The Power of Expanding Human Potential

June 25, 2024 | 290 Views

The Power of Expanding Human Potential

Christy Uffelman, MHCS, BCC

Founder and CEO | Edge Leadership

One of the biggest asks of external coaches like me, as well as folks in L&D, and quite frankly even people leaders inside companies, is that we help others to "maximize their potential."

But what is it exactly they are asking us to do? Well, in many cases, it's helping individuals unveil their very best—their talents, abilities, and skills—so they can do more in less time, all while achieving better results.

And yet, when it comes to maximizing potential, there's a paradox. On one hand, it's natural for people to feel the need to prove credibility and competence in the workplace, to look as though they know what they're doing and deserve to be there. And yet, if you have been leading and developing people for any length of time, you've likely encountered many who mistakenly think vulnerability demonstrates weakness or exposes inadequacy (maybe you, like me, were even raised to believe this). But as I learned during my personal mentorship with Dr. Brené Brown in 2018, there exists a true need for a Brave Space in leadership development in our post-pandemic world- a place for people to practice the kind of vulnerability that fosters genuine growth and improvement.

I have a question for you: whether you coach corporate leaders 1:1 in-house, as an internal coach or trainer within an organization or as a people leader with your team, can your development framework routinely help people foster real growth in a way that is not dependent on you?

Don't get me wrong. We all know that there is a valid and important place for traditional training methods to disseminate knowledge. But as I learned in my career in L&D, and later as the head of HR, if all your people-driven development strategies depend on you being present, you can only be in so many places at once. There are only so many time slots on your calendar. And you can only share what is in your knowledge bank.

But what if you could add to your training repertoire the ability to develop many people all at once - by empowering them to mentor and coach one another and themselves? Interested? I hope so, because that is only the beginning of the benefits of this revolution in PEER Group Coaching that I am excited to share as a Keynote at the 2024 CHART Hospitality Training Conference: Perspectives From Your Peers: A Dynamic PEER Coaching Experience on August 12 @ 8:15am!

I had the honor of working with a senior manager in the transportation industry named Jason Tempalski. He was a member of one of my EDGE Leadership PEER group coaching experiences who had the dream of becoming a more impactful leader and moving to the Director level at his Fortune 50 company. To this day, nearly a decade later, Jason would tell you that his EDGE experience was groundbreaking for him. When I started talking about vulnerability at his 8-month cohort launch session, he told me he was ready to either curl up in a ball or just walk out! But what he soon came to realize was the incredible power of vulnerability and its impact on his leadership abilities.

In 2021, Jason reached out to me to share that he had received that desired promotion to Managing Director and was intent on taking what he had learned around the power of PEER Mentoring to ignite his entire department. With my book, The PEER Revolution: Group Coaching That Ignites the Power of People, in hand, he was ready to revolutionize his teams' sense of agency over their careers and create space for peer-peer mentoring and coaching. And guess what? He did exactly that!

Leveraging the How-To methods in the book, Jason focused on his team of ten people leaders to bring their PEER Mentoring and Coaching Circle to life in 2022. While there was certainly some resistance and push-back, especially around leaning into vulnerability from several of the men on his team, Jason persisted – especially because he himself recalled that same resistance at the start of his journey.

Before creating the space for peer-peer learning, Jason's team members would come to him - as the manager - asking for solutions to their problems. Now, they have a sustainable vehicle for knowledge transfer to reach out to one another to ask for best practices and lessons learned. They have built a strong foundation of trust and collaboration, underpinned by vulnerability, which opened up new ways of collaboration, innovation, and an authentic sense of connection to one another. He shared with me just recently that even team members who onboarded after the peer-peer group coaching circle was created felt the power of its impact.

And I see this all the time in our work here at EDGE Leadership Solutions – the real experts aren't those of us as trainers, or even as external coaches and consultants. The real experts are the leaders inside our companies, living and breathing this work, daily. What our people lack is a vehicle for organizational knowledge transfer. In my 20 years as a coach, I have seen over and over – humans want to contribute to each other's successes… they just don't know how!

As I began writing my 4th book this spring, I interviewed Jason to see how his PEER Mentoring and Coaching Circle has evolved in the last 2 years. The biggest takeaway he shared with me is the overall enhanced engagement on his remote team; especially during multiple rounds of layoffs that the company experienced since 2022. Jason shared:

"Everyone from our customers to other department leaders and regional managers has noticed the change. We have "gelled" together in a way we never had before we implemented the strategy in The PEER Revolution. Our metrics are in the green; people are leaning into vulnerability and asking one another for help, practicing empathy and picking up on things they wouldn't usually notice. In fact, their genuine relationships and dynamic support of one another allowed us to run lean during a time where we couldn't have backfilled positions anyway!"

All of this, he firmly believes, is due to the sense of authentic connection as peers that was built during their team mentoring and coaching sessions. Jason also proudly shared with me how powerful their communication has become, with tough conversations taking place because his team has become so open and approachable - seeing one another as humans - bringing challenges to one another that are not only professional in nature, but personal too. And through that, empathy and engagement have increased exponentially. "Their ability to give and receive feedback has taken them to a whole new level," Jason said, and I quote because I love his words so much, "The vulnerability created by this experience has gelled us as a world-class team."

In our hybrid, post-pandemic world, we know as trainers exactly how critical it is to bring people together across diverse life experiences, viewpoints, and geography. More than ever, as many leaders lead remote teams, and we, as coaches and trainers – develop those leaders - we have to be able to connect people in ways never possible before.

Come experience this revolution for yourself at the 2024 CHART Hospitality Training Conference this summer in Chicago at my keynote: Perspectives From Your Peers: A Dynamic PEER Mentoring Experience, as we launch this powerful conference – together!  You are invited to connect in an authentic way with your peers, across companies, as we engage in an inspiring and interactive group coaching experience to learn practical tips on how to maximize your own career and ignite those around you.

During this keynote session, I will be facilitating a PEER Mentoring experience with all attendees as we dive into vulnerability together and best practice sharing – across all of CHART's member companies! Together we will co-create a container for experiential learning and test-drive the peer-peer learning model that Jason deployed on his operations team.

Your hands-on experience in this proven process will have you walking away with at least 20 genuine connections with your peers across the nation – and gaining accountability partners to support you as you take the steps that matter most to tackle your current personal and professional challenges. And the entire transformative sharing session will be co-created by YOU - in the moment. You (and your peers!) will choose what you want to learn, based on your desired outcomes, and then intentionally share best practices and lessons learned with each other. The powerful result is connection, belonging, engagement – and actionable solutions that you can go home and immediately apply.

And, finally, a gentle reminder, my new friends, that we are WHOLE people – meaning the challenges at work impact us at home, and what is keeping you up at night on the personal front, undoubtedly impacts your work results.

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