Creating powerful synergies through a global alliance
Case Study : Versus Systems and Centre for Coaching
Please would you present Centre for Coaching?
Janine Ahlers, Director of Centre for Coaching Global: Established in 2002, the Centre for Coaching was founded at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (a world top-100 executive graduate school), and has grown into a global premier executive coaching organisation with Centres now in Switzerland and Australia, in addition to linking to over 25 years of cutting-edge coaching course development through its alliance with New Ventures West in San Francisco.
Janine Ahlers, Director Centre for Coaching Global
Daniel Ahlers, Director Centre for Caoching Europe
What is your approach to developing your activities?
J.A.: One of our secrets of success is our approach to selecting strategic partnerships, as we realised that in order to have credibility we needed to carefully select those we partner with. That led us to select New Ventures West, one of the oldest and most credible American coach training schools as the source of our theoretical approach. Our public programmes are all run under the auspices of NVW and they are all accredited with the International Coach Federation, the largest coach accreditation body in the world. We also realised that many people in Africa don’t know or care that much about American brand names, and coaching was a totally new concept to South Africa back in 2001. And so the Centre for Coaching approached the Graduate School of Business and formed a vibrant and successful partnership with them over the last 16 years.
We continually seek to expand our activities and our reach with a combination of partnerships and networking. Our partnership with Versus, for example, has been extraordinarily useful, as their approach and their reports have allowed us to offer new types of leadership development programmes to our existing and new clients. We are also training our many Associate Coaches, in both Africa and Europe, in the usage of this tool and we anticipate that more and more coaches will start to use this report as a support and catalyst to their coaching processes.
Our primary means of deploying our activities is through referrals from past clients, word of mouth, and also through people attending our public programmes and then asking us to come and design an intervention for them using the same or similar philosophy.
What has encouraged you to set up your activities in Europe, based in the Lake Geneva region?
Daniel Ahlers, Director of The Centre for Coaching Europe: The local Swiss market is a context where an amalgam of international federations and organisations are based. This has significant possibilities for Integral Coaching. Its connection to the wider European market in French and German speaking contexts in particular, creates a strategic node in the language transmission of this work.
In addition, the unique contribution that we bring to the European market stems from the combination of the multicultural context of South Africa, with the academic rigour required by the Graduate School of Business, as well as the grounding in Integral methodology through our learning partners, NVW. Following the feedback and testimonials from participants in the courses we have run here in Switzerland, our approach not only meets, but exceeds expectations, confirming we made the right decision.
What is your core business and who are your target customers?
D.A.: Our core business falls into two broad categories:
our educational work – teaching people how to coach others – and
our commercial work – finding innovative, custom-designed ways aligned with our integral philosophy in which to develop leaders within organisations, support cultures, enable change, encourage innovation and generate business success.
Our target customers are primarily blue-chip corporates, in particular multinationals. We have over the past 16 years successfully taken our work onto 6 different continents and covered a multitude of industries including the FMCG sector, financial services, mining, petroleum, educational institutions, the health/medical world, and not-for-profit sectors. We find that our clients appreciate the fact that we have a deep understanding of what it means to operate and work in emergent economies as well as in the more stable developed world.
What has been your experience in the use of assessment / profiling tools in Coaching?
J.A.: Our experience centres around the use of the Enneagram and PersProfile. Both profiles have merits and there isn’t space to unpack the pros and cons of using the Enneagram, which is a deep, rich and powerful tool, well suited to using when one is on a deep, lengthy journey with a coachee.
We find PersProfile valuable because it focusses on behaviours in a particular context (usually the work environment), and can help people to understand which behaviour patterns they are adopting and which they are avoiding. This helps one build awareness and deepen coaching.
Why have you chosen to work with PersProfile Manager of Versus Systems?
D.A.: PersProfile provides a view of behaviour that often gives a clear picture of the interpersonal relationship challenges you’re going to have, and gives both the coach and coachee something concrete to work with, so the coachee can clearly say this behaviour isn’t working for me – and then we can work with this to shift behaviours.
e.g. if my coachee has assertive behaviour and can see the impact it has on others (which the report will show) they are then open to changing it. When one uses an assessment tool that places somebody in a box, then they can use this as an excuse to say ‘well I’m like this, it’s my personality’ and not be so open to changing it.
What is often misunderstood and not explained well in other tools is that there are various instincts at play. But every instinct has behaviour associated with it. PersProfile allows us to avoid the challenge of trying to work on the instinctual level – which is very deep and very difficult – by allowing us to see which instinct is driving which behaviours.
PersProfile also opens up the opportunity to give very constructive feedback at work. It helps people to understand interpersonal conflict and how to relate to different socio-types, as well as the level of awareness of their impact, and how effective their behaviour is towards their tasks.
The mixture of Jung and Marsden allows one to interpret a person’s decision-making style, and you can ask rich questions around assumptions and limiting beliefs. We encourage our associate coaches not to just treat it as a report, but as a coaching dialogue between the coach and coachee, i.e. something to enrich the conversation.
PersProfile allows us to work within our integral framework – we work with behavioural patterns and the language that goes with this, and so does PersProfile. Our experience with many other assessments is that one has a label, but then so what? With PersProfile one always has a mixture, a blend. One is not put into a box. It is thus a very good tool to help individuals and teams develop and become more coherent and successful.
What have your learnings been so far?
J.A.: Our learnings so far have been that it helps to improve relationships, creates a constructive platform to give feedback, it shows how to make more effective requests so those we interact with understand in “their language” – one can understand how to use the language of the ‘other’ not just your own.
It creates a deeper understanding of each other – people thus have lower prejudices and biases against one another.
We have used it extensively with one-on-one coaching very successfully to shift behavioural patterns.
With members of a team, one can talk about triggers and ‘pinch points’ which helps team members explore this in an interactive way, which has led to great insights as to what makes one person irritate another, and how to create better understanding between team-members.
Interestingly enough, we haven’t had a client yet who could not identify with their profile.
Could you give us some examples of companies you are working with where you have used PersProfile Manager?
J.A.: In the Africa Middle-East region:
Chevron and South32 (a mining company) as a tracking mechanism to show change in behaviour as a result of coaching in a Leadership Development Programme.
University of Cape Town (UCT) – we worked with very senior academics, who all found it of high value.
Medical research council of South Africa – we started with the Enneagram, then about 9 months later used PersProfile, which had a dramatically different impact.
… and in Europe?
D.A: We are working with a number of large multinationals based in Switzerland, on strategic projects where we are using PersProfile. The feedback thus far has been very positive, however given the strategic nature of our interventions, we are not at liberty to share the names of the organisations.
In conclusion, our partnership with Versus Systems has been extraordinarily beneficial to both parties, allowing us to strengthen our respective activities and confirming the relevance of our approach to selecting strategic partnerships.
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