DON’T CALL ME HAPPY

Positivity Institute founder Suzy Green explains why positive psychology is all about enhancing resilience, achievement and wellbeing – but not about happiness. And why coaching is essential in helping build and sustain this approach to positive emotions She jokes that although her main strength is vitality/zest, and she thinks of herself as a positive person, […]

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Academic, active researcher, chartered occupational psychologist, coach and coaching supervisor, Tatiana Bachkirova has a packed professional life. Yet, 20 years ago she arrived in the UK, a shy teacher with very little English. She tells Liz Hall how she finally found her voice

Tatiana Bachkirova is one of the foremost academics and researchers in the coaching profession, unafraid to speak up for what she believes and to challenge where she feels challenge is due. But she hasn’t always been so outspoken.

Before she had cancer, for which she was given the all clear last autumn, her shyness had held her back:

“I am officially a cancer survivor. It was a milestone. Strangely enough, before it I was shy and nervous and hesitant about speaking out and speaking up and being out there, but after that, I lost the fears and thought it’s OK to say what is important for me. The nature of coaching is that you take the hard things and make them into something that could be helpful.”

Bachkirova, Reader in Coaching Psychology at Oxford Brookes University, in the UK, teaching and supervising on its MA and Doctoral programmes in Coaching and Mentoring, believes that the willingness to critique is inherent in the role of the academic.

GETTING BETTER

US executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, one of the world’s most influential management thinkers and pioneer of 360-degree feedback, tells Liz Hall how he helps successful leaders achieve positive behaviour changes, and why he gives away most of his advice American leadership thinker Marshall Goldsmith is one of the world’s best-known, most influential and also best-paid […]

CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS

Liz Hall talks to mentoring expert, Bob Garvey, professor of business education at York St John Business School, former school teacher and full-time dad, and 2014 winner of the Coaching at Work ‘Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award’
When I interviewed Bob Garvey in September, he was “still floating” after being awarded the Coaching at Work ‘Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award’ in July (vol 9, issue 5, p16).

Listening to the judges’ comments at the awards ceremony, he “couldn’t believe it was about me”.

Fittingly, there were comments about his humility, as well as his impressive contributions to the world of mentoring – and coaching. It’s true that Garvey quietly goes about his business. But the professor of business education at York St John Business School is certainly not afraid to speak out and to rattle cages, nor is he one to follow the crowd.

This much was apparent early on in his working life. He started out as the only male early years teacher in London at that time, at a school in East Acton, then a highly deprived area.

“I saw my job as socialising these kids, who were very feral, running wild.” Even back then, he encouraged enquiry.

“When kids came running in saying, ‘Look what I’ve found, what is it?’ the teacher would say, ‘It’s a conker, put it down over there.’ Whereas I’d say, ‘Where did you find it; what colour is it; what do you think we should do with it?’ to start them investigating and enquiring.”

“What’s the point of saying, ‘It’s a conker, dear’, because that’s the end of the story. So we explored principles of science, like being able to ask questions and observe well. Naming is at the end of the line.”

Right on time

Right on time

Diana Hogbin-Mills is instilling a coaching culture at Network Rail that is collaborative, challenging, accountable and customer-driven. Her aim is to have everyone capable of being coach-like; her goal to make the railway operator safer and more inclusive

Changing the culture in an organisation as large as Network Rail, which employs 34,000, is no mean feat. But it is one Diana Hogbin-Mills is helping to achieve.

The head of talent and executive development, who joined in February 2012, is playing a key role in bringing about a gradual shift from the traditional male-dominated, more directive culture, to one in which employees are becoming ‘coach-like’.

Of course, whenever the organisation gets it wrong, the press is quick to pounce. It was recently splashed across the headlines after being fined for failing to meet punctuality targets. But it has shown itself willing to address its mistakes.

Network Rail also hit the headlines in July when the Transport Salaried Staffs Association launched an equal pay claim, the largest in its history. The claim involves 30 women, but could cover 3,000 if the case is won, according to the union.

Whatever the outcome, Hogbin-Mills stresses that diversity is higher than ever on the agenda, and that now is a really good time for women to join the organisation, especially those interested in engineering and technology.

She acknowledges that Network Rail may not immediately come to mind when thinking about companies contributing to the UK’s economy.

Profile: Dr Ilona Boniwell

HAPPINESS IS…
Liz Hall talks to Positive Psychologist Dr Ilona Boniwell, founder of the first masters
in Positive Psychology in Europe and of the European Network of Positive Psychology, author, teacher, director, speaker and parent of five children. Not surprisingly, she feels well-qualified to discuss work/life balance. She stresses its importance and the role of coaching in helping others understand their choices

It’s refreshing interviewing Dr Ilona Boniwell. Funny, bright and warm, she’s happy to share that despite being a world-renowned expert on resilience and Positive Psychology (PP), she hasn’t got it all sorted.
I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved. I’ll opt for relieved, considering that optimism is rated so highly in the PP movement.
When we did the interview, Ilona was emerging from weeks of burning the midnight oil, completing validation paperwork for her latest brainchild, the International MSc in Applied Pos Psych (I-MAPP), which she launches in Paris and Cambridge this autumn. Uniquely, the programme offers students the choice of 12 modules, including coaching, and education.
Ilona already teaches at the École Centrale, Paris, including a module on Positive Leadership and on the Masters in Transformation and Innovation.
In addition, she lectures and speaks on PP and resilience widely, writes and edits books, does media work, including writing a monthly column for Psychologies magazine on modern family life and consults as a director of consultancy Positran, including advising the Bhutanese government. All this, and she is raising five children, four of whom are teenagers, aged 14,15, 16 and 17. The latter means her weekends are not always restful.
“I do feel myself quite qualified to discuss work/life balance! Three of the teenagers are boys, and you have to deal with multiple issues frequently at the weekend, yet still perform once you’re back at work. On Monday morning, I have to teach PP.”

Profile: Eric De Haan

Sense maker Erik De Haan’s ability to work with the organisational unconscious and surface hidden levels in groups has been called ‘magical’. The director of Ashridge Business School’s Centre for Coaching talks to Liz Hall about the ‘dark side’ of leadership. Magical is how one corporate client described Erik De Haan’s ability to work with […]