Lucky 13

Thirteen years ago, I launched Horizon Leadership Institute Inc. In doing so, I launched my second career as an executive, leadership and team coach. 

This was a major personal and professional myth change. I made a conscious decision to wind down a 20-year career as a fund development leader in higher education and health care. It was time for a new professional adventure.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been reflecting on some of the core elements that have informed my practice over the last 13 years. Here is the “greatest hits list” of Horizon Leadership.

When I launched Horizon Leadership my vision was to eliminate the loneliness of leadership. This was informed by my own leadership journey. As I took on higher levels of leadership, I found it to be increasingly lonely. I also experienced vulnerability yet would never reveal that to anyone. I survived by going it alone as I believed that asking for help would have been perceived as “weak”.  Executive Coaching has been a way of being an ally and trusted partner so other leaders do not have to feel like I did.

Trust Trumps Everything. Highly effective leaders and teams master character and competency behaviours that create relationship trust. When teams or work partnerships are struggling their trust quotient is usually low or severely damaged. As Faith Fuller, one of my beloved mentors says, “In relationships, trust trumps everything”. Proactive efforts to create a culture of trust is strategic, so this is a topic I bring to coaching conversations that focus on intentional relationship design.

Listen Versus Fix – Oh boy, has this taken hold! I bring this to every client I work with and they love it. I truly believe that if we dedicated more time to active, supportive listening there would be less conflict and challenge in our work relationships. Listening also creates space for people to find their way to their own answer. Rarely do people need to be fixed. It’s a simple concept yet is a true art to do well.

Fast forward to today and an experiment I’m doing regrading listening. I am acting as the Listener in Residence at Innovation Works London. I’m testing out a theory that organizations would benefit from having a formal role of a Listener in Residence. I am using the learning to help prove the point that 20 minute listening sessions, as required, can have a profound impact on the engagement and well-being of people at work. I’m hoping to inspire organizations to use this model as part of their organizational development strategies. Stay tuned for more information on this in the next year.

Vulnerability is Courageous – The minute I heard Brené Brown’s TED Talk, it resonated with everything I knew and aligned with coaching conversations I was already having with my clients. I had the great honour of being trained by Brené and am certified as a Daring Way Facilitator. One of my greatest joys is helping leaders face their Arena moments with courage and authenticity. Exploring Daring Leadership is one of the most fulfilling elements of work that I do. It’s raw. It’s real. And, it’s necessary for unlocking the creative potential of leaders, teams and organizations.

Relationships and People First. We are social beings wired for connection and belonging. This is vital to consider in our work places. As an Organization, Relationship and Systems Coach, I help leaders and their teams find ways to achieve alignment, have courageous conversations, co-create their desired culture, and move towards shared vision and goals in proactive and creative ways. It’s been fun to teach elements of Systems Inspired Leadership to those I serve. It’s deeply important to me that we put our common humanity at the centre of our work relationships and organizational cultures. From this, organizations and teams thrive and create purposeful results together.

Baggage and Luggage -  When working with leaders and teams on change, I invite them to identify the baggage that is holding them back, honour it and then release it. I also invite them to consciously choose what practices, values, and traditions they want to bring forward and to treat that as luggage that they will pack for the next leg of their journey. Creating space for these conversations help teams face these important transitions. Before they can dream about a new future, most teams need to honour their endings, acknowledge the discomfort of the in-between or neutral place, and then turn towards their emerging future. The baggage and luggage metaphor has become a powerful construct for this tender work.

Strengths Based Development – as someone who loves to maximize the power and potential of people in their work and lives, I adore Gallup’s StrengthsFinder tool. It’s positive, simple and powerful.  While I’ve used a Strengths based approach for years, in October of 2017, I did a deep dive and trained with Gallup to become a Certified Strengths Coach. The magic of seeing people individually claim their Strengths and use them creatively in their roles is inspiring. Developing teams so they strategically use strengths partnering to create results is also fulfilling. I am proud to be part of Gallup’s global movement for Strengths Based Development.  It’s a positive way to create productivity in organizations while maximizing the natural talents of people at work.

Blue Tape Moments – anyone who has worked with me knows that there will be blue tape placed on the floor at some time. These experiences have one thing in common – to get people to develop empathy and understanding for the experiences of others. The shifts that unfold are remarkable as it wakes people up to new insights and information. It brings people together into constellations of colleagues who don’t normally interact with each other. It provokes a visceral experience of stepping into someone else’s “land” and underscores how the diversity of these experiences are impacting the team or organization. These blue tape moments are memorable and support shifts within team systems that support new ways of innovating, collaborating, and creating together.

Forest Walks – I love nature, trees and forest walking. It’s a place of restoration for me. And so, I have increasingly integrated nature based coaching into my work. If shift is truly going to happen, I have learned that taking people out of their work habitats and into nature is both healing and transformative. So, if we work together, don’t be surprised if I invite you into the forest so we can access the infinite wisdom that lives in nature.

Gratitude -- I am feeling very lucky on this 13th anniversary of the business. This is my true calling. It’s not just work or business. It’s a spiritual pursuit and a call to service. I extend huge gratitude to those who have trusted in me as their journey partner. As you have grown and changed, so have I.

As I peer over the horizon of what is emerging, I am excited. Here’s to another 13 + years of leadership and team development, creative collaborations, and impactful work.