Judi Light-Hopson of Hopson Global Education and Training interviewed Jeff Brunson in early 2012. Following is that interview:
1. Do a lot of people feel trapped in their career roles?
In a manner of speaking they do. More specifically they feel trapped by the busyness of this 21st Century in which we live and work.
2. What common complaints do you hear in working with individuals?
I am often asked about the major concern of those who come to me for leadership coaching and from the groups with whom I work and to whom I speak. That complaint in a word: “Focus.” More aptly, it is a lack of focus or the inability to focus. Again, this has to do with ‘overwhelm’ in the 21st Century workplace.
3. If you sat down with someone–a 40-year-old RN, for example–how would you begin the coaching process? Would you ask him or her about personal goals? Would you start by asking, “What are your frustrations at work?”
The actual act of Coaching would indeed begin with identifying and defining the individual’s core Values. However, we would begin our relationship as I inquired about the 3 things the individual would most like to accomplish in taking this time for self−as time for self is the intention of Coaching. Goals (the one goal as I like to do it) are only part of the discussion after the individual has the appropriate level of foundational consciousness about who they are. Frustrations surface throughout the process, and my job as Coach is to ‘bucket’ these for later goal and strategy work.
4. If you wanted to help a paramedic, nurse, doctor or hospital CEO gain insight into his or her values, such as love of family or desire for more education, how would these values play into that person’s decision-making process?
Values are the system by which we each make our choices and decisions. Most are simply doing so unconsciously. My process is to lead the individual to a more conscious presence with what they value most. And, love of family is indeed a good example of a value. More education however would be a possible strategy to support the goal in the tangible (external) part of my process and methodology.
5. You speak in your book, Wading the Stream of Awareness, about “desire and intent.” When we all start out in life, we may or may not grasp the desires of our heart. But, you encourage people to get back to their inner passions, right?
Absolutely correct! As my late storytelling friend, Kathryn Tucker Windham taught through example, “interest creates energy.” It all begins with desire. In our society, we somehow tragically learn to suppress desire. But that is another topic for another day. As I encourage the authenticity of the individual with whom I’m working, she begins to reconnect with original intent−inner passions as you point out.
This is why I am committed to assisting the individual in stating their unique Desire & Intent for those they lead, influence, and serve. Through this succinct, 3-point Desire & Intent, she allows her passion to be energized by what is most valued as it all flows-out to others.
6. Is it a good thing to follow your heart? Will this work in today’s society, or do we have to compromise our feelings to make the big corporations and government agencies stay on track?
Yes. However, we have corrupted the term ‘follow your heart’ by believing this only means to ‘do your own thing.’ While it may mean that for one particular person in one particular stage of their life, this is misleading. In whatever work we choose to ‘put our hand to’, we must follow our heart. To follow one’s heart is precisely what I’m assisting the individual in doing by acting on their unique Desire & Intent.
7. Let’s look at coaching for a state EMS director, for example. Would your helping a person in such a large role benefit the goals and practices of the whole agency? Does coaching reach that far, or could it reach that far in benefiting many people?
I certainly hate to be a broken record, but I don’t mind one bit being repetitive on such an important topic. This leader’s Desire & Intent is the key to this leader’s unique brand of Impact in the world through their work. I’ve never seen a leader’s Desire & Intent that was not all about the environment in which all those being led, influenced, and served operate, create, contribute, and benefit. Coaching simply builds the confidence of this leader. The people who make up said agency benefit from the direct, consciously focused actions of such a leader.
8. Do you think we have a lot of wasted human potential because people feel stuck? Do they sometimes decide, at some point, to do the minimum to get by?
This is occurring all over, all the time. But we should understand why. In her new book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman shows us the difference between the ‘diminishers’ and the ‘Multipliers.’ When people are under the rule of a diminishing environment, research shows that they are operating at about 50%. Under a Multiplier, people are expected to give their best; and gladly do so. A diminishing style of managing creates spoken and unspoken rules that say to the people, “I want you to come up with ideas, but they probably will not be as good as mine.”
My client, Doug, is a Multiplier. I love what he says; “I hate it when I’m the smartest person in the room.” Doug encourages and expects the best from each person.
9. Leaders, of course, set the emotional and professional “tone” in the workplace. If someone in a leadership role feels more empowered, perhaps through private coaching, this would help that leader empower others, right?
This is where I really get into people’s heads, because I believe that Love is the most important aspect of leadership in the 21st Century. The 21st Century belongs to the Aware, Focused, and Loving leader.
The 21st Century leader is someone who has discovered, and lives in, A New Confidence. This means they have opened to a conscious presence with the confidence found in their own authenticity. And from this confidence, they now lead others to their own authentic confidence in the work they have chosen to put their hand to.
This is empowering. It’s okay to love our work, and in our work, love.
10. Could coaching, conceivably, affect a hospital’s bottom line? If key people started to work with a coach on their leadership skills, for instance, would this play out in the market place?
I believe it to be so. Let’s go back to the Multipliers. In this transforming global economy, it is more important than ever that we leverage the interest creating energy of every person in our employ. Liz Wiseman says, “An unsafe environment yields only the safest ideas.” We need leaders who are creating safe environments where people are challenged to be the best of who they are and unleashing the creativity that originally made this country great.
Where do we start to create such environments? This starting point is the reason I started Coaching; Our Leaders. We build trust in such safe environments.
And as far as the market, Stephen M.R. Covey in his book, The Speed of Trust, gives us a great formula:
When Trust goes down, Cost goes up and Profit goes down.
When Trust goes up, Cost goes down and Profit goes up.
11. Should hospital corporations or EMS departments entertain the idea of hiring good career coaches to work with key people? Do you see this having an ongoing domino effect to reduce stress–making each workplace more enjoyable and productive?
Of course I will say, “Yes.” And my reasons are in many of the previous answers. So I will not belabor them, even though I’m more than willing to!
Trust reduces stress. From my book, A New Conversation:
“Trust begins with each of us as we live from our authentic self in a confident manner. This is how we will rebuild and maintain trust in these challenging times; a revolutionary approach as we focus on each individual in the larger organization. The reasoning of this method is simple; your external success begins with your internal success. How you build trust in your world begins with trusting.”
12. How would an individual recognize a good coach? Would someone ask a coach for personal recommendations? Is there a way to chat briefly by phone–to establish initial rapport, for example?
First of all, I always offer an initial dialogue to inquire as to 1) why the individual is considering coaching, and 2) whether we are a good match: Will my method benefit the particular individual in the specific present moment where they find themselves concerned?
One way to recognize whether a particular coach is right for you or not is to fully understand his or her process: What is their methodology? And it cannot hurt to know someone who has worked with the coach with whom you are considering engaging.
I will leave you with this: My life’s purpose is played-out in work where I’m free to encourage the individual. Encouragement is the strength of my voice. I love to quote Gil Bailie:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”