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Crossing Borders and Systemic Coaching, now let's be honest!

Geographical or psychological "borders"?

I'll be honest! I'm a bit nervous...and I shouldn't be! I mean, after all, I'm a coach! I'm always encouraging other people to step out of THEIR comfort zones and now it's MY turn!  Let me explain.  After 20 years of working as an intercultural trainer and coach in France, I am coming to Luxembourg to start my coaching business.  I'm crossing a border...literally and figuratively.  I will be one of the tens of thousands of commuters coming in from France...where the border goes unnoticed except perhaps for a momentary disruption with the wifi. (Incidentally, I do not take this freedom of movement for granted.)

As an intercultural coach and a lifelong expatriate, I've learned to adjust to life in half a dozen countries. I've learned 4 languages...a fact which I guess makes me a pretty atypical American. This being said, if there's one thing I've learned as a senior expatriate coach, it's this: no one is typical...or at least, no one considers himself or herself as typical. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the large majority of expats have made a conscious decision to live outside their home culture...for whatever reason.

I come to multicultural Luxembourg as a systemic coach for one very simple reason: there is a need, a real need for multicultural teams to work more effectively.

Let's be honest! People work side by side "on teams", in environments which are less than ideal. Crossing a geographical border may be much easier than walking down a corridor and into someone's office for an honest conversation. Now we all know that no one walks into their workplace with their hands in their pockets. In other words, we all carry with us some kind of "briefcase". Whether or not we are conscious of it, we all bring in our own work styles and contribute to the "energy" of a group. As a systemic coach, I work with this energy to create positive environments.

So then, what do I have in MY briefcase? A lot of team-building activities to build awareness and a remarkably precise tool called the DiSC.  More than a personality assessment questionnaire, the DiSC helps individuals understand their tendencies and their behavior AT WORK. Think of it as a kind of map useful for navigation within a company. You see, I'm a intercultural and systemic coach and NOT a team building trainer. (I have never liked the word "trainer", it brings to mind circus animals.) Let's be honest. How many of us have had to participate in team-building trainings that felt 'forced' with an artificially "cheerful" environment. As we say in English, BTDT - "Been there, done that! No, thank you!"

Systemic coaching activities such as the DiSC let participants explore their own (and others') behaviour, not with judgment but with curiosity. Simply seeing where one is positioned (in one of 4 quadrants) can be extremely useful in understanding one's own work tendencies and expectations.  A debriefing with a certified coach (moi!) invariably leads to a discussion on areas of challenge and (therefore) growth.

Much can be learned when employees are given the opportunity to review and reflect on where they are positioned on the DiSC. How can Philippe (a "D" on the Disc) in Marketing communicate more effectively with Ming (an "S") in the Customer Service department? Why does the accounting department always turn a deaf ear to sales? What efforts need to be made to reassure, persuade or motivate one another? To what extent does our home culture encourage (or discourage) the expression of open disagreement? This kind of awareness is particularly useful in joint ventures where different corporate cultures may need some encouragement to perform effectively. Understanding and awareness are important but for real growth and lasting change, two elements are necessary: Trust and PRACTICE!

Not surprisingly, I land in the red section of the circle...INFLUENCE ...which makes sense for a leadership and systemic coach.  My strength is bringing people together...inspiring people, bringing vision to those I work with! I facilitate in English, French and Mandarin Chinese.  If you're at all curious about the DiSC, leadership coaching, or how can I help your company engage your multicultural employees then I'd be happy to send on more information!

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