In ancient Greece, a “Symposium” was a meeting for convivial and intellectual conversation.
After a year of planning with a great team, I have just returned from Chicago where the International Association of Coaching in Organizations (ICCO) held a 2.5 day symposium on “Executive Coaching for Sustainable Leadership”. As is ICCO’s norm, this event included all stakeholders who are interested in furthering the study, learning, processes, and professionalism of executive coaching in organizations. It was truly an international event, with attendees from Europe and India.
Kept small, so as to retain some semblance of intimacy and confidentiality, thirdy six of us proceeded with case studies presented by individuals in business organizations. We then broke into smaller groups, with some of the participants coaching and others consulting with the presenters in a confidential, safe atmosphere.
One of the ICCO board members, Bill Berquist, said that he figures each presenter actually gets about $10,000-$15,000 of coaching and consulting services in the process. We heard from each of them following the process and learned that all took home new ideas, some more profound than others, and some with concrete, actionable items.
Sustainable Leadership is a big topic – and the planning team was quite intentional about choosing such an amorphous title. It allowed for a lot of space and creativity. We spent a half day on “animateur” questions around the topic, and came to no specific conclusions, but it seemed all involved walked away with new thinking and ideas. This was okay, since the entire symposium was about the conversation, and opening our minds to new thought.
Saturday’s “rump session” (because it came at the end – the “rump” – of the symposium) deepened the conversations through facilitated conversation which allowed us to co-create the questions and subsequent dialog. Since this was linked to what we experienced and discussed the first two days, it was a marvelous way to cap off the symposium by provoking additional ideas.
The individuals attending from business organizations indicated that it was a chance for them to step out of their daily routine, take a breath, have some deep discussions about what mattered to them on the topics and to take away some new ideas to help them move forward in their organizations. I do believe that everyone walked away renewed.
Since I was on the planning team, I may be a bit biased. But I walked away grateful for the time in dialog with people who also care about sustaining leadership and the impact that coaching can make to that.