EPISODE #023: ECLECTIC TEAM COACHING: BRAIN-FRIENDLY APPROACHES FOR SUSTAINABLE CHANGEPODCAST SHOW NOTES - GILBERT BRENSON-LAZAN
Gilbert Brenson-Lazan, Social Psychologist and the Founding Parter of Amauta International, LLC
#023: Eclectic Team Coaching: Brain-Friendly Approaches for Sustainable Change
Join Dr. Krister Lowe and leading organizational coach Gilbert Brenson-Lazan for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast. Gilbert is a Social Psychologist and the Founding Parter of Amauta International, LLC.–an organization dedicated to optimizing wisdom, efficacy and resilience with top management teams in the Americas, through the facilitation of meaningful conversations. Professor Lazan has forty years of teaching, facilitation and coaching experience in the Americas and in 13 other countries. He is the author of 34 books and texts, and has presented in over 40 international professional conferences. He was a founding member and President of Global Facilitators Service Corps (GFSC) and is an Honorary Member of the Asociación Latinoamericano de Facilitadores-ALFA. A seventeen-year member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), he was past International Vice-Chair and received the 1999 IAF Global Stewardship Award, the 2010 IAF Community Outreach Award, and was inducted into the first IAF Facilitators Hall of Fame in 2014.
In this episode Gilbert shares his inspiring journey into team facilitation and coaching that has continued to evolve over a period of 40 years. He shares his perspectives on the role of appreciative inquiry, positive psychology and solution-focused coaching in his approach to team coaching. He draws insights on the role of meaningful conversation and its impact on neuroscience and culture change in organizations, families and communities. Gilbert shares a number of powerful stories of hits and misses coaching teams including a compelling story of a 3-year transformation of a beverage company’s leadership culture and the story of supporting a community following a volcanic eruption that resulted in the devastating loss of 26,000 residents of a town.
This episode is overflowing with inspiration as well as practical insights, tips and tools that will help every new and experienced team coach take their practice to the next level!
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1. MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) online courses – Barbara Fredrickson
2. Virginia Satir: Mother of Family Therapy, Change Process Model – https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Virginia_Satir
3. Cooperrider, D. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change.
Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Gilbert Brenson-Lazan
- Gilbert is a Social Psychologist
- Founding Parter of Amauta International, LLC.–an organization dedicated to optimizing wisdom, efficacy and resilience with top management teams in the Americas, through the facilitation of meaningful conversations.
- Professor Lazan has forty years of teaching, facilitation and coaching experience in the Americas and in 13 other countries.
- He is the author of 34 books and texts, and has presented in over 40 international professional conferences.
- He was a founding member and President of Global Facilitators Service Corps (GFSC) and is an Honorary Member of the Asociación Latinoamericano de Facilitadores-ALFA.
- A seventeen-year member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), he was past International Vice-Chair and received the 1999 IAF Global Stewardship Award, the 2010 IAF Community Outreach Award, and was inducted into the first IAF Facilitators Hall of Fame in 2014.
- Semi-retired: travels about twice a month; works in Latin and South America as well as the United States.
- Enjoys outdoor photography, married with 5 children and 10 grand children
- Always strived to reinvent himself every 5 to 10 years; world is moving fast so tries to keep up; physical sciences and the social sciences are getting closer and closer
- Amauta – named given to the educators to the indigenous people of Peru, the royalty. The children were entrusted to the Amauta 2,000 years ago. Was not top-down in style. They taught them through experiences.
- Made a living doing outdoor photography to pay for his post-graduate education. A hobby since he was 7 years old.
- Currently working on two books, does a lot of online virtual coaching with teams
- Grew up in a family where father wanted him to become an astronaut and mother wanted him to be a doctor.
- Found his way to Social Psychology – was during the Kennedy administration; when Nixon came to power he became frustrated and went into TV journalism for a time. He was an investigative reporter.
- Was sent to Columbia to do a documentary film on the massacre of some Indian tribes by some Columbia police officials who wanted to sell the land for the oil that was there. Became disillusioned with TV production and went back to Social Psychology.
- He taught in University, transactional analysis, and had a practice and then he met his future wife and 1 year led to 2 years and then to a whole lifetime living and working in the region.
- He was in Latin America for 38 years. Started experimenting with different ways of working with groups, teams and communities. Didn’t like top-down control model. Began experimenting and developed model which he later discovered was called facilitation.
- Got involved in the facilitation community in the US. Started working with facilitation of groups, team and communities and especially in disasters. Helped rebuild communities with a coaching and facilitation mindset.
- Worked for 2 years training facilitators after Katrina.
- As he got older he started working with top management teams. Found that executive teams can be far more productive if they can change the way they think and action in their conversations with their people.
- Influenced by: appreciative inquiry, positive psychology, solution-focused coaching
- Coaches top management teams of transnational companies often who are struggling with cultural issues trying to set-up effective operations.
- Has learned a lot from his own mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake so long as you are willing to learn from it.
- Advent of neuroscience has show us how behaviors and conversational behaviors impact different parts of the brain. Now science has caught up with some of our old theories and concepts. Not just a touchy feel good thing. Our brains change when we talk and act differently and we can facilitate that process.
- Reference: MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) online courses – Barbara Fredrickson: balances neuroscience and appreciative mindset, belonging in teams, and having an overall vision
- Solution-focused coaching starte in England: giving up paralysis through analysis and rather focus on something that might work better the next time; working on the future and not on the past and working on strengths rather than reducing weaknesses; creativity and innovations in looking at new options in teams
- Feels facilitation, coaching, mentoring, consulting, etc… overlap a lot and the distinctions don’t really matter than much. Doesn’t want to get hung up when they overlap. Stop worrying about the labels. What are you doing for your clients?
- Has his own definitions but they are not “the” definitions; thinks the base to all of these methods is facilitation; its the base.
- With a given team will use a range of methods and tools depending on what the team needs and given its stage of development.
- Works over a long period of time with a team: starts with a one day session and then does half day follow-ups every month and then every other month and then weans the team off and cuts it loose.
- Has worked with teams, families and communities – all are related.
- Sustainable change with a team takes time and at the center its about trust and building trust. Co-create trust.
- Team coaching is one of the most important tools now for helping organizations change and develop.
- Important to avoid giving pre-determined team coaching programs to clients. Co-creation requires not having it scripted out that you impose. Go in with some ideas and tools and use the ones that are most relevant and needed.
- Structure and plan reduces our anxiety but it increases our client’s anxieties.
Part 2 – Stories of “Hits and Misses” Coaching Teams
- Story #1 – Miss – An Important Learning
- Former student, HR VP of Company with strong top down pyramid command and control culture
- HR VP was gung ho about radicalizing and shaking up the company – said leadership team and President were on board
- Planned for off-site with some follow-ups
- Exec team: 9 execs, president and VP’s
- Failed miserably: didn’t do his homework to find out what the President’s perception was on the program.
- HR VP intention was good and wanted to introduce them to some new ways of doing things.
- The execs felt very threatened by Gilbert’s approach
- Lesson Learned:
- Always insists on meeting with exec team in order to manage expectations;
- More coaches fail because they don’t clear up the expectations of the C-suite;
- Getting the top people aligned.
- One can do a great job engaging middle management but that can backfire and set up a confrontation with senior management;
- Learned that you never should treat a person without considering and treating the super system. The same is true of systems and its super systems including teams;
- Have to be careful of your sponsors and ensuring to test assumptions; we as coaches can be lax to check out assumptions even though we coach leaders to check out their own assumptions.
- The ones who suffer are the ones who get excited by your work and when they start engaging the top management and get push-back they can get disappointed.
- Be careful of sweet talking by CEO’s and being conned into doing the work when the appetite for real change may not be there.
- Story #2 – Hit – Leadership Culture Change in a Beverage Company
- Question of constant follow-up.
- Regional President of one of the largest beverage companies in the world.
- Wanteded to change the culture of leadership
- Started 6 months of negotiation in order to get in agreement on the work: he wanted one size fits all, same thing for every one of the countries, for Gilbert to do everything, etc…
- Gilbert insisted on that this not be “top down teaching” and that he wanted to develop “leader-facilitators” in the company who will meet every month for 3 years of program and will facilitate the workshops where they practice what they learned in the last workshop.
- President said his people didn’t have time for this – after 6 months he got on board
- Program is now finishing up after three years: 7,000 leaders (middle and to management) have gone through a course, training and have monthly follow-up sessions with their internal facilitators who they continue to coach.
- Impact: directly on bottom line; Latin America was the only region that made a profit during the tough market. Company is in over 90 countries
- Research and focus groups have found the employees saying: “We feel like the company now talks about ‘we” and not about what I or my boss wants; and every team uses ‘we’ now; our feedback conversations and the way we talk has changed our teams.
- Meaningful Conversations – name of the program
- Internal studies have showed a radical change in the leadership culture of the organization.
- Tremendous support from the President of the region and the Presidents of each country
- They did it with themselves; Gilbert and his team supported and facilitated; Gilbert continued to coach the executive team.
- Selected leader-facilitators very carefully and spend a lot of time training them as facilitators: 300
- Gilbert and his team of 9 facilitators were constantly coaching the team of internal facilitators.
- Leader-facilitators were so excited by the first results and impacts on their own teams that they got excited.
- Historically the culture of the organization was a top-down European style of task orientation and culturally bumped up against people who had a relational style orientation.
- Gilbert writing a book on this that was commissioned by the company.
- Story #3 – Hit – A Disaster Intervention in Columbia
- 28 years ago a volcano blew off and melted an ice-capped mountain that resulted in a mud slide and 26,000 people died.
- President of the company knew of Gilbert’s work and ask him to come in.
- Gilbert led a psycho-social program over 2 years to help people get through their loss and help them reorganize their communities.
- Team of Gilbert’s facilitators went and lived in the zone for 2 years accompanying the people and used the same facilitation principles vs. teaching.
- Linguistic empowerment – modifications of conversation to help them think differently about what happened to them and it was very successful.
- University of Por Lima in Columbia did a 5 year follow-up study and they found that being able to sit down and have meaningful conversations with one another made all the difference. Helped them avoid falling into victim trap. Helped them rebuild their own communities rather than having NGO community come in and do it for them.
- They were the owners of the process and not the victims of a process.
- Gilbert has always believed that culture (organization, ethnic, team, etc…) has as its DNA the conversations it has…those conversations don’t have to be threatening.
- Has always worked on modifying the way he talks and the way he facilitates meaningful conversations.
- The biggest window of opportunity that any team coach can have with his or her clients is the way he/she converses with them.
Part 3 – Parting Advice/Recommended Resources/Contact Gilbert
- Parting advice: “just do it”…team coaching is wonderful vehicle for making lasting transcendental change in organizations, families, in cultures and we can use the word team loosely or tightly whatever you wish.
- Has always leveraged Virgina Satir’s model but always working on linguistic empowerment and looking toward the future and not on dwelling on the past.
- There is so much great info out there. You don’t need to go get another master’s degree. Go online and look at the solution-focused coaching and positive psychology.
- Recommends: don’t read the book asking “do I want to do this or not?”; ask yourself “what parts of this would work with me and resonates with my style?” Not every school of thought or approach is compatible with a coach’s personality.
- Appreciative Inquiry, Solution-focused Coaching and Positive Psychology with linguistic empowerment focus are recommended by Gilbert
- Ask a colleague for peer coaching: no one should go without periodically without getting some observation and getting some feedback. We need to know how other people are perceiving us and not just thinking they are perceiving us in some certain way.
- Contact Gilbert: