The Daring Conversations model was created to improve the efficacy of coaching engagements, and keep coaches safe as they practice. The results of my coaching experiences has shown me that when my clients and I have the same view of the organisation’s social system, shift happens! Whilst this sounds simple, it’s far from simplistic, as many of you already know.
Every coach knows that questions are the tools of their trade, and these can be grouped and crafted into elegant use in client conversations. At this point, both coach and client can be sure that a shared perspective has been established. I have found that a cycle of four focussed conversations generates an awareness of the social system landscape that we’re trying to traverse. Even not knowing or being able to answer a question yields an insight which is of value.
In the diagram below, you’ll see the four conversations arranged into a framework that I call Daring Conversations.
Each conversation acts as a lens onto a specific aspect of the conversation, and by engaging with it, a detailed and shared view can emerge. By shared I mean between coach and client, if in an executive coaching context, or between coach and team members if in a team coaching context. In the latter case, there is enormous value to be had by team members hearing each other engage with the questions, even if no immediate answers emerge or can be agreed on. This will, and should, test the coach’s facilitation skills, and the cohesion of the team culture. Better to do this now than later when under the pressure of deadlines to deliver.
It’s important to note that the efficacy of Daring Conversations is entirely dependent upon the degree of psychological safety that can be created. It’s for this reason that the four conversations are bounded by the code of ethics and intention.
The engagement starts with an agreement between all parties as to the ethical standards that we’re going to share, as well as the intentions for the engagement. With these explicitly agreed, the outer frame is created, within which we can operate safely (both psychologically and commercially), and authentically.
If the frame is broken, stop, and renegotiate. Do not proceed unless it’s safe to do so. Remember, it’s daring, not reckless.
“Ethics is how we behave when we decide we belong together.”
Brother David Steindl-Rast
With expectations being managed, we can engage in the cycle of conversations that form the four lenses. The natural flow is diagnostic (understand the work), contracting (agree the work), coaching (support the work), and evaluating (assess the work). However, you could start wherever makes sense in your particular circumstances. The cycle can be iterated as many times as needed, and indeed, I’ve known cycles span from a matter of minutes to several months. This process should feel quite natural to most Agile coaches, who will be used to the iterative nature of their work. The value I’m hoping to add here is to illustrate how their existing talents can be repurposed to enhance their traction in tackling the challenges and supporting change in the social system.
I hope this is useful, and wish you every success (and safety) in your own Daring Conversations.