• Sherry

Learning is the new Currency – Margaret Scavo

Until recently, we have thought of working, learning and living as separate activities. Our personal lives were also separate but not today. Blends of digital and physical experiences make it possible to integrate all of our experiences. This makes for better leaders. Coaches have the ability to help us with this integration. I met with Margaret Scavo, executive coach and consultant to hear how she helps leaders address work challenges with an appreciation for all dimensions of who we are.


SB: Tell me about your path to coaching?


MS: I started my career in HR and organization development and felt after many years of learning that I could make a bigger difference by working with individuals and meeting them where they were in their career. Some were starting out, some were in mid-career and others were at the top. Some of my clients have described my approach as a blend of directness with a velvet glove. There is an element of push, if the leader wants to see the possibilities and in fact, be accountable for change.


My corporate experience was in healthcare and I always had an interest in a broader way, as a coach or leadership development guide within other settings. I am fascinated by what makes an organization tick.


SB: How will coaches be better partners to help leaders address this complex world of work?


MS: It is really going to be about asking insightful questions. I am not telling a leader what to do, I ask, so that they think differently. Holding them accountable and caring at the same time makes a difference. People are not good at moving fast. When leaders struggle with something, they don’t have someone often to go to - the coach plays the role of confidant, the person that will be real with them …most don’t have that kind of trusted partner.


It is all about relationship building. I have seen that our profession of coaching is growing. One of the good things is that it is not just for the elite –managers are seen as future leaders as well.

We will see more peer coaching going forward as managers become open to feedback and continual learning. Peers are also learning how to coach each other. It is refreshing to see organizations committed to this important skill development. I also believe that certifications are very important to develop these skills.


SB: How do leaders take conscious actions to make their work world better?


MS: It requires continual focus. Also, leaders do not need to feel like they have to do it alone. Who are your go to people? Consciously think about that and nurture those relationships. That makes us all better leaders.


I find it fascinating that we don’t teach people how to build relationships in person. As humans, we are better at avoiding conflict than managing the conversation or having the conversation. I see this even at the senior level. The good news is that they are opening up more about the future – reflecting on what is happening, having insight and reflecting on achieving results. More leaders take the time to reflect. Kouzes and Posner talk about insight and reflecting on things that matter to you.


I do see more CEO’s who get it, own it and take responsibility. The Directors want ownership too and they have a commitment to the organization. In order to make the work world better, I see partnership happening at many levels.


SB: What do advancing professionals (Age 20’s and 30’s) need to prepare and be the leaders of the future?


MS: The stereotype still exists. There is anxious anticipation for what is next in their career. I am impressed with their smarts and thinking differently as they look to the future. They don’t have to always find something new – but refining where and what they focus on creates positive energy as well. This age group is community and environmentally focused. Their level of volunteer appetite is so high, we need to encourage and acknowledge that.


There should also be a focus on communication. Managers need help with communicating with this new advancing professional. The new cohort does not hang out with their managers and directors. They do seek their own age group. I encourage our senior leaders to create a setting to allow and bring the multi- generations together. I have several companies that understand the importance of the relationship with new hire and have intentional practices that bring the 25 year old and more senior professionals together. They learn from each other.


I gave one of my clients who is in her mid-thirties an assignment to schedule time with the CEO. I also suggested, instead of going in to the office, suggest going for a walk and getting out of your normal space. Being creative here in how they connect makes this possible and more natural for both parties.


SB: How are the best cultures recognizing that coaching for the future is for the “whole” person?


MS: I think often when a coaching relationship starts; it starts with a work challenge. However, a lot is happening in their whole life so what might be influencing their impact at work, includes relationships, wellness and personal challenges.


I am not a therapist, but if there are challenges at home it does impact work. Build the relationships so that we talk about the whole person – get them to open up about themselves.


Summary

I appreciate Margaret’s openness about the coaching relationship. She stated that 60% of the leaders she is working with are preparing for that next opportunity. I can only imagine the pressure that places on a leader who is building his or her team.


Learning is the new currency and all generations share that interest in remaining relevant and adding value. We have a nation of “working leaders” says, the researchers at The Institute of the Future. They are the drivers and beneficiaries of this learning economy. What is the value and expectation of our talent? I see that many of our clients are focused on skills that distinguish them from the pack and accelerate their experiences. Are you as a leader clear on what your talent wants and have you discussed how to support them in their learning journey? It’s time to take that walk around the building with your team member.


About Margaret Margaret Walker Scavo is the President of MWS Executive Coaching, a firm that specializes in executive coaching and leadership development, where her focus and energy is in helping leaders find their greatest strengths in themselves and in those around them. Margaret holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Human Resources and Organization Development. She is an Adjunct Professor at Brandman University, teaching graduate organizational leadership and a certified executive coach through the College of Executive Coaching. She also holds a certification as a purpose-driven leader and coach.

The focus of coaching is tied to the growth and development of individuals and teams. Margaret has the ability to analyze challenges, identify opportunities and partner on solutions to support both the individual and business objectives across all levels of an organization. She does this with a genuine and authentic style and does whatever it takes to bring a leader to their desired leadership place. You can find Margaret at www.mwscoaching.com or mws@mwscoaching.com

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