Thursday, May 23, 2013

The English Queen as Mentor/Coach

Last night I started watching the ABC series ‘Our Queen’ and what really struck me was the part about how the Queen gives a weekly audience to the Prime Minister. At these meetings she has a right and a duty to express her views on Government matters. If either The Queen or the Prime Minister are not available to meet, then they will speak by telephone.

This sounds to me like face-to-face and phone mentor/coaching.  

This special relationship The Queen has with the Prime Minister, the senior political figure in the British Government occurs regardless of their political party. As the constitutional monarch, The Queen remains politically neutral and she retains the ability to give a regular audience to a Prime Minister during his or her term of office. 

These meetings, as with all communications between The Queen and her Government, remain strictly confidential. Having expressed her views, The Queen abides by the advice of her ministers. 

This aligns to the practices of the mentor/coach (The Queen) and the client (The Prime Minister) this one-on-one confidential relationship built on trust and respect. The mentor/coach’s role, is to facilitate a conversation in which there is a flow from one stage to another, and ultimately from general problem to specific solution(s). To ‘Do’ Coaching is to facilitate a process of learning and achievement. As a facilitator, a coach oversees, advises, and manages the process of learning and of gaining results.  They are responsible for directing the structure, and focusing the conversation to support client learning and achievement.

Mentor/Coaches can seek permission and offer ‘advice’ and the client; in this case the Prime Minister makes the decision on what actions they will take.  Let us image some of the coaching questions used by The Queen, they could be: non-judgmental; open; contextual; challenging; exploratory; compassionate, option generating; encouraging deeper thinking and reflection, timely and without an agenda.

So you may be wondering - who has The Queen mentor/coached during her reign?
  • Winston Churchill 1951-55
  • Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57
  • Harold Macmillan 1957-63
  • Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64
  • Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76
  • Edward Heath 1970-74
  • James Callaghan 1976-79
  • Margaret Thatcher 1979-90
  • John Major 1990-97
  • Tony Blair 1997-2007
  • Gordon Brown 2007-2010
  • David Cameron from 2010
For a conversation on mentor/coaching contact

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Retreating to the hills to find your voice

On the weekend, I co-facilitated a Wellbeing Retreat for Women that centred on offering a range of tools and techniques to support women to able them to listen to their own voice and develop some approaches and skills to facilitate more effective speaking and listening.

We used material from the following sources: 
  • Ontology of the Human Observer. This has emerged from significant developments in philosophy and biology in the latter part of the 20th century, and provides a powerful new practical understanding of human beings and the nature of human communication.
  • Mindfulness and Movement. Mindfulness practice involved periods of time throughout the retreat to develop capacity to know your thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and attitudes in a non judgmental way. Movement included gentle stretching and massage.
  • Parker J Palmer's, Centre for Courage and Renewal. Joining soul and role, bringing your authentic self to what you do so your life is congruent.
to create reflective, nurturing, learning spaces for women. We also laughed, talked and shared stories, food, drinks and walks in nature.

One of the key elements explored with the women was a model by Seiler on ‘Balancing Advocacy and Inquiry”.








                        Low                        High                                  

In this model your effectiveness of conversations for (i) getting things done, (ii) generating new ideas and (iii) building constructive working relationships is influenced by your use of Advocacy and Inquiry. Advocacy – statements expressing the desires, preferences, intentions and concerns of the speaker. Inquiry – listening and asking questions.
  • High advocacy, low inquiry - saying what you know and believe; one-way traffic 
  • High inquiry, low advocacy - speaker not expressing thoughts and feelings; oriented to gathering information 
  • Low inquiry, low advocacy - a low contributing approach. 
  • High advocacy, high inquiry - an approach for mutual communication.
Using the various combinations will be appropriate for you at different times and in different circumstances. Having this model enables you to speak and listen more effectively. For a conversation contact  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to stay ‘in’ your body when presenting to an audience

Well you may ask…where else am I going to go! If you are like most people, then public speaking or presenting is one of your major fears and what can often happen is we ‘leave’ our body.
One of the things that can happen is that because you are so nervous prior to presenting your energy can escape you and you feel light headed and not grounded. A way to manage this is to start to consciously observe your body so that you can manage your energy. 

So how can you stay in your body so that you can be at your resourceful best at getting your message across? Let me explore with you what happens and offer you some strategies.

People experience a variety of emotions prior to presenting to an audience, this can range from fear, anxiety to excitement and wonder. Our bodily processes can range from panic, paralyses, butterflies in the stomach, sweaty hands and a dry mouth to enthusiasm and passion. Your nervousness causes physiological reactions which can be attributed to the increase of adrenaline in your system. Sometimes the last place you want to be standing is on the stage. 

The trick is to calm your body from the inside. You can do this by starting with your language, say to yourself ‘stay in my body’, then image a string from the top of your head pulling you up and then running through your body grounding you to the earth. Visualise delivering your presentation to an audience that is keen, interested, smiling and reacting positively. Reinforce this positive image in your mind so you can recall it right before you are ready to present.

The following are some practical physical things you can do.

  • Smile, this sends a positive message to yourself and can send positive chemicals (emotions) through your body.

  • Drink some water, your adrenalin can cause a dry mouth, this can lead to you getting tongue-tied. Ensure you have a glass of water nearby and take a sip occasionally.

  • Practice deep breathing, your adrenalin can cause you to breath shallowly. By breathing deeply your brain will get the oxygen it needs and the slower pace will trick your body into believing you are calmer. It also helps if your voice quivers, which can occur when your breathing is irregular.

  • Speak more slowly, take a longer pause between sentences, this slower pace will calm you down, and it will also make you easier to hear, especially at the back of a large room.

  • Move around during your presentation, this helps you to burn up some of your nervous energy.

  • Think about your audience – give them what information you have…this is your time to put it across to them and shine.

For a further conversation on how to enjoy public speaking contact