June 25, 2012

How the Solution-Focusedness of Coaches Is Related To Their Thriving at Work

How the Solution-Focusedness of Coaches Is Related To Their Thriving at Work
While more evidence is now emerging on the effectiveness of the solutionfocused approach to help clients, little is known about how working in a solutionfocused way is related to practitioner thriving at work. A web-survey was administered to 258 coaches. The survey asked respondents about what they do in coaching sessions, what they believe about issues like people, change and helping, and how they view their work. The solution-focused approach was not mentioned in the survey, nor was any other approach. Through two separate prestudies, however, it was possible to use the independent variables to compute scores for solution-focused coach behaviors (SF Behavior), non-solution-focused coach behaviors (Non-SF Behavior), and agreement with solution assumptions (SF Mindset). Thriving at Work was calculated from three sets of dependent variables which were derived respectively from self-determination theory, the burnout literature, and the work engagement literature. SF Behavior and SF Mindset were positively correlated with each other and with Thriving at Work. These findings suggest that that working in a solution-focused way not only benefits clients but also practitioners. These findings may be useful for improving practitioner thriving and for developing strategies for reducing burnout, employee turnover, and sick leave. Read full article.

June 23, 2012

What is your favorite quote on PROGRESS?

Focusing on progress is one of the things which is at the core of my approach to coaching, training and management. Here are 5 quotes about progress that I find inspiring:
  1. "Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." ~ Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) 
  2. "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
  3. "Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress." ~ Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947)
  4. Progress, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step.” ~ Samuel Smiles (1812-1904)
  5. "All progress is experimental." ~ John Jay Chapman (1862-1933)
Do you have a favorite quote about progress too? Let me know.

June 21, 2012

Case: the trust is gone

Some time ago I was invited to facilitate a session with the management team of a consultancy firm. This constultancy was founded several years ago by five young consultants and had now grown to a few dozen employees. I received a phone call by the chairman of the management team who told me that a conflict had emerged in the management team. He told me that the trust between the individual members of the management was gone and that they would like to try to solve this problem with my help.

At first, the idea was to start off with one-day session and to plan later sessions after that. I suggested to shorten this first session to half a day. Eventually it turned out that no further sessions were needed because the management felt they could continue the process by themselves.

June 19, 2012

Do your work, then step back

Chase after money and security
And your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
And you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

 ~Lao Tzu (604-507 B.C.)

There is nothing inevitable about high crime rates

As I said in this post, high crime is a badly underestimated problem which does more damage than most people realize. There is not only direct damage but also hidden material and immaterial costs and the problem that crime is itself criminogenic, in other words crime leads to crime (having been confronted with crime increases your likelihood of becoming criminal).

Two sets of beliefs may stand in the way of bringing down high crime rates: 1) the belief that high crime is an inevitable by-product of modern societies, and 2) that drastic, large scale change is needed before crime can be brought down. The belief that high crime rates are inevitable in our societies prevents us from even attempting to bring down crime rates. 

June 18, 2012

A 3x2 Achievement Goal Model

A 3 x 2 Achievement Goal Model

By Andrew J. Elliot, Kou Murayama, and Reinhard Pekrun (2011) 

Abstract: In the present research, a 3x2 model of achievement goals is proposed and tested (see right). The model is rooted in the definition and valence components of competence, and encompasses 6 goal constructs: taskapproach, task-avoidance, self-approach, self-avoidance, other-approach, and other-avoidance. The results from 2 studies provided strong support for the proposed model, most notably the need to separate task-based and self-based goals. Studies 1 and 2 yielded data establishing the 3x2 structure of achievement goals, and Study 2 documented the antecedents and consequences of each of the goals in the 3x2 model. Terminological, conceptual, and applied issues pertaining to the 3x2 model are discussed. Read full article here.

June 16, 2012

Future thought and behaviour change

Future thought and behaviour change

By Gabriele Oettingen (2012)

Abstract: While there is a growing body of research on free thoughts such as fantasies and daydreams, the question of whether and how fantasies lead to effortful action and successful performance has hardly been investigated. The present article will show that, counter to what the popular self-help literature proposes, positive thinking can be detrimental to effort and success if it comes in the form of fantasies (free thoughts and images about the desired future) rather than beliefs (expectations). The article will then discuss fantasy realisation theory (FRT), which specifies how fantasies can be used to wisely self-regulate goal pursuit. The theory argues that the strategy of mental contrasting future and reality will produce both active goal pursuit and active goal disengagement, depending on a person’s high versus low expectations of success, respectively. Research supporting these ideas across life domains points to non-conscious cognitive and motivational processes responsible for the effects of mental contrasting, and it depicts context variables (e.g., sad mood) that influence the rise and usage of mental contrasting. Intervention studies attest to mental contrasting as a contentfree, time- and cost-effective metacognitive strategy that people can use to regulate their own goal pursuits in an autonomous way, thus helping people to become masters of their everyday life and long-term development. Read full article

June 14, 2012

Mindsets Matter: A Meta-Analytic Review of Implicit Theories and Self-Regulation

Mindsets Matter: A Meta-Analytic Review of Implicit Theories and Self-Regulation

By Jeni L. Burnette, Ernest O‘Boyle, Eric M. VanEpps, Jeffrey M. Pollack, & Eli J. Finkel (in press)

Abstract: This review builds on self-control theory (Carver & Scheier, 1998) to develop a theoretical framework for investigating associations of implicit theories with self-regulation. This framework conceptualizes self-regulation in terms of three crucial processes: goal setting, goal operating and goal monitoring. In this meta-analysis, we included articles that reported a quantifiable assessment of implicit theories and at least one self-regulatory process or outcome. Using a random effects approach, meta-analytic results (total unique N = 28,217; k = 113) across diverse achievement domains (68% academic) and populations (age range = 5-42; 10 different nationalities; 58% from United States; 44% female) demonstrated that implicit theories predict distinct self-regulatory processes, which, in turn, predict goal achievement. Incremental theories, which, in contrast to entity theories, are characterized by the belief that human attributes are malleable rather than fixed, significantly predicted goal setting (performance goals, r = -.151; learning goals, r = .187), goal operating (helpless-oriented strategies, r = -.238; mastery-oriented strategies, r = .227), and goal monitoring (negative emotions, r = -.233; expectations, r = .157). The effects for goal setting and goal operating were stronger in the presence (vs. absence) of ego threats such as failure feedback. Discussion emphasizes how the present theoretical analysis merges an implicit theory perspective with self-control theory to advance scholarship and unlock major new directions for basic and applied research. Read full article.

June 13, 2012

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young: The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

I've written before about Barbara Arrowsmith-Young. As a child, she suffered from asymmetry in her brain which meant that she had both exceptional abilities (like her auditory and visual memory and a great drive) and signs of retardation and an asymmetric body. At first, she followed a strategy of working around her disabilities. Later, she started to started to a program of exercises for herself which were not aimed at working around her weaknesses (the so-called compensation strategy) but which were directly aimed at strengthening her weaknesses. This strategy worked extremely well. She changed her brain and started to understand things she couldn't understand at first.

Now there is book by her: The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation. Here is the description from amazon.com:

June 8, 2012

Happiness and labor

"Happiness to be felt cannot be continued. Labour is necessary to make intervals between his pleasures."

~ Paul Henri Thiry Holbach in The System of Nature (1770)

This quote by Baron D'Holbach dates from 1770 yet it reflects, I think, a quite modern view on happiness. The first part of the quote, "Happiness to be felt cannot be continued", reminds me of something which is known as sensory adaptation which means that our nervous system changes its responsiveness to a constant stimulus over time. For example when your neighbor is working on his house and making drilling noises all day, at first you may notice this very clearly, but after some time you may not notice it so much anymore. At the end of the day you may even suddenly realize that you have not thought about the noise all afternoon and have not consciously noticed it at all. The same might apply to happiness. It seems impossible to keep feeling it all the time. What context would be such that it would allow us to constantly feel happy? It is hard to think of one. It is more likely that we are capable of experiencing episodes of happiness at best.

June 6, 2012

Leadership and fulfillment of the three basic psychological needs at work

Leadership and fulfillment of the three basic psychological needs at work
By Hilde Hetland, Jørn Hetland, Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Stale Pallesen & Guy Notelaers (2011)

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between transformational leadership and a transactional leadership component (management by exception-active), and fulfillment of the basic needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness. The paper is based on cross sectional data from 661 employees who completed validated questionnaires such as the the multifactor leadership questionnaire (MLQ) and the basic need satisfaction at work (BNSW). The data were analysed using structural equation modeling in AMOS 18.0.
The results show that both transformational leadership and the transactional behavior management by exception active are significantly related to fulfillment of the basic needs. Significant regression weights of 0.50 (p , 0:01) 0.46 (p , 0:01), and 0.21 (p , 0:01) from transformational leadership to relatedness, autonomy and competence were also found. Negative and smaller paths were revealed from management by exception to relatedness (¼ 20:12, p , 0:01), competence (¼ 20:12, p , 0:05), and autonomy (¼ 20:18, p , 0:01). Squared multiple correlations (R 2 ) for relatedness, competence and autonomy were 0.28, 0.06, and 0.27, respectively.

June 5, 2012

Problems of overdiagnosis

In this article, Preventing overdiagnosis: how to stop harming the healthy, I came across the following list over overdiagnosis problems:


For some background on what overdiagnosis is and in which sense it is a problem you can read this: Overdiagnosed: too much diagnosis is turning more and more of us into patients.

June 4, 2012

Combining practice based learning and theory based learning

As mentioned before on this site, I am rather reluctant about the usefulness of a giving advice - especially unasked-for advice. In general my assumption is that self-found internal solutions, solutions which are based on people's own experience and which they can apply themselves without help or training by others, are the most motivating way forward in many situations. By the way, from this, it does not follow that we can't help other people. We can actually help people identify their own internal solutions. But the way to do this is not to offer them judgments and advices. Instead, through a process of asking carefully chosen questions and interventions people can, in many cases be helped to find their own solutions to problems (here is an example of how such a helping strategy may be designed).

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