Kurt Lewin wrote many years ago about the three stages of planned change. He noted that change (and learning) occurs only after an “unfreezing” process. For many people who are facing leadership challenges, the processes of self-reflection or of being observed by another person are simply too threatening: They do not “unfreeze” through these processes, but rather tend to become even more “frozen” in their current images of self and their behavior patterns. Many of these reticent clients will find instrumented coach-based consulting (CBC) to be effective, as will those leaders who are thirsting for more “information” about themselves and about their impact on those around them. They will find a certain amount of detachment in the review and analysis of personality classifications, competency ratings—or in the numerical information or verbatim quotes presented, for example, in a multi-rater feedback report. In the latter case, they will appreciate not only the privacy afforded them in their own initial review of this information but also the confidentiality afforded those who complete the feedback edition of the survey and/or the organizational culture survey. Everyone gains a certain amount of protection and distance, which sets the stage for a preliminary and often quite tentative exploration of one’s own personal perspectives and values (reflective CBC).
Multi-rater instrumented CBC even tends to arouse curiosity about the bases upon which other people arrive at their perceptions of the CBC client’s attitudes and behaviors: “Is it something I do or is it what other people do when they are around me or is it something about the organizational culture in which we work and relate that leads to these perceptions and assumptions about my behavior?” This in turn may lead to a growing interest on the part of reticent or inquisitive clients in a fuller and deeper understanding of their own personality as well as the culture in which they are operating. Based on this new understanding and appreciation of their own personality as it interplays with the culture of their organization, these clients might even wish to receive feedback from an observational coach-based consultant regarding their real-time performance in a variety of roles.
The Purposes of Instrumented CBC
Instrumented coach-based consulting enables clients to learn about their personality preferences but also to receive feedback from other people about how their behavior is perceived. The client and her coach-based consultant can then use this information to reflect on the extent to which the client’s behavior patterns do seem to be dependent on the work environment. When an appreciative approach is taken, the client will gain valuable insights regarding the nature and scope of her strengths, as well as discover the settings and roles in which other people perceive these strengths as valuable, and the intentions other people may assign to the client’s (over-)use of these strengths.