March 3-6, 2016, I had the unique opportunity to participate in the International Coach Federation Global Leaders Forum (GLF). Other ICF Ohio Valley Chapter leaders attending included Chapter President-Elect Janet Fulton, ACC, and Chapter Past President and current President of ICF Midwest Ann Huttner, PCC. The forum was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and brought together chapter leaders from around the globe.
Taking Advantage of the In Between Space
I arrived many hours prior to the beginning of the Global Leaders Forum and so I used this time to do what I do anytime I visit a new city: visit the city’s art museum.
In Charlotte, I ordered a Lyft from the Renaissance Hotel and headed to the Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art which is located next door to the Mint Museum. In these places, I viewed some artwork that helped me understand the culture and history of Charlotte.
An art museum is a portal into the perspective of people. I find they ground me to what matters to the people in a particular geography. Art is neither right nor wrong. Viewing it helps me understand the choices, values, and priorities of the curators who chose to hang it in a museum and the creators who chose to create it. Here are three highlights from what I viewed in Charlotte:
Feeling more grounded in Charlotte, I was ready to be present for the forum kickoff and ready to listen, learn, and share with colleagues from throughout the global community.
Positive Disruptions in Leadership
This was the third ICF leaders forum I’ve attended. Last year’s in Atlanta celebrated the 20th anniversary of our professional community and a regional leaders forum was held in Cleveland in 2014. In case you’re curious, you can read my blog about the 2015 GLF here. The 2016 theme was extremely fitting: “LeaderShift: Positive Disruptions in Leadership.” As leaders of a professional global community we have a big choice to make in our leadership approach: Will we be Agents of Change? or Stewards of the Status Quo? Or Both?
This message was eloquently conveyed during a kick-off talk by Leda Turai Petrauskiene, MCC, the 2016 ICF Global Board Chair who boldly challenged us to be curious and courageous in examining our own thinking patterns, assumptions, principles, and habits.
The true beauty of the GLF experience is the bringing together an extremely diverse leaders of the professional coaching community from all over the earth for connection, sharing, learning and fellowship.
ICF Ohio Valley Globally Recognized
GLF kicked off with a bang for ICF Ohio Valley: the chapter won a global recognition award for high performance and overall excellence!
This was a complete surprise and what made it extra special was knowing the selection was made by a judging panel comprised of peer coaches from all over the world.
A total of 12 chapter received this recognition and you can view a list of them all here. Three chapters from the USA (Ohio Valley, Raleigh, and New York) were recognized.
Congrats to Noa Ronen, ACC, from ICF Raleigh and Margaret Walsh from ICF NYC on their chapter recognition, and congrats to colleagues all over the world for earning this special honor!
For Ohio Valley, this honor is dedicated to the 107 human members working as professional coaches in Kentucky, West Virginia, southern Ohio, and southern Indiana.
A Tapestry of Experiences
The forum was a tapestry of inspirational keynote presentations, informal networking, and idea labs. In particular I found the unstructured aspects of the conference to create exactly the kind of creative thinking container that mature global leaders of the coaching profession need to spark change and partnership through conversation.
Two keynotes of note were particularly good: an opening talk by Kate Canales, research professor and director of design and innovation at the SMU Lyle School of Engineering and a closing keynote by Cal Newport, a professor at Georgetown University and the author of Deep Work.
These two talks alone made the GLF a extremely valuable investment of time. Kate inspired participants to think big and Cal inspired us to think deeply. I previously heard Cal speak several years ago at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, and believe he’s putting forward a valuable contrarian view to the Twitter obsessed, attention deficit based world we find ourselves living in today.
Four global leaders made talks during the conference: Jurgen Bache, president of ICF Deutschland, Suzanne Ricard-Greenway, ACC, past president of ICF Vancouver, Jim Milner, MCC, president of ICF Wisconsin, and Abdallah Aljurf, ACC, president of ICF Saudi Arabia who challenged all participants to bring light to darkness. All were excellent presentations.
Abdullah’s talk really resonated as it connected to me on a heart level. My life’s work is centered around shining a light on darkness and blindspots that leaders, teams, and organizations typically shy away from and/or find uncomfortable. Shining a bright spotlight in these — often invisible spaces — brings awareness, identifies hidden gems, reveals powerful learning, and sparks explosive growth. While many believe growth only happens in the sunlight, I consistently find that organic growth is typically lurking somewhere near a shadow, stigma, secret, or self-limiting belief of a leader, team, organization, or community. These are powerful places for awareness, reflection, learning, and growth.
After 21 years, the once small organization envisioned by Thomas Leonard, has experienced explosive growth in the past few years.
There are many factors for the growth including: market acceptance of coaching, the global economic downturn, and expansion of the coaching movement into countries all over the globe.
This growth is requiring global leaders to examine some fundamental questions: What’s needed? What’s next? and What’s possible? What do we need to stand for? A focused space for conversations on this topic were 16 Idea Labs on diverse topics ranging from Bold Ideas in Leadership and Governance, to the Age of Technology, to Building a Bigger Table through Alliances and Partnerships and many more.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the GLF was each participant chose to attend whichever Idea Lab resonated most deeply with him or her.
I chose to attend three based upon issues that are important to me and my leadership approach: Building a Bigger Table through Alliances and Partnerships, Bold Ideas in Leadership and Governance, and Membership Engagement — all relevant topics to my experience as a chapter leader within this global community.
In particular, I was inspired by partnership examples shared by Inta Sellick, PCC, from ICF Australasia and Roa Nonen, ACC, from ICF Raleigh. The insights shared by these two will inform the partnership initiative being developed for ICF Ohio Valley based upon a model previously created and shared with our chapter by Michael Jahraus, PCC from ICF Vancouver.
These conversations were extremely valuable and there was a combination of listening and sharing that took place. It may make sense in the future to consider adding some Open Space concepts to these conversation containers as some of the participants (and those who stepped forward to facilitate) struggled with the format.
I picked up some good insights and ideas to bring back to the Ohio Valley and I uncovered some issues that will help me to better participate and advocate in the global community — chief among them being the need for ICF global communications to be made more broadly available in languages outside of English.
Language is a global equalizer and embracing this need will require some pattern disruptions within our community to occur so others can more fully participate.
I needed a break after the third Idea Lab, so I chose to take a walk to get some fresh air with my friend Randy Fernandez, ACC, president of ICF North Texas. Randy, like me, is a Co-Active Coach. The final batch of Idea Labs didn’t resonate with me and I’m glad Randy and I decided to catch-up and take a walk around the hotel property to decompress.
Randy and I discussed the highs and lows of leading a chapter and shared some best practices that we’ve found helpful. In this one conversation — just like all the other 1:1 conversations at the GLF, I found tremendous value.
“Grow with Coaching and Grow with ICF”
Along our walk, Randy and I encountered our new friend Artur Michalski, ACC, president of ICF Poland.
Artur is spearheading a global initiative to inspire the International Coach Federation global community to plant one tree for every ICF member (27,000)! Artur accelerated this effort by coordinating with the hotel management and planted a tree in Charlotte on the hotel grounds.
Artur had to jump through a significant number of hoops to bring this effort to life and I’m glad he chose to do so. The planting of a tree is a symbol of growth and participating in the planting added a spiritual dimension to the GLF that was sorely needed. Many people look at trees with a spiritual reverence and view them as friends.
The slogan of Artur’s campaign is “Grow with coaching and grow with ICF!” I very much was deeply moved to bring this campaign back to the Ohio Valley and inspire the chapter to plant one tree for every professional ICF coach member in Kentucky, West Virginia, southern Ohio, and southern Indiana.
I’ve started exploring a program offered by the Arbor Day Foundation that plants one tree for every dollar donated at a forest in the United States.
Inspiration flowed throughout the forum. I was particularly touched by the creation of Nathalie Ducrot, MCC, president of ICF Switzerland. Nathalie invested a significant amount of her time and energy in creating a learning tool which is a deck of cards that incorporates each of the International Coach Federation core competencies.
The core competencies are the backbone of professional model and what I found genius about Nathalie’s creation is that it is tactile, easy to use, well designed, easily accessible, and a valuable learning tool.
I would like to get one of these decks into the hands of each member of ICF Ohio Valley at some point if I can figure out how to do so. This creation is a symbol of the shared learning that emerges when coaches are able to connect and share with one another.
Breaks in between gatherings were invaluable. I was able to meet up with some colleagues from around the world.
One secret tip I’ll share that I’ve done for many years whenever I attend a meeting is to sit at an empty table during a meal. It pushes me away from connecting with people I know and enables me to meet with whoever shows up. You’d be surprised at how valuable this one tip has been at helping me identify new friends and clients over the years.
As humans we have a tendency to gather with those we’re most comfortable with. It’s amazing who you meet, what you learn, and the connections made when you force yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Coaches Love to Dance!
One of the principles of many coaching models is to dance in the moment with our clients.
Dancing in the moment involves being present to whatever shows up and not bringing an agenda to a client. There is no more fitting way to observe this principle in action then on a dance floor at an ICF global forum with coaches from countries all over the globe coming together to exercise after a day filled with a lot of sitting!
Sparks of Growth
Ultimately the coming together of the leaders of the global coaching community is about sparking inspiration, sparking change, and sparking partnerships.
The world at large is going through tremendous social, economic, and political change.
Professional coaches are well positioned to play a critical role in helping move people, organizations, and communities forward: from one place to a better tomorrow.
Coaching is a noble profession as it is a catalyst for change. It was an honor representing ICF Ohio Valley at this forum.
A special thanks to Denise Stenzel, Magda Mook, and all of the people (ICF staff and Charlotte people) involved in making this forum a reality. It was a valuable investment of time.
Midwest Region Forum
The final day in Charlotte was dedicated for regional break-out forum to occur. There are seven ICF regions: Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), Latin America, North America Midwest, North America Northeast, North America Southeast, and North America West.
Ann Huttner, PCC, past president of ICF Ohio Valley is the president of the Midwest region and she organized an exceptional meeting for chapter leaders from the Midwest.
Ann brilliantly pulled the place — Charlotte, North Carolina — into this meeting and shared the story of how the first gold rush in American history took place in Charlotte. This was a beautiful and fitting narrative as the entire GLF and our time together was about mining golden nuggets of inspiration from all over the globe. Ann is a masterful facilitator and created and held an extremely powerful space for the Midwest leaders to connect and share on a human level. This was so helpful given the frenetic pace of the prior days of the GLF.
What’s often forgotten when meetings of this nature take place is that we are all human. We all have human needs, desires, and wants. We all have a spirit, soul, and heart that needs to be acknowledged and nourished. A special thanks to Ann for recognizing this need and addressing it with intentionality during our last remaining hours together in Charlotte.
If you have read this far, bravo! My hope is this post conveys a bit of my experience with the reader who was not able to participate. My promise as your chapter leader — with your help — is to transform the ideas and insights from the GLF to action in the Ohio Valley and advance the art and science of professional coaching for the humans, organizations, and communities we serve.
With all my best,
Chris Padgett, PCC
ICF Ohio Valley Charter Chapter