University News

Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being Program Develops Change Agents

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Manager

Most leaders hope to achieve goals at work, but only those who know how to act as agents of positive change can actually accomplish those goals. Most teams try to work together well on the job, but only those who incorporate well-being into their lives can build relationships that lead to the best results. The Professional Certificate in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being program at our center empowers people to maximize success both personally and professionally.

“At Mason, we really come from a unique perspective with a deep concentration on strengths, purpose and resilience,” says Dr. Nance Lucas, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. “Developing those skills can lead to greater meaning, purpose, and transformation.”

Since the program teaches people how to fully incorporate well-being principles into their lives and workplaces, it has a distinctive power to bring about positive change, says Dr. Pamela Patterson, our center’s Senior Coaching Fellow and Associate Vice President of University Life at George Mason University. “The Mason program fully integrates individual and organizational well-being as instrumental in coaching. I’m so pleased with the caliber of coaches that are being cultivated in this program. Our students have remarkable stories of taking what they are learning in the classroom and applying that learning immediately in their lives and organizations. They are seeing and experiencing different results and positive impact.”

One of many students who have experienced positive change through participating in the program is John Willison, acting Executive Deputy Commanding General for U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM). “In the process of becoming a coach, I struggled with the concept that coaching is more about asking the right questions than about having the right answers,” he recalls. “Once I embraced this, however, it enabled me to coach more effectively, and gave me tools for facilitating two-way conversations. [Asking] good questions combined with active listening is harder than it sounds, and more effective than I thought. And using both of those in an overall context of polarity management has significantly improved my ability to lead others and to lead myself.”

The polarity management coaching skills that Willison learned in our coaching program proved beneficial in both his personal and professional lives, he says. “Both personally and professionally, my most significant take-away from the program was from the module on polarity management. So often as an executive, you are faced with resolving hard problems that could not be solved by others, and the options presented are either ‘this’ OR ‘that.’ And many times, the best approach is ‘AND’ not ‘OR’ – both as an executive and also personally. This is equally true with coaching. Recognizing such situations and having a framework to work through them has significantly enhanced my ability to manage both at work as well as managing myself.”

Becoming a coach is an especially powerful way to make change happen in today’s world, says Ellen Fulton, MCC, Director of Training for our coaching program. “Coaching is one of the most personalized and impactful tools for leading change available in the world today,” Fulton explains. “When I am coaching, I feel the most connected to my own higher purpose of supporting individuals, teams, or organizations in their journey to excellence. As a coach I know I am making a difference and empowering others to do the same. Being a part of George Mason’s Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being program offers me the opportunity to multiply this experience tenfold. The coaches who are graduating from our program leave equipped with embodied knowledge of the competencies needed to work with leaders making a difference in the world. Through the lens of strengths-based leadership, our graduates are supporting clients in their well-being and challenging them to create resilient teams and organizations.”

In rapidly changing workplaces where stress regularly occurs, coaching skills are essential and leaders are realizing that. Learning strong coaching skills that emphasize well-being is a vital part of every leader’s development, says Patterson, because those skills empower team members to become the best they can be while working together. “Acquiring coaching skills is increasingly being acknowledged as a core element of a leader’s competencies,” she says. “My experience is that leaders and organizations are also more fully realizing that well-being is core and foundational to both being a leader, and is also critically important to coaching.” Leaders who see themselves as coaches are at an advantage to get the best out of their people and teams by maximizing their potential and engaging them in different ways. As coaches, leaders learn how to ask great questions and listen for deeper meaning and understanding.

If you join one of the upcoming coaching program cohorts, what you learn there can go beyond what you expect, Willison says. “Come in with a clean pair of eyes and be open to all interactions, with both mentors and other cohort members,” he advises. “You will get out of it what you put into it. Don’t be afraid to challenge the experts, and more importantly to challenge yourself.”

Apply to join an upcoming coaching cohort.

Read coaching alumni testimonials.

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