Systemic Leadership Coaching Approach: Peter Hawkins

Ram Ramanathan  •  Apr 22, 2020  •  5 min read

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Systemic Leadership Coaching Approach: Peter Hawkins

Peter’s webinar in April 2020 through the Coacharya platform is a milestone in multiple ways. For Coacharya it is the first partnered mastery webinar in a series of many more to come. Through these, we hope to share with our community the wisdom of global gurus. 

Peter’s workshop was initially planned as a face-to-face event in Mumbai. It had to be changed, given the crisis, into a virtual one; almost all barring one or two gladly shifted. It is also a major milestone in Coacharya’s evangelical promotion of the systemic approach to coaching. We believe it is best suited for the rapidly uncertain and changing world we now live in. A world with blurred geographical and cultural boundaries and entangled remote relationships. Even as we read this, major work and lifestyle changes are taking place globally with newer norms replacing what was seen to be new till very recently.

Those whose minds are not resilient to these changes are likely to be left behind.

In Peter’s workshop, progress is confusing and unsettling, moving us into a seemingly unstable insecure discomfort zone, until we connect the dots and learn to be in comfort again, for a while. One’s fear of the future based on survival anxiety collides with our fear of learning to accept and align with change.

In Peter’s workshop, progress is confusing and unsettling, moving us into a seemingly unstable insecure discomfort zone, until we connect the dots and learn to be in comfort again, for a while. One’s fear of the future based on survival anxiety collides with our fear of learning to accept and align with change.

The systemic approach expands the geography of space; the individual self expands into a larger relationship with tribes we belong to and ecosystems that govern us. Systemic approach also expands the time horizon. While being in the present state, one reviews the past for patterns and explores the future in the near and far term. Expansion of space and time covers multiple stakeholder influences that we normally do not consider.

Questions to explore

  • How do we bring the relational field and future into our daily lives and work?
  • How do we move from our obsession with the comfort of the present and ‘me’ and ‘mine’ to the unknown relationship with the ecosystem and future?

Peter spoke of a country whose export of fruits collapsed within a period of a few years. This had nothing to do with classical theories of customer product preferences in terms of alternatives, costs, and quality. What happened was a change in the lifestyle of consumers in the way they ate breakfast, which in turn was influenced by morning TV shows. Identifying this aspect of root cause required an out of the box systemic approach.

Work and lifestyles are massively transforming with the pandemic today. It is not just the shift to virtual work; it would be millions of spokes arising of this hub in terms of relationships, education, entertainment, eating habits, sleeping habits, health and other shifts we cannot even fathom now. 

In these uncertain and unknowable moments, how can coaching be of help?

Peter took us through multiple pathways of concepts, techniques, processes, discussions, and practice that need to be experienced. A bit of what one learned to do differently are these.

What if we, as coaches started with these questions with their clients, whether individually or in teams? 

  • How can we partner together to help you and the people around you in the best way, now and in the future? 
  • Who are those around you who may in some way be influenced by what we are now exploring?  What would they be saying? How can you respond?
  • Would you like to role-play with me now on how you would commune with them on how they may influence you and you influence them? 
  • What would your own self 20 years from now like to say to you now that may be of value to you? Would you like to say that to me now?

These questions do not violate any core coaching competencies we learned. They expand the competencies we learned into mastery of space and time in a systemic way. 

When working with teams Peter advised placing a few empty chairs to invite the voices of stakeholders unrepresented in the room. It is often the 13th fairy that was not invited to the party who ruined it.

Finally, whether you are leading a large enterprise or a one-person operation, do reflect on:

  • In what ways would you need to be leading, influencing and inspiring others around you in the future, differently from the way you have done in the past and do now?
  • What are the challenges you would face in managing this shift?
  • What would be the learning you need to even think and understand these shifts, and as well as in managing and leading them?

Working with Peter helped me and others understand how to start.

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Ram Ramanathan

Ram

Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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