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Wellness Coaching – Somatic Approaches to the Rigid Character Defense Structure in India

Posted By Preeti Rao, Monday, April 1, 2019
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2019
Originally in NWI's International Wellness Connection blog on March 1, 2018
To access the current and 60 plus members only archived International Wellness Connection articles, become a member
 HERE >>

Preeti Rao
Founder & CEO, Weljii

Interestingly enough there are strong cultural implications of an Indian society that amplifies the rigid character defence. Through Barbara Ann Brennan’s work, we know that the main issue of people with the rigid character defence is claiming their authenticity (Brennan, 1993). This is caused by separation from their core essence and complete focus on keeping their outer world appearance perfect (Brennan, 1993, pg.245).

This disconnect with one’s core seems prevalent in the Indian culture. According to industry consultant Eugene M. Makar, traditional Indian culture is defined by a relatively strict social hierarchy (Makar, 2008). The joint family system still prevalent in smaller towns and villages plays a significant role in the Indian culture. It is a system under which extended members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. – live together. Usually, the oldest male member is the head in the joint Indian family system. He makes all important decisions and rules, and other family members abide by them. (Indian Families, 2011) Makar also mentions that from an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society (Makar, 2008). Hence, unlike the west, family relationships in the Indian community do not operate under the nuclear family models. The majority of the families still work within the communal models, which prefer family honour to individual freedoms and choices (Verma, 2010).

These strict rules and the social hierarchy structure puts pressure to keep up the appearance of everything perfect, with no fault or weakness, in order to survive. Children in India are potentially denied of negative experiences and parents and society at large force them to establish a false sense of the world. The parents and other family members control the whole outer environment to create an illusion of perfection (Brennan, 1993). Since the head of the family in India usually makes the decision, there is little room for others to express their individuality (Makar, 2008). My assumption hence would be that the inability of a person to express their individuality could potentially make the defence action of the rigid character heightened by attempting to become even more perfect (Brennan, 1993). An Indian would usually have a seemingly perfect spouse and a perfect family. They are usually successful and make good amounts of money. They aim for perfection in all aspects of their lives (Makar, 2008 & Brennan, 1993).

The rigid character defence mechanism of everything is perfect correlates with the obsession with perfection in the context of the Indian culture. Most Indian people aim for not only mere success but demand it ruthlessly (Verma, 2010). While this person may be open to the idea of therapy as yet another form of self-improvement, they are usually not open to the emotional surrender necessary to break through the character structure. In addition, society at large usually heaps great rewards upon this person for their high levels of achievement. Unfortunately, all of that vicarious support only makes it more difficult for this person to find happiness (Johnson, 1994).

So it is highly possible that due to the constrains imposed on Indians by the society’s norms and rules, that these people constantly avoid the feeling of being unloved for who they truly are. They may find themselves resonating with, “I need to be someone you want me to be.” This may be because they’ve learned clear rules of what is ok and what is not ok at the expense of their own individuality. It’s all about being perfect but according to someone else’s standards and in this case it could parents, extended family, friends and the society at large. They can potentially experience the constant fear to do and feel the right thing. They usually fear that love will be withdrawn if they do not comply with the societal ethics and hence it is possible that their inner world is repressed and sometimes completely denied (Johnson, 1994).

Another interesting aspect that can be correlated with the rigid character defence is the fact that in present India, sex and sexuality are still considered topics that are tabooed. Topics such as male libido and female orgasm do not trickle the bedroom of an average Indian. The subject of sexuality is neither approached clinically nor as a natural phenomenon. It is always been veiled behind stigma, taboo and mystique. It is a common phenomenon for most Indian families to deny opportunities for open discussion about sex. Usually such taboos and restrictions are accepted with no questions asked (Roy & Rizvi 1998).

Similarly in a person with the rigid character defence the child’s natural erotic strivings and expressions, including masturbation, are greeted with anxiety, rejection, severe disapproval or punishment by sexually repressed parents. In the rigid character defence, an inadequate sense of self can be caused by the separation of love feelings from sexual feelings.  Repressed sexual feelings are pathologically expressed through psychosomatic symptoms, in frequent sexual activity without any love involvement (“flings” or affairs), restlessness, hyperactivity or “flighty” behaviour”, or diverted into ambitiousness in the material world. The latter seems to be more relevant to the Indian society were sex is taboo and the sexual energy is diverted to material possessions and success (Jejeebhoy, S. 2000).  I wonder whether this repressed unresolved Oedipal conflicts causes deep longings for the opposite sex with persistent fears of betrayal

It is also important to note that India is a patriarchal society where a woman is supposed to have a place secondary to a man. For example, a woman will take father’s name at birth and husband’s name after marriage; a woman is expected to deliver a male child; only the man is authorized to perform religious ceremonies and rituals; upon marriage the man gets a substantial amount of dowry from woman’s parents and brings home a wife who is expected to live with his parents (Verma, 2010,pg. 1). So the idea of self is even more denied with women than with men in the Indian society. Hence, it is important to be extremely careful in deciding somatic and coaching interventions for the Indian women clientele.

Understanding the correlations between the Indian code of conduct and morals, and the rigid character defence can help to understand how to respond in a positive healing way towards my future Indian clients in coaching sessions. Some of the things that will make it easy to protect my boundaries while engaging with rigid character defence is that these folks have a strong balanced auric field with their boundaries in place. That means that I won’t have to worry about controlling my bioplasmic streamers or my vibrational frequency (Brennan, 1993). As a coach it will be important for me to facilitate an environment where my client feels that, “All of him/her is welcome”. While enabling the client to feel his or her own essence, it is important for me to connect cellularly with my own essence. The mantra of the rigid character defence, “I am real” vs. “I am appropriate”, would be most healing for the Indian clientele grappling with this character defence.  While doing so, it will also help to acknowledge the gifts of this character defence. The gifts are that these folks are usually very generous of their time and emotions – this can potentially explain the Indian hospitality – they inspire others, are loving and passionate. They usually are natural leaders and are usually very easy to be around (Johnson, 1994).

Since Indians in general take great pride in their successes and accomplishments, as a coach, it would be imperative to establish a respectful and professional environment which facilitates acknowledging the person’s genuine accomplishments in life, and the seriousness and concern for how he or she has successfully managed many aspects of adult living. It will also be important to create a space where they could acknowledge the confusion and disappointment they feel that in spite of these achievements and have no judgments if he or she is bored, lonely, restless and or dissatisfied (Johnson, 1994).

As a coach it would be challenging but imperative to create pathways that would allow my Indian clients to develop flexibility in approaches to life’s tasks and relationships while relinquishing the exaggerated pride and need to hold back. Since both men and women are programmed to function in set ways in the society (Verma, 2010), as a coach if I would create a space that would allow my client to surrender to their fears of becoming weak, vulnerable or losing face (Brennan, 1993). I could create a space that will encourage my clients to experience their true self while still respecting cultural sensitivities.

This will encourage my client to become aware of and open up to the true depth and beauty of the self that exists beyond the superficiality of appearances and performances enforced on them by the society at large. It would help these individually caged in the rigid character defence to recognize their higher self-aspects, especially their capacity to love fully and to see that their gifts are there even when hidden behind the mask. And that although they have a wounded aspect in their personality, they need not identify with that aspect in order for it to get the help it needs (Johnson, 1994).

As the coaching interventions continue the person may drop the mask and release the raw negative feelings. At such junctions, fear of pleasure and expansion may need to be addressed as it comes up with reassurance and no judgment. And based on the client’s own new experiences; it will be important to facilitate an environment that grounds them to embrace their new energy and spiritual self.

This article demonstrates how different coaching and somatic intervention are necessary to facilitate clients to achieve goals that they might want to accomplish and feel deeper connection and meaning to.

Preeti RaoPreeti Rao is the Founder & CEO, Weljii. Weljii is the recipient of 50 Best Wellness Companies - Global Listing - award by the World Health and Wellness Congress. She holds a Masters degree in International Business and a Masters in Integrative Health Studies with specialization in Wellness Management and Health & Wellness Coaching. She is India’s only ICHWC Mentor Coach and NWI International Standing Committee Member.

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Transformational Leadership

Posted By Alex Lobo, MBA, Thursday, January 3, 2019
Updated: Monday, December 17, 2018
Originally in NWI's International Wellness Connection blog on November 28,2017
To access the current and 60 plus members only archived International Wellness Connection articles, become a member
 HERE >>

One of the biggest issues in the management of human talent, the achievement of strategic objectives, and the execution of priorities and needs of the organization, is that people do what they have to do to succeed. 

The issue of leadership has been addressed in many ways; most research being around the need to train people, motivate them, and empower them. The main problem is that each human being has different needs, values, beliefs, talents, resources, abilities, and ways of looking at life. Also, the people who lead do so in different ways through different leadership styles and employ different techniques to have their teams achieve their results. From this perspective, change by itself is not enough to achieve goals and results, especially in medium- and long-term strategy issues in companies. It is not enough to provide methodologies, motivation, and tools. It is necessary to accomplish a change from the operational level, to transform at the level of identity; which generates alignment with respect to values and strategy.

Today, work teams need to self-manage, and for this we need a new way of looking at the leadership issue. Not only the change that the leader asks of his teams, but from the process of accompaniment towards an integral transformation of the person. Today more than ever, leaders have the opportunity to become mentors, coaches, cheerleaders, and sergeants of their teams. Always starting from their own example, from their own resources. But above all, the leadership that is required nowadays has to do with the identity of the leader and the identity of the work teams.

The basis of transformational leadership is self discovery. Who should I be to achieve the objectives? Who do I have to convert? What are the features of my personality that I would have to exalt? What to improve? How should my own resources grow? How am I a generator of that process of change in operability, of transformation in identity? 

Affects Of Transformational Leadership On Work Teams

Transformational leadership positively affects work teams from the level of behavior change —new tasks, assignments, skills to be developed — through to the transformation of beliefs and attitudes, regarding the task itself and team members' own abilities. It is also important to influence the habits and discipline of each member, to explore what are the values and moral and intellectual priorities of each one, as well as their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which gives a better understanding of what is relevant for each work team. 

The three concrete actions of the transformational leader are: understanding the fears and obstacles through which each work team passes; understanding the context and current situation of the individual and their resources and immediate needs, and facilitate the process of transformation, starting from what is apparently a simple task to what becomes a new identity.

Transformational leadership involves those steps leaders have to take to manage themselves. To be able to increase their influence on others, understand the motivations, limitations, and fears of their work team, and help them to expand an instrumentalist vision of accomplishing tasks and achieving results to a functional vision of capacity expansion and strengthening of human identity.

There are specific characteristics of the transformational leader and specific motivations and ambitions of all human beings. The contemporary leader understands these elements and uses them in favor of results, growth, and the generation of future value. Thus adding competitive advantage through four characteristics for the development of transformational leadership: 

  1. Social-emotional skills:  these are the concepts of self-care, self-knowledge of emotional intelligence, social intelligence, the motivations and unique situations of each individual, decision-making, and always thinking about this concept of "better decisions" and that of resilience, concept, and concrete development goals, how to grow in each of these areas with specific indications, individually and at a corporate level.
  2. Virtues: the transformational leader is someone who is regulated in the moral and spiritual from the cardinal virtues. The need to develop strength as a central element of consistency, ability to face obstacles and not bend to situations that are in the way. Temperance, which is the virtue that regulates one's appetites, passions, and vices that we generate consciously or unconsciously and that obviously distract us, de-motivate us, and generate physical, psychological, and profitability consequences. Prudence, which is having the clarity of doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time with the right people, and being able to understand and have a broader vision of the different systems, actors, and forces that exist in the business environment — the number one feature of the trans-formational leader. Development of maturity as the core competence, understood as the ability to self-regulate, self-manage, and to achieve what is proposed.
  3. Persuasion: everything that social influence implies, and how to raise one’s levels of influence to have others do it. Evidently here the key piece has to do with the motivation both at the intrinsic and extrinsic personal level. 
  4. The competition vs. the experience: every transformational leader must have worked, documented their personal learning, their success stories and failures. The leader must understand the specific lessons to work with their teams in specific situations and understand that the main task is to inspire and instruct.

Every one of these characteristics is necessary to increase the chances of success in achieving objectives. In addition to these competencies there are five specific habits that transformational leaders have to master: 

  1. Self-management and self-government: eat well, sleep well, exercise, and lead a harmonious, healthy, and well existence.
  2. Continuous learning: the leader is the first apprentice. Lead from learning and not from knowledge; the knowledge leader gives a chair, the leader in learning accompanies the discovery or transformation process.
  3. Listening: it must be active, with an interest and with a fair amount of curiosity towards people and their points of view.
  4. Discipline: there is no obstacle that can resist perseverance and for this it is important to stay focused, not be distracted, and be a bit stubborn through tenacity.
  5. Celebration: the transformational leader knows how to recognize the effort and knows how to reward the results. Understand that the basis of happiness is progress and that it requires taking time to recognize, reward, and give back. 

Although these habits are not generated from one day to the next, if you start immediately, you achieve your domain through repetition. It is also useful to propose a plan of action and individual improvement for the achievement of goals. This is undoubtedly a recipe or proven formula for accomplishing the transformation of work teams and individuals. Conceptually it makes a lot of sense, however the emphasis must be on the execution and implementation of these concepts.

Alex LoboAlejandro (Alex) Lobo is founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention, writer, researcher, lecturer, educator, consultant, Wellness Coach, Life & BusinessPerformance Coach. The Mexican Institute of Comprehensive Prevention, is an association Alex founded after extensive experience working in the design, management and implementation of “Comprehensive Prevention” Models in educational institutions, public and private sector and governmental organizations. He has studied administration, international trade, and has obtained a Master degree in the Mexican Business School (IPADE). Furthermore, he has worked in consulting, teaching and research in various institutions in Mexico, the United States, and South America. “Comprehensive Prevention” ensures full personal development and freeing the inner potential. It humanizes relationships and leads to a state of consciousness, well-being and fulfillment.

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Designing and Delivering the first Wellness Management Degree in the United Kingdom

Posted By Louise Buxton, BA (Hons) PGCE MA FHEA, Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Originally in NWI's International Wellness Connection blog on November 28, 2017
To access the current and 60 plus members only archived International Wellness Connection articles, become a member
 HERE >>

University of DerbyDegree programmes relating to wellness and wellbeing are not commonplace within United Kingdom (UK), those that do exist largely couple the subject of wellbeing with health.  Drawing on its expertise in spa management education, in 2016, the team from the Department of Hotel, Resort and Spa Management at the University of Derby embarked on a journey to design and develop the first degree in wellness management in the UK.  The programme that they designed, the BSc (Hons) in Wellness Management, is a three year undergraduate programme that includes an optional year of placement in professional practice. 

The University of Derby is a modern and innovative university, which gained its university status in 1992, along with many other institutions via the UK Further and Higher Education Act. The university’s focus is on industry relevant qualifications and it prides itself on the high employability rate of its graduates (97% in 2017) and its Gold rating in the UK’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
The University of Derby, over a decade ago, developed the first degree level programmes in international spa management in the UK.   Taking their knowledge, expertise and experience of spa, of which many traditions and therapeutic practices have their origins in wellness, and their focus of developing graduates with strong managerial skills, business acumen and commercial awareness,  the team set out to develop an innovative degree programme. 

Being located in the beautiful spa town of Buxton, surrounded by the Peak District National Park, provides great opportunities for the department to link with the local community and tap in to the heritage of the region. Buxton as a health and wellness destination dates back to Roman times, the Romans settled there over 2,000 years ago because of the mineral springs that bubble up from under the town.  The 18th century saw great development in the town with the building of the Crescent Hotel and the Devonshire Dome, the Dome is now the Buxton campus of the University of Derby. To this day visitors to Buxton can taste the famed mineral waters by visiting St Ann’s Well in the town centre. The Devonshire Dome was originally built as stables to house the horses of visitors to the town, subsequently it became a hospital and continued to offer hydrotherapy treatment and rehabilitation until its closure in 2000. The university bought the Devonshire Dome in 2001 and invested in a £23 million renovation project. The Dome opened as a campus in 2006, delivering degrees in spa, tourism, events, culinary arts, hospitality management, sport and outdoor leadership.

Department of Hotel, Resort and Spa ManagementThe team in the Department of Hotel, Resort and Spa Management at the University of Derby were aware of the emerging wellness sector for a number of years, seeing a greater emphasis on multi-dimensional and holistic practices in spa, and a rise in guests seeking to enhance their mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing through their spa consumption. Drawing on expertise from colleagues in spa, tourism and hospitality management, the team set out to test the idea for their new programme through initial consultation.  A series of events were arranged with local, national and international employers, plus their network of contacts and alumni.The response was overwhelmingly positive and via the consultation, themes emerged which emphasised the need for graduates to have a clear understanding of the concept of wellness and the practices that underpin the concept. Ideas and information abounded and one of the first challenges in taking the idea forward was deciding what to and not to include in the curriculum.  

In rising to the challenge the team looked to the National Wellness Institute and Dr Bill Hettler’s model of The Six Dimensions of Wellness.  Drawn from this model, the curriculum focusses on, but is not limited to: the concept of wellness, principles of mind, body and spirit and the theories that under pin wellness, including anatomy, physiology and psychology. At its core the programme has a suite of management modules including aspects of, marketing, leadership and management, finance, business planning, strategic and operational management.  Forming the core of the programme, these modules are designed to develop students’ business acumen and commercial awareness, and skills that allow them to lead in a range of supervisory and management positions.Noting that communication skills are essential and wanting students to gain skills in coaching and mentoring, so that they can have ‘wellness’ conversations, whether that be individuals about their wellbeing or companies about developing their wellness strategy, a module focussing on this was included in the second year of the programme.  One of the biggest challenges faced in curriculum design was in deciding whether or not to teach students practical wellness modalities as part of the programme.   Modalities such as yoga, tai chi and meditation were considered but the team settled on onsite massage and mindfulness as their choices.  The choices were based on the flexibility for these two practices to be delivered in a range of settings and they were included within the first year of the curriculum. It was then decided that the two areas of corporate wellness and wellness tourism would be option modules within the programme, as these may provide distinct career pathways for graduates.  

The importance of integrating knowledge from a range of disciplines and ensuring graduates were cognisant of the tenets of wellness became a strong guide in curriculum design. A highlight in the journey was concluding that the aim of the programme was:

To develop graduates with strong management and leadership skills, who promote a holistic, multi-dimensional approach to wellness and are aware of the breadth and diversity of the wellness sector.

With this aim, the intention wasto ensure graduates are lifelong learners and are equipped to take up leadership roles in areas such as: workplace wellness, community wellness, wellness tourism and wellness destinations. Exposure to professional practice was considered essential; the team concluded that students should engage in live projects throughout the programme, have the option to complete a yearlong placement between years two and three and should undertake an individual wellness management research project in their final year.  Awareness of the breadth and diversity of the wellness sector and the roles and career paths within it was also important.

Validation of the programme provided another challenge and key milestone in the programme development.   A degree validation event involves scrutiny by a panel of internal and external academics and quality managers who consider the content and design of the proposal.External representation on a validation panel is an essential quality assurance requirement and finding an academic with appropriate subject knowledge and expertise was a challenge.  After a fairly long search, an experienced panel member was found who worked on health and wellbeing ethics programmes, who was also a holistic therapist.  The external panel member fitted the role well, and was able to provide guidance to internal representatives who were unsure of the subject of the proposal put forward.After a challenging day of rigorous questioning and stimulating debate, the programme was validated and approved for delivery from September 2016.  This moment was both exciting and daunting as it brought the next challenge of recruiting students to study the programme.

Unfortunately, the programme did not recruit a sufficient cohort to run in 2016 and so the start date was postponed until 2017.   Promoting the programme through traditional undergraduate progression routes of schools and colleges, to potential students who are 16 and 17 years old proved problematic.  The team found that students of that young age did not fully understand the concept of wellness or the career opportunities within the sector, when compared to the more established subjects of tourism, hospitality and spa management.  The team recognised that they had extensive work to do to educate potential students and those who advise them of study and career choices about the opportunities in this growing sector.   

The programme began in September 2017, with a small cohort of students.  Since then the team have been eagerly working to expose students to many different wellness modalities and practices. This has included liaising with local and international organizations regarding live projects, and taking students can on a number of visits.  Firstly, students visited a destination spa in the north west of England, where they learnt about the spa’s focus on wellness and their extensive workplace wellness scheme.  Students also delivered hand and head massages as part of a wellbeing event for teachers from across the east midlands region.  One very exciting project that student have just begun, is a live workplace wellness project, which involves them evaluating a company’s support for line manager in respect of staff mental wellbeing and making recommendations for how the company can take the work forward.  Students can be see below ready to undertake a factory tour to learn about the company and gain greater insight into the working environment.

The prospect of delivering this new programme and taking the subject area forward in UK higher education is very exciting.  The team are undertaking scholarly activity and research to inform their teaching and following the recent publication of their text book, Spa Management: Principles and Practices, colleagues within the department are working together with other likeminded individuals to produce an academic journal which aligns to the spa and wellness curriculum.

So the journey continues, moving forward the team aim to grow their student numbers and are working on a recruitment plan.  Further forward the team would relish working with like-minded institutions and individuals to establish a wellness organization within UK.

To find out more about the programme, please contact Louise Buxton, Programme Leader of the BSc (Hons) in Wellness Management, at l.c.buxton@derby.ac.ukor visit the University of Derby’s website at www.derby.ac.uk

Louise BuxtonLouise Buxton is a Senior Lecturer in Spa and Wellness Management at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom.  Starting her career as a beauty therapist, Louise went on to study management, education, coaching, and mentoring at university. Louise holds an MA in Education, is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and an experienced therapist, coach, and mentor
Louise Buxton | BA (Hons) PGCE MA FHEA
Senior Lecturer | Link Tutor (Swiss Partners)
Department of Hotel, Resort and Spa Management | College of Business, Law and Social Sciences
University of Derby | LS/207 1 Devonshire Rd Buxton SK17 6RY
+44 (0)1332 594612
M: +44 (0) 7920478199


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Resilience — What it Means to Me

Posted By Elisabeth Wightman, Friday, November 2, 2018
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2018

Meningioma. Ever hear of it? Know someone who has it?
I am a trained Life/Wellness Coach and also have this condition.

Build resiliency and support others with meningioma.Have you been diagnosed with a serious illness? I want to share ways to address the trauma, shock, and overwhelming anxiety involved with a serious diagnosis and ways to offer empowerment and support.

I am designing a coaching program for those people diagnosed with meningioma and am asking for input. The coaching program I am working on is a combination of numerous international empowering and catalytic resources incorporating the Six Dimensions of Wellness and the Wheel of Wellness. I'm interested in working with people around the globe in support groups that have meningioma and are challenged by the reality involved.

I have had 2 surgeries to remove my tumor and am currently recovering from facial palsy, double vision and changes that are requiring rehabilitation at a center twice a week. I have the greatest empathy beyond my training to be able to present ways to really reach deep — accessing an individual’s inner strength and facilitate the vulnerabilities into tools of resiliency.

There will be no charge for this program; with members meeting one to three times a month. At the beginning of the month, the topic of focus is sent out as are resources and transformation processes. There are worksheets and access to more tools and resources with each month’s focus.  

The monthly focuses I am contemplating and currently designing are stress management, resiliency, mindfulness, neuroplasticity, nutrition, heart congruence, the interconnection between the 3 brains, the heart, brain and the gut, becoming a witness, breathing, and holistic nourishment. I have many more ideas which I’m formulating into introductory information packets with accompanying coaching questions used in the group. My webinar plans are being designed and I will be ready to share what I’m doing in a follow-up article. I am also contacting global speakers to ask that they appear as a guest speaker periodically.

I am assembling all my training and life experiences, which have empowered me and built my resiliency to support others with the condition of meningioma. I plan to give access to other people as time goes on. I would appreciate any suggestions or direction to be better prepared.

Elisabeth Wightman is a Professional Life Coach in Australia with an accompanying Wellness Certificate and an International NWI member. She earned a New Zealand Bachelor of Health Science, is ICF credentialed, Heart Math trained, and a licensed coach. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Natural Medicine to support previous Naturopathy training. She can be reached via email, elisabeth@theolivebridge.com 

Tags:  Coaching  Meningioma  Resiliency 

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Coaching Leaders in Brazil for Improved Wellness Outcomes

Posted By Cecilia Negrini, Monday, October 29, 2018

Founder and CEO of the company: Cecilia Negrini — Consulting and Advice for the Health Area

runner in brazilWhen we think of wellness for a third world country we must first consider basic principles of human dignity such as security, food, education and health.

Brazil is currently going through a very serious crisis of trust of its political leaders. In a little more than a year President Dilma Roussef was impeached and a few months later we found out that the current president Michel Temer was also involved in serious acts of corruption. These facts have made worse the economic crisis, increased unemployment and especially aggravated the revolution against authority and violence in our country.

In 3 years, the number of unemployed people has more than doubled, rising to 13.7% in the first quarter of 2017, according to the data released on April 31, 2017 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), through the PNAD survey. The latest data provided in August showed an improvement of this statistic of less than 1%, decreasing to 12.8% in the quarter ending July 2017. This improvement was due to informal work.That is, people who went about developing something on their own, empowering themselves with their personal skills and abilities and not waiting to be hired but becoming self-employed.

brazil neighborhoodThe economic crisis together with the crisis of a lack of trust in the government generates a sense of outrage in the population. The Brazilian population lack inspiring leaders and this has brought about bad consequences in several sectors of our society. We are in a chain effect that has had the consequence of creating great losses in personal wellness and quality of life. The economy is one of the main sectors affected and that brings consequences such as the increase of unemployment, insecurity and outrage, raising considerably the crime rate in Brazil.

Servant leadership has as a principle, the leader being an example of character, justice, and an inspiration for their population. "Be an example of a human being wherever you are, be it in your family, church, community or company. Develop yourself as a leader who has a sense of community and personal values that are fair and guided by what is right to do." Coaching is a tool to help people develop and pursue their goals with their own skills and abilities.

I believe that servant leadership, together with a coaching methodology can promote powerful actions for the promotion of wellness in countries like Brazil where it is common to find leaders with poor regard of person values.

This article aims to clarify how the combination of servant leadership and coaching can help develop Brazilian society by promoting wellness through better individual behaviors and, consequently, generate a more productive, peaceful, and happy society.

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership was first proposed in a 1970 essay by Robert K. Greenleaf, "Servant as Leader" which was inspired by his experience with institutions and the short reading of Herman Hesse's novel, "Journey to the East." That story is told in the first person by H.H., a musician and member of a brotherhood, who decides to take a long journey. The group followed a servant, esteemed by all, called Leo who was wise, faithful, kind and handsome. At one point Leo disappears and the group falls quickly into a spirit of disorder and he leaves the group. Years later the narrator finds out that despite being seen as a servant, Leo was the chief and spiritual guide of the religious order they belonged to. It was through this reading that Greenleaf solidified that what makes the greatness of a leader is ‘the attitude of first serving others’.

"Caring for people who are more capable and less able to serve one another is the rock upon which a society is built"
– Greenleaf

But it was with James C. Hunter that the concept of servant leadership gained greater prominence in Brazil. Initially named "The Servant," the book "The Monk and the Executive" has already sold more than 3 million copies in Brazil alone and has been on the list of bestselling books for ten years. The author also published two more books about leadership.

While Greenleaf uses the servant Leo as the inspiration for the novel Journey to the East, Hunter quotes Jesus Christ as the greatest example of a servant leader in his book "The Servant". Hunter defines leadership in the book "How to become a servant leader" as: "The ability to influence people to work enthusiastically toward common goals, inspiring confidence through strength of character.”

James C. Hunter defends the thesis that leaders must have character, a very strong spiritual basis and the awareness that leadership is not power but authority, conquered with love, dedication and respect for people.

The author shows that it is necessary to practice every day the skills of the servant leadership so that they become a habit. Simply engage in a process of continuous improvement, accept feedback from subordinates, and be willing to take the risks to eliminate the gap between who you are and what you need to change to become a truly effective leader.

In the writings of servant leadership mentioned above, there is a prominence of some key words that define the characteristics of the servant leader. In analyzing them one by one, note the alignment of coaching posture with that of the servant leadership:

Character - In the process of coaching you do not have to convince, deceive, impress or please anyone. It is the time to be truetoyourself.

Very strong spiritual base - In a process of coaching, beliefs and values always appear as guides or saboteurs of success. Beliefs and structured values in favor of the goals make the expected results closer;

Continuous Improvement - The coaching process aims to help achieve the high performance of people willing to develop;

Accept feedback - Only accepts feedback those who are committed to their personal development and focused on themselves and not seeking justifications for failures in the external environment;

Leadership is not power but authority - Authority belongs to people who know how to listen attentively to the opinion, knowledge and experience of others. That they have respect differences and do not make judgment without knowing the facts in depth;

Love - If you want to become a better person, you have a clear goal and actions to follow, is because there is love for something or someone;

Dedication - In a coaching process the sessions must take place weekly and the actions developed must have an agreed day, time, place to start and finish. The results depend entirely on the coachee's dedication;

Respect - Not judging, questioning what is right or wrong, listening attentively to others are basic principles of coaching and they demonstrate respect for the history, experience, knowledge and learning of the other.

For you to become someone better you will have to use your own resources, because nobody gives what they do not have. The greatest expectation about a leader is not their technical knowledge, but their ability to inspire the team to use the knowledge that is in favor of a common goal. Coaching in this process can be highly effective as it leads to the necessary questioning for the leader to find their essence and inspire others. Is 10% the best you can get? What about the other 90%?

A lot of personal knowledge is stored waiting to be used, but on a day-to-day basis the lack of purpose and clear goals can lead to one’s own resources remaining stacked away. Coaching can help the person to seek within the unused 90%.

The servant leader invites the person to be better. To understand that to lead is to evolve continuously.

The principles of servant leadership can be learned and applied by those who have the will and intention to change, grow and improve. What most leaders seek is to find new knowledge to better perform their tasks. But if research indicates that one uses only 10% of what one learns, what about the other 90%? Accessing and utilizing some or all of that 90% can boost the potential to face the difficult challenges of today's leaders. Coaching methodology has the potential to empower the leader to achieve this.

It is possible and advisable to obtain knowledge about a subject by reading a book or by taking part in a course, but application and practice are fundamental. The exercise of leadership is what leads to development.

There should be willingness to review old behaviors, identifying and altering what is judged to be necessary to achieve good results. The crucial difference in applying the coaching methodology is that the person knows what it is they are looking for. Coaching methodology involves self setting a clear goal and always ends with a personal action plan. Knowledge is not filed; it is sought for the execution of something that brings the person closer to their goal.

Considering that information, the leader must answer these questions:

1. On a scale of 0 to 10 how much am I engaged in a process of continuous improvement and becoming a more inspiring leader?

2. What else can I do to become a better leader?

3. What would the best leader I have ever known say to me to do besides everything that has been mentioned above?

4. From the above list of key characteristics of a Servant leader, which of these actions will I carry out now to bring me closer to my goal?

5. How will I do them? When? (Date/time) Where? (Local / Environment) Who with?

These questions will cause the leader to seek the responsibility for their own development and thus find solutions to overcome the difficulties that exist in the current socio-political and economic scenario of Brazil. Moving from being a victim to be the main character of their life while developing a more just and transforming community. These actions will generate self-esteem, human dignity and inspire admiration and respect, infecting the environment in which they live with progress and continuous actions of personal and social development assisting in the construction of a society that Brazilians can be proud of — a society and culture depicting the rightness of character and growth by honest work.

The aforementioned process of coaching servant leaders has been implemented in hospitals, clinics and medical centers which are clients of our company and the results validate the effectiveness of the methodology. Both health professionals and their patients report that they have a higher quality of life. In a future article I will explain in detail the statistical results of the present program.

Cecelia NegriniCecilia Negrini is business Consultant, businesswoman, coach and speaker.

She is founder and owner of the company Cecilia Negrini – Consulting and Advice for the Health Area.  She had more than 10 years of experience in assisting health professionals. A personal coach by SLAC – Sociedade Latino Americana  deCoaching  and she is affiliated in Institute of Coaching by Harvard and affiliated in National Welness Institute – USA. She is specialist in Linguistics from UNESP – UniversidadeEstadualPaulista and she did MBA in Marketing for Health and  MBA in Business Management from FGV – FundaçãoGetúlio Vargas. She  works like facilitor in training about servant leadearshi by FórmulaTreinamentos and James Hunter – author  of the book The Servant and others.

 E-mail: cecilia@cecilianegrini.com


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