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HELPING OTHERS, WITH A FOCUS ON A POST-PANDEMIC FUTURE

Several weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Lianne Krakauer began noticing a subtle shift among some of the people she works with as a leadership and career coach.

The intensity of constant crisis management was beginning to relent, if only slightly, to allow for the possibility of a future without chaos and fear. And for those who haven’t yet arrived, she’s carefully broaching the prospect of getting there.

“There are quite a few people grappling with ‘How do I keep up this pace?’” says Lianne, a Toronto-based coach on the Vision Coaching roster who brings with her more than 20 years of experience.

‘What is the most important thing to focus on now?’

“For some people, the conversations we’ve been having are about the need to slow down or to reset. For just about everyone, their priorities are much different today than when we began coaching before the pandemic. So an important part of the coaching becomes what is the most important thing to focus on now?”

I have a lot of admiration for Lianne. When we first met, she was shifting her career coaching practice to focus on how leaders and aspiring leaders can transform the way they contribute and serve.

With her background in law and psychology, she naturally brings a confident and logical approach to her coaching, yet also a warmth and empathy that endears her to clients. We’re grateful, and proud, to have her on the Vision Coaching team.

While she is based in Canada’s largest city, she provides coaching to clients anywhere.

We’ll get back to her journey with clients during the COVID-19 crisis in a moment. First, I want to share with you briefly her shift from lawyer to coach.

Her journey into coaching began at age 21, though she didn’t realize it at the time. She had just finished her first year in law school at the University of Toronto but she realized it wasn’t what she imagined, so set off on a year of travel and self-discovery. Coming back, she decided to finish out her degree and realized law aligned with her desire to help others.

A solutions-based approach

After graduating, she was a labour and employment adviser within government and was given unexpected opportunities that grew her leadership skills and exposure to organizational development. She left government to return to her alma mater, progressing into a senior role as an assistant dean of career services, helping students and alumni develop their legal careers.

While there, she decided to pursue a masters degree in education, specializing in counselling psychology, and enrolled in a brief solutions-focused therapy course. It turned out to be a fateful decision – the solution-focused philosophy of counselling resonated with her and to this day informs her work as a coach.

With years of career coaching experience under her belt, she set about to establish herself as an executive and leadership coach full-time. She obtained an executive coaching certificate through Royal Roads University (where we first met!) and her Professional Certified Coaching credential (PCC) through the International Coach Federation shortly after completing the program.

It is about tapping into that wisdom, shining a light on it, and focusing on what they can do to be even more awesome.

She’s been helping clients ever since with a “solutions focused” approach to change and growth.

“I start with understanding what a person already has within them – what are their untapped strengths and resources? How can they build on what they already know? It is about tapping into that wisdom, shining a light on it, and focusing on what they can do to be even more awesome.”

Like everyone, she and her clients are navigating uncharted waters with the pandemic today and the economic consequences it has wrought. Through the first few weeks, it was all survival mode for her clients – keep the business alive, transform it into a virtual model, keep employees engaged, clients assured, and themselves healthy. And, in some cases, all with kids underfoot.

As people begin to contemplate what comes next, albeit with the future still very much uncertain, Lianne is urging clients to consider what learnings and opportunities could arise from the crisis.

Creating unexpected opportunities

“The question is, what are you going to learn during this period that has allowed you to grow as a leader and to help your team to grow? And some folks are ready for those conversations,” she says.

The crisis has also created unexpected opportunities for some clients.

“One of the leaders I have been coaching for a while has had some struggles finding her voice with her team. She is a more introverted person, and keeps a lot to herself. People want to hear from her and we’ve been working on how to speak up in a clear and authentic way, to find her own voice,” she says.

“She is flourishing right now. In some ways, as an introvert, the lockdown situation plays to her strengths. She has more solo time to think through how she wants to communicate, she’s meeting more frequently, albeit virtually, with her team, and she’s learned how to provide concise, clear feedback,” she says.

“She’s seeing the benefits, and she is feeling more confident as a result. I am hearing in her this belief in herself that wasn’t there before.”

Over the coming months, Lianne sees an important role for coaches in helping people recover from the trauma of the pandemic and the societal and economic havoc it has created. For some, there could end up being a silver lining – a chance to reinvent themselves, their jobs or their organizations.

“I’m seeing it as a chance for people to hit reset on how we do business, how we work together as a team, who we want to be as leaders,” she says.

“As people come out of hiding, it will be an opportunity to try to make meaning out of this and determine what they are bringing back into this new world, because it is not going to be the same.”

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