Coaching Matters

Leading With Heart With Yene Assegid

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With Coaching there are a plethora of  possibilities that you can create for yourself and for the other person when you are speaking the language of coaching. With the similar thought of how coaching can bring transformation in one’s life we at xMonks do a bi-monthly webinar, Coaching Matters. 

Last month we had Yene Assegid on the panel to talk in depth about who I am  becoming in this journey and how we can walk on this path of becoming a better human being.

Let’s read this edited version of the conversation that followed.

What Does It Mean to Lead With Heart?

As an eight year old, I was asking myself why am I even here? Why can I not be at home with my family, my cousins, my friends, my grandparents? What am I doing here exactly? And that reflection stayed with me for the rest of my life. And as I got older and, you know, through schools, through studying, through talking to different people, what I understood is that it’s really all about leadership.

It’s about how we lead our lives, how we lead our families, our communities, our companies, our nations. This is really what defines humanity. Right? And Gaurav, if you remember, I had a conversation in one of our conversations, what struck me of what you said was you said humanity is the centre point and leadership really is all about humanity.

And coaching is all about humanity and leadership, because it’s about enabling those around us, be it their clients or people that just have a coaching conversation with us to understand what are their options.

I talked to Madam Josephine Quedraogo, who was one of the key people in the government of President Sankara of Burkina Faso who was then sadly assassinated at a very young age of 37. And when he was assassinated, his whole cabinet was assassinated at the same time because they came at a meeting time.

 She’s the only one that survived because she wasn’t there. I had a chance to talk to her. And this lady holds with her wisdom that has infused the way I think the way I work in coaching and leadership training in every way.

In coaching, we talk about relationships. Relationship with our clients, um, supporting them to understand the relationships in their lives for the differences and the choices that we make.

What Are The Key Leadership Behaviours?

These leaders[I interviewed] came up with many things, but from all the things they came up with, there were five common denominators that they all, all all set. So the first thing to be kind, be kind, right. And I saw that the strongest leaders, they put people first. They show respect for all. They care for others. But this is what we do as coaches.

Right. We care, we show respect, we put our client first. Right. And when you look at, when I did some, just to look at recent, recent literature, and when we go to corporate clients, you know what? 45%, only 45% feel in the US that their employers care about them. So what kind of workforce does that create?

If you feel like you’re not being cared for? What’s the motivation of being in that job after a certain while? Maybe the financial remuneration is not enough anymore. You want to have a place where you could draw meaning and kindness plays a big role. So as coaches, how can we coach in a way that even for ourselves, that we are kind with ourselves and we are kind with our clients and being kind doesn’t mean spoiling them.

It just means to be kind in a very sober way, to come from the heart, to come from a place of empowerment. So it means that if I come from a kind place, I can also challenge you in a kind place, because that challenge I pose is aimed at uncovering your potential, right? I’m not enabling less than best if there’s such a word, but if I want to enable greatness in you as a coach, I can remain cautiously kind and still articulate my questions in a way that my client can listen without being, you know, without being, having to step back and still take that question in the way that it was intended. Right. So the first is to be kind. The second is to listen and as coaches, we know that’s what we do. It’s part of our work. We listen. Right.

But so we’re listening to is that … we listen with an empty mind. We listen with nothing on the slate. We listen to understand. And it’s not just even in coaching, but in life in general, how often do we hear something but we didn’t really listen? We heard what we wanted to hear. And this is also true for reading.

Sometimes you get an email here and there and we didn’t even read it because we weren’t paying attention. We just skimmed over it. And then we took another message and then we reacted in some way. But pause. Listen. What is the message that is really coming? And when we work with our clients, you know, how can we deepen our listening capacity as coaches?

So we take away all the distractions that are around us. And that happens when we also listen to ourselves. Where am I? How am I feeling? Am I good? Is there anything I need to resolve before I go into my coaching session? Yeah. So, the first one was to be kind. The second one is to listen. And the third one is to take time to reflect. 

Pause. Pause along the day, because it’s the only way to maintain clarity.

So in leadership as well as it is in coaching, the time to pause before I take on my clients, after I take on my clients, before I communicate that I’m pausing even in the conversation that I weave in a few breaths of pausing, like just take a breath or two. Pause.

As coaches, as professionals, as parents, you know, as community members, we can also do that.

The Possibilities Of Leading With Heart

As coaches, as professionals, as parents, you know, as community members, we can also do that. Right. 

So when we do this, what are the possibilities? The possibility of authenticity, the possibility of trust and the possibility of confidence, which is different from arrogance. And confidence when you’re grounded, when you’re really grounded, it actually inspires others. It brings people along. It’s very different from arrogance. It’s just to say, I know what I know. I’m aware of my strong points. I’m also aware of my weaknesses and I’m work in progress. So as everybody else is also. And this gives permission to others to grow with us.

Right. So, and maybe on trust, the word here that I want to say is it’s easy to trust others. I think it’s easier. Sometimes we might not trust ourselves as much. We might be very critical of ourselves. But as to say, if you’re doing your best, let it be. Like I said, we’re work in progress. So sometimes we might make mistakes. Sometimes we might do it right.

Whatever it is, it’s a learning process for us to grow. Right. So just some thoughts to remember about leadership that it’s really competence laced with humility. And this is also true for coaching. As we are coaches, we are lifelong learners. We learn all the time and we have to learn all the time.

We learn about ourselves, about others. We learn about models. We learn about the world that we’re actually open to. This brings in the groundedness, the humility. And at the same time, it builds our competence. Also as coaches, it’s our role to support our clients, to own their choices, to help them understand, you know, whatever it is that they’re doing and make intentional choices. Whatever it is that they choose, that it’s intentional, um, that we take responsibility to create meaning in our lives.

And as coaches that we use our, how do you say, our craft to support others, to draw meaning from their lives to create the kind of bold and courageous life that would bring them meaning. Resting is important. This is true not just for other people, but also especially for coaches, because we might not rest.

If you have clients all over the world and you have different time zones, do we really resist answering an email in the middle of the night? Because I heard it come and I look at it. Well, we have to rest. We have to rest. It’s not optional. And when there’s challenges and breakdowns, we can always rise up.

So in a nutshell, it’s a competence list in humility that we’re there to create meaning in our lives and the lives of others. 

Find more valuable webinars for free Coaching Matters. Register for the next session here.

About The Speaker: Yene Assegid

Dr. Yene Assegid, PhD, ICF/MCC, is a seasoned Transformational Leadership practitioner, Yene has been working as a professional leadership coach and trainer since the mid-nineties. She brings an extensive proficiency in corporate talent development. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and holds the level of a Master Certified Coach, MCC. Being at the MCC level ranks her as the top 5% of all coaches worldwide.   

She specialises in leadership development, emotional intelligence, diversity and inclusion, organisational transformation, and change management, Yene has a gift for working with a wide range of contexts. She is known for her capacity to hold space for senior management teams to have delicate and necessary conversations and achieve breakthroughs for the overall organisational wellbeing. Her ability to genuinely relate to people creates a safe environment, enabling sustainable transformation and effective learning at all levels of management, especially in times of crisis.  She has a natural understanding of the global mind-set, including cross-cultural dynamics in leadership development, navigating change and team building, in an increasingly diverse and ever more uncertain and unpredictable environment.  In the world of coaching, peers often refer to Yene an alchemist for her ability to source deep transformation in individuals and organisations she coaches. 

Yene provides leadership capacity building, in the greater sense, for organisations in the private and public sector, international NGOs, Trade Union Federations (+15 countries), European Union and UN agencies especially UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF.

Born in Ethiopia, Yene was educated in Europe in the French educational system and completed all her university studies in the United States. She earned her MBA from the University of Maryland and her PhD from the California Institute of Integral Studies, with dissertation research on Transformational Leadership and Human System.

In 2018, Yene was featured in the “200 Women” book for her work in leadership development worldwide. She is a motivational speaker and a published author with five books and numerous articles. Her latest books published in 2021 are Leading With Heart and Rebellious and Resilient.

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