South Florida Chapters in the next couple of weeks, then in Tunisia, Morocco and Dubai Chapters in January.
      Warmly,
      Jean-Francois

  3. nehad tadros says:

    Beautiful article with so much meaning. ICF is growing fast and steady. We in the Middle East region are happy to see the shift to focus on our region and creating the Middle East Prism Award in 2017 is a great start.

    • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

      Dear Nehad,
      Thank you very much for your kind words. Middle East region Chapters have a lot to be proud of! And, indeed, creating the Middle East Prism Award in 2017 was a very meaning milestone.
      My colleagues at the Global Board and myself are very much looking forward to our meeting in Dubai in January and to visiting nearby Chapters.
      With best wishes,
      Jean-Francois

  4. A wonderful and inspiring article Jean-Francois. Thank you for all you do for our ICF!

    • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Anne, I am so glad you enjoyed my post! It was so great to meet you at Converge17 🙂 Thank you also for all the energy and inspiration you offer in support of our ICF and of our Profession! Happy weekend 🙂

  5. Really enjoyed reading this! And I think the “black hat” approach is great. Using the SIx Thinking Hats approach by Edward de Bono helps a team to embrace different perspectives and ensure more successful outcomes. Delighted to hear this a part of Global Board meetings!

    • Jean-Francois Cousin says:

      Thank you very much for sharing your own experience with Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats approach, Ildiko – we have observed similar outcomes from using it.
      Have a great week!
      Kind regards,
      Jean-Francois

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