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REALIZING POTENTIAL

By Liz Barron

· Top Stories,Personal Stories

"Opportunities don`t just simply happen; You have to create them!"

REALIZING POTENTIAL

Career and relationship coach Liz Barron writes for Self Starter Magazine

Some people ask me why I spell my company name with a ‘z’ – Realize, not Realise. Well it’s my nerdy private joke – my name’s right in the middle!
So to explain, back in the last century, I used to be a programmer. And you might ask how I ended up at this point, coaching teams to thrive ? Well, the two aren’t that different in many ways.
We were lucky enough back in the 1980s to be studying computing – which was rare enough in any school but especially in an all girls school in small town Ireland – I’m a proud yellow-belly from Wexford. The thing I liked about programming was that it was all about finding a solution to a problem, and working through a process or sequence of steps to get there. Same with coaching teams… see problems … find the solutions!

Career and relationship coach Liz Barron writes about realizing your potential, for Self Starter Magazine

After studying computing in college I joined a bank, and worked in technical roles (crawling under desks, wielding a screwdriver – we were all for equality in those days). I also managed projects; facilitated, mentored and coached agile project teams (yes we had those too back in the early 2000s). But the biggest challenge was always with people and teams, not so much with the actual technology. People misunderstood each other, didn’t know how to resolve conflict, and often took sides. They were too polite or not assertive enough to give feedback and too sensitive to be open to receiving feedback. Business people didn’t trust IT and IT people expected business people to know what they wanted, and none of them really wanted to see things from the other person’s point of view!
I realised I was more interested in people than technology so I studied coaching, and I started my coaching business at the beginning of the recession (hindsight is a great thing!) mainly working in career coaching and outplacement which were in big demand. At this stage I met lots of amazing clients at quite senior levels who went on into new roles, and would invite me to come & work with them and their teams. I have since come full circle back to focus particularly on helping project managers and business leaders to build thriving, productive and profitable teams.

Professional career & relationship coach Liz Barron writes for Self Starter Magazine

Even though its twenty plus years later, the challenges are still the same – and now often made worse by technology which instead of being an enabler is often part of the problem, creating barriers between team members instead of supporting true collaboration.
Tech leaders and team members in particular can struggle when they haven’t yet developed the people skills required to work effectively with their colleagues and clients, so I work to help them to build thriving, productive and resilient teams that are empowered to consistently deliver their best results.

A strong motivator for me to continue doing this work is to enable people and teams to realize their full potential – and as I love working both with individuals and groups I’m grateful to be able to do this, and to have some fun and see a bit of the world while I’m at it!
I am working really hard and getting lots of coaching myself in relation to growing my business, and investing in my own professional development – so I believe in practicing what I preach! While I have my own business, I can’t do it on my own, so it’s been great having support from other business owners such as Team Starter and professional networking groups – who are part of my virtual team. It’s all about being proactive and deciding where you and your team want to go.

Professional career & relationship coach Liz Barron writes for Self Starter Magazine

"So how do we create those thriving teams?

Here are five key things I’ve observed at the heart of successful and cohesive teams."

Leading from wherever you are. Foster development of all the team’s ability to lead themselves and others. That’s not always standing up and getting everyone all fired up about what you want them to do; sometimes it’s leading quietly by example – questioning, listening intently. But if everyone’s a leader, then you also need clearly identified decision makers and someone whose responsible for setting the agenda and agreeing on goals, who will be accountable for the overall results of the team.

Constructing Connection. Many teams complain of feeling disconnected, with no real team spirit; they’re so busy doing the work that they haven’t had time to build their working relationships and the trust that they need to perform effectively. A top motivator for people in their work is to feel that they belong, so it’s important for long-term performance to help build this connection. Yet this is often overlooked or managers might think it’ll sort itself out, when often it doesn’t – the connection needs to be given space and time to grow.
Channeling Communication. The third biggest problem in project failure is Communication and People-related issues. And in all my years working with projects and teams, people still continue to struggle with this. Especially in the virtual age, we have more technology than ever to support communication, but we seem to be communicating less effectively. Having proper, regular communication channels for group/team meetings is vital, as well as one to one meetings and plans for how the team can communicate most effectively using email, messaging and other platforms.
Creating Collaboration. Most of the time, we are not really collaborating; we are cooperating. More like an assembly line where we pass products from one person to another – what we are really aiming for is high-quality conversations where we challenge, give feedback, build on each other's ideas to come up with something that’s better as a result than any one of us could do alone. That’s where real innovation and creativity comes from.
Build Emotional Intelligence (EQ) skills. EQ is recognized as a critical success factor in effective leadership – but it’s also one of the key enablers to high performing teams and working effectively together. This means team members have the ability to be aware of themselves and their reactions, and how they can respond effectively and in a resilient way to external situations and other people. This is at the core of EQ; helping to build emotional agility which helps the team to be resilient and flexible during times of pressure.

Professional career & relationship coach Liz Barron writes for Self Starter Magazine

Liz Barron offers Leadership & Team Coaching, Coaching Skills Development, Emotional Intelligence Coaching and in-house Seminars and Workshops to help business leaders, project managers & teams to realize their full potential.
Contact Liz at
realize.ie or connect on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter to book a free 30-minute consultation about where you want to take your leadership career.

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