Amplifying the ripples in the ocean: why leadership coaching is key to community engagement

leadership Mar 11, 2015

I’ve spent my career so far working with communities and organizations to connect to each other, work together, resolve issues, and make more informed decisions. With a life’s work focusing on transforming conflict, reducing controversy and embracing and working with high emotion, I’ve been lucky to be part of some amazing projects, and work with some amazing people.

But…I’ve spent the last few years pondering some questions about the long lasting, sustainability of change that I’m creating in the world.

I’ve learned that what makes my work different than others in the field of public engagement is a focus on compassion, leadership and connection, an emphasis on working with the system as a whole, and a fierce courage to step into seemingly impossible conversations.

However, it has become clear to me that you can’t achieve long lasting, sustainable change, create caring, compassionate communities and organizations full of emerging leaders, and make more informed, long-term decisions IF your approach is:

  • focused primarily on “fixing problems” or making evident what isn’t working or where the challenges lie;

  • aligned to a public engagement approach about making change project by project (because when the project ends the momentum also ends); and

  • targeted solely to communities (and/or stakeholders) and organizations (because aren’t these groups made up of individuals?).

So, I’ve decided to amplify the ripples I create in the ocean.

I’m taking the best of the work I already do in creating spaces for constructive conversation, making evident the most important issues and values, connecting people to each other through compassion, curiosity and openness, and building capacity for leadership. And I’m going to add in some new areas of focus:

  • GOING BEYOND the conflict and controversy and working with possibility and opportunity to evoke hope and positivity;

  • GOING BEYOND focus on communities and organizations and working with individuals to explore new ways of being, becoming and achieving fulfillment; and

  • EXPANDING BEYOND a project by project basis to a focus on creating momentum for positive change outside of projects into every day life.

When I figured out what needed to be different in my practice, I also needed to come up with HOW to make this real. As in, what do I do for a living if I’m going to adjust or change my focus to expand beyond? What is the same? What might be different? Building on these questions, I’m going to continue to focus on FACILITATION of important conversations; expand our TRAINING practice to build capacity, skills and knowledge for improved conversations and leadership; and enhance COACHING services to support individuals to achieve positive change.

I’ve coached clients, students, colleagues and community members on countless projects over the last many years, but never formalized my coaching practice until now.

I’m taking my certification through CTI and the program is inspiring, challenging and fulfilling. And it has affirmed for me that working with individuals, alongside communities and organizations, will contribute to making long lasting and sustainable, positive change in the world. When people change in positive ways, they impact those around them, and that change affects groups and organizations, communities and society as a whole.

My training as a coach has affirmed for me that the lessons I’ve learned about connection, compassion and courage are valuable to supporting people to be their best and fulfill their goals. It has brought together my experience in authentic leadership, conflict resolution, facilitation and community development with clarity and focus on evoking hope and positivity.

It is this possibility and transformation that is inspiring and full of awesome possibility. What could we do if we brought our whole hearts into conversation, dug deep to discover what matters most, and focused on taking positive actions in the world?

In developing my coach practice, I recently had to send a client some questions to start exploring their future goals. Maybe answering a few of them will help you think about your future differently. Or create an opportunity for reflection in a busy day? Or inspire you to take actions to create positive change?

  • Think about 1 or 2 people who really inspire you. What about them is inspiring?

  • What are you very grateful for?

  • What gets you up in the morning and adds meaning and value to your day?

  • If time and resources were not a concern, describe the things you long to do.

  • When are you at your very best? What does that look and feel like?

  • What is stopping you from achieving your dreams and goals?

  • What tips do you have for the people in your life to help them support, encourage and urge you forward in positive ways?

  • If you could take 1 action to make your life, your work, your community more positive and fulfilling, what would it be?

I’d love to hear from you with answers to these questions. And if you need a coach, you know where to find me! Nurturing compassion, connection and abundance in others is my passion, and I’d love to help you too.


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