PCI Leadership Principles
by Gloria DeGaetano
Founder and CEO, The Parent Coaching Institute
Our leadership principles form the core foundation upon which we grow ourselves and our parent coaching practice.
Principle 1: Honor Paradox
Paradox doesn't make sense, but contains truth.
The Parent Coaching Institute invites coaches to live the following three paradoxes:
Take Extreme Personal Self-Care and Observe How Your
Professional Work Grows More Effective.
Putting yourself first may seem like heresy. Isn't an effective leader one who thinks of others first? No. To be truly effective, Love others as you love yourself. In today's modern world, we often forget the "as yourself" part of the equation.
- When was the last time you put yourself first? How did it feel?
- How do you react to someone who says you are "selfish?"
- What do you do daily to take care of yourself? Weekly? Monthly?
- What brings you exquisite joy? How often do you do it?
The Less We Identify with Our Roles, Our Jobs, Our Causes, the
More Effective We Are in Our Roles, Our Jobs, Our Causes.
We are not our roles, jobs, or causes. We are spirits having a human experience. By remembering who we really are; we can detach from outcomes, ego, and our very human need for recognition. We can move forward freely, inspired by the knowledge that we co-create with others and with God. Our accomplishments are really spiritual grace manifested.
- How do you get back to a sense of self, of center, when under stress?
- What do you pride yourself in?
- How have others helped you with your accomplishments?
- How do you maintain a balanced perspective? How do you share it?
Less is More; More is Less.
Pampering, opulence, and excess are par for the course in our consumer culture, giving the illusion that more is better. What means the most to us in any given moment may be the gift of a sun filled sky; an encouraging word; a chance to speak our truth. It's the simple, seemingly mundane parts of life which make life personally significant.
- When did something small turn out to be huge?
- When did something you so looked forward to end in disappointment?
- How do you stay focused on the simple gifts of life?
- How do you help yourself and others see to the heart of matters?
Principle 2: Respect Timeliness
Timeliness means we cooperate with life and the natural order.The Parent Coaching Institute invites coaches to respect timeliness in three important ways when working with parents and children:
Children's Stages of Development Must Be Honored and Respected
If Children Are To Develop Well.
In our culture the imperatives of childhood, especially early childhood, are being cast aside. Young brains, vulnerable emotions, and budding personalities are not provided the appropriate environments to develop optimally. We must change this. We must speak for the children because they can't speak for themselves.
- Do you act from your knowledge of child development and your gut instincts?
- How do you communicate to parents the vital necessity of timeliness for children?
- What happens for you when children are being pushed?
- In what ways do you find yourself needing to be a warrior for children?
Respect and Honor Each Individual's Journey.
In education and social work, much co-dependency exists. By "helping" others to "get out of their struggles and predicaments" we are actually setting ourselves up as superior; them as inferior; our experience as more valid than theirs.
No matter what is happening in a person's life, when it is respected for what it is and met with non-judgment, expansion manifests more clearly for that individual.
- What happened when you struggled to change someone from your own perspective?
- What happened when you told your truth to someone but let go of the outcome?
- How do you keep from judging yourself? Others?
- Where is the most aliveness for you when "helping" others?
Do Not Fear Uncertainty.
Not knowing is part of the natural cycle of life. Yet, there is always the tendency to think that someone with the answers has all the power. In truth, there is unique timing to the answers showing up. When we value the questions as equally as the certainties, we place our faith in our only authentic power—our spiritual awareness and understanding.
- When was the last time you told someone, "I don't know?" What happened?
- How do you get more comfortable with life's mysteries?
- When you feel uncertain, how hard are you on yourself?
- When you experience a question being resolved, what do you attribute it to?
Principle 3: Invite Challenge
We grow more intentionally when we willingly invite challenge.
The Parent Coaching Institute invites coaches to move beyond their areas of comfort and seek out challenge in three particular ways:
Observe What We Try to Avoid.
Inevitably what we strive to avoid, we draw to us as learning experiences. By becoming more conscious of what we dodge daily, we help ourselves move gently out of fear states into more competence and fulfillment.
- When was the last time you laughed out loud at being continually faced with something you worked very hard to avoid?
- How does avoidance support your self-image?
- Who would you be if you didn't run from perceived threat?
- How do friends, your spouse, your children, mirror to you what you would rather not see? How do you thank them for this gift?
Remember: Anything is Possible.
A wonderful mentor, the late Kateri Brow, taught me this. Kateri was my "boss" for nine years when I was a school district administrator. Bold, visionary, without any sense of fashion, but with tremendous talent, heart and smarts, Kateri lived this belief and in so doing she challenged herself and others to become the "impossible." She prompts me to ponder—now if I really believed anything is possible…how would I live my day today?
- If anything is possible, who can you become?
- What keeps you from believing in miracles?
- When you have seen exponential growth in yourself or a loved one, what happened?
- When the "impossible" shows up, what do you do?
Who are the people in our lives who challenge themselves? How does their challenging themselves, challenge us? Do they scare us or remind us of our potential? Often it is far easier to surround ourselves with people who keep us safe and comfortable. The more fulfilling path, albeit more difficult, is to search out people who rattle us, confront us, and shine spotlights on our weaknesses and defenses. What a way to grow!
- Who scares you the most? What can you learn from this person?
- How do you show honest friends and colleagues that you value them?
- Name five people in your life who "keep you on your toes."
- How do you honestly know when you are growing?
Principle 4: Live with Passion
Where our passion lies, there is our satisfaction.
The Parent Coaching Institute invites coaches to explore the intricate relationship between passion and leadership with these descriptions of a leader:
A Leader is a Person Going in a Certain Direction Who Has
Most leaders are moving forward in their lives, propelled by living and breathing their heart's desires. They feel passionately about something, so they attract others who feel the same way. They keep their attention forward and when they look back, others are following.
- How does your passion affect others?
- How are you affected by someone else's passion?
- What do you notice about your leadership abilities when you feel expanded?
- What do you notice about your leadership abilities when you feel contracted?
One of the Biggest Obstacles of Effective Leadership is
Trying to be the Leader.
When we try hard, we are in struggle and not very happy, usually. Our passion brings us joy and stokes the fires of will and determination. A true leader is as good a follower as s/he is a leader. When coming from a place of deep satisfaction inside oneself, the need to be seen as leading diminishes. Those who try never do.
- Recount a time when you weren't trying to lead and you found others following.
- Recount a time when you tried to be a leader in a group spiraling into chaos.
- How would you assess your leadership qualities?
- How would you assess your followership qualities?
Leaders are made, not born.
It is true that inborn personality traits can enhance one's charisma and therefore make that person appealing to others. But effective leaders are made through their life's journey, through pain, sweat, disappointment, hopelessness, and even at time severe depression. A leader is a person who has gone through the hero's journey and out the other side. And what kept him or her going through the fire of life's struggles and into transformation? His/her passion and satisfaction.
- What has helped you through a painful struggle?
- Looking back, can you see how your leadership skills transformed as a result of your struggle?
- How would you help someone discover his/her passion?
- How would you help someone discover his/her leadership abilities?
Principle 5: Use Conflict Impersonally
A leader knows that conflict can be a creative force, but when used personally, it is not conflict, but rather contention.
The Parent Coaching Institute invites its coaches to approach conflict with compassion for self and others, realizing these three standards of integrity:
A non-judgmental approach to conflict transforms it more quickly.
Did you ever chew on a conflict you had with someone and it was still very much inside of you even though the external conflict went away?
We all have these experiences, perhaps to learn how to release our judgments. Leaders are approachable people because of their acceptance of varying viewpoints and the implicit understandings that accompany openness. Plus a non-judgmental attitude just gets the job done faster; good leaders are practical!
- Recall a time when your release of judgment transformed a conflict.
- What do you still judge yourself about? Who helps you accept yourself as you are? What support do you need to release this judgment for good?
- If you ever worked with a leader who was judgmental, how did you experience yourself in that situation?
- Describe your relief or other feelings when you are able to say what you want in a conflict and know you won't be judged for it.
Leaders keep focus on the creative solution.
Effective leaders aren't afraid of conflict. They do not seek harmony at any cost. A true leader has the knack for holding the unfocused creative energy present in conflict and seeking clarity and cohesive effort towards a goal. Through insights, provocative questions, compelling ideas, passion for the goal, a great leader brings attention to the solution not yet in other's awareness. As we say today: Leaders naturally think out of the box, most of the time.
- When are you most likely to "think out of the box?" Least likely?
- What keeps you from moving to a creative solution in the midst of conflict?
- When are you most likely to move to a creative solution in the midst of conflict?
- How do you expand your creativity quotient?
Leaders have a peaceful understanding of
Leaders experience the world not as an either-or world, but as a both-and world.
- How has the either-or mentality trapped you? How did you get out of it?
- Recall a time when you accepted a broader viewpoint about something. How did it feel to you? To others involved?
- How would you define the compassionate use of polarities?
- How would you know you are using conflict impersonally?
Gloria DeGaetano, Founder and CEO of The Parent Coaching Institute, presents keynotes and workshops to parents, educators, corporations, and professional organizations. She may be contacted at (425) 449-8877. Her latest book is Parenting Well in a Media Age: Saving Our Children from the Corporate-Controlled Culture, Personhood Press, January, 2004.