Hi, John, thank you for this interview.
Our purpose for this dialogues ist to give our readers an insight peak of the top trainings that are available on the Romanian market, and as the Certification for Coaches in Core Qualities is just some weeks ahead, we are curious about it.
I will start as Simon Sinek sais, with the „WHY”. In know that in coaching we are taught not to ask this question, but still Why? Why CORE QUALITIES? Why NOW? Why YOU?
John Bax: Well, I am not being coached now, so you can ask as many WHY’s as you wish :). Talking about „Why CORE QUALITIES” I would like to first point out that I find that being a good coach includes a strong belief in the potential of people and that they have more potential than they show. And I consider it a mission of a coach to support people in bringing out the best of themselves and to support them in cultivating their potential to the optimum. Both for their own fulfilment and for the good of others.
As core qualities refer to the natural qualities of people, I mean qualities they have as long as they can remember, they tend to take these qualities as „nothing special”. Even to the extent that they are not even so much aware of them. But in fact, their core qualities identify them more than any other qualities. They are part of their „beauty”.
„Why now”? I don’t think there is a specific ‚why now”, except that at this moment 13 countries have embraced the concept of CORE QUALITIES, first the Netherlands, then Western Europe and recently also Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.
Maybe “why now in Romania” is a better question. Romania is my second home country and besides the many things I love about Romania, I also see that focusing on the strengths of people and how to support them in cultivating them is not yet a settled part of Romanian’s culture. Though in the last few years I do notice in my work a growing change among parents, teachers as well as managers in this respect.
“Why me” is easy to answer for me. I love people. I love to see them happy, fulfilled and successful. And I am an optimist by nature. I always look at the positive side of things, sometimes even to a naïve extent. I am an adept of Positive Psychology and the concept of Core Qualities fully fits into that philosophy.
There are several years already since you brought Core Qualities into Romania, translated the book about Core Qualities & the Core Quadrant, and also scheduled to translate the English version of the Core Quadrant Game into Romanian for 2021. What is the first benefit that this tool brings to organizations?
John Bax: The very first benefit is a change in mindset and focus. A shift from focussing on working hard to improve weaknesses of people toward creatively cultivate and utilize their strengths, which for all parties involved is a much more energizing proces with better results in terms of engagement and productivity. As I always say: „People perform best when they do what they like and what they are good at, and when they are challenged in an inspiring way”.
I was invited in one of the promoting workshops, and experienced a part of working with core qualities and it was that moment that I recognized that the tool is functional and acurate – and looking at one of my core qualities I noticed that using it too much is indeed a pitfall... does it work like this for anyone? How? Tell us about the experience participants have in such a workshop?
John Bax: Yes it works for anyone. Daniel Ofman, the creator of Core Qualities, even states that if there is no pitfall then there is no core quality. And this is fairly logic, because a core quality is a natural quality which is exactly the reason why we tend to use them (consciously and subconsciously) in any situation and in collaboration with anybody. Even if the situation does not require it or others feel that we are overdoing things.
In my experience participants have 5 major experiences during a core quality workshop:
1. the moment that they discover (or become on a deeper level aware of) their true core qualities. For some this is even an emotional moment.
2. the moment when I ask them to assess how much they are able to explore and utilize their core qualities in their professional life. Many of them discover that they can do much more with their core qualities.
3. the moment when they, after embracing their core qualities, realize that when they use too much of their core qualities in certain situations or in collaboration with others, they enter into their pitfall. It is the moment when they acknowledge that there are situations in which their core qualities can become ineffective.
4. another touching moment is when they realize that their pitfalls are no weaknesses. They are just too much of their natural qualities. When I ask them to smile at their pitfalls and to say „you are part of me, part of my whole package” is also a very impactful experience during our workshop.
5. last but not least they feel quite inspired and empowered by the thought and the way of NOT working hard to show less of their core quality, but to integrate parts of balancing qualities into their core qualities when needed.
Why is CQ good for coaches? What new things did it bring to your coaching practice?
John Bax: Well I am sure that most coaches that followed a good certification training for coaching had quite some introspection and refection experiences themselves during that training. One of the goals of these experiences is to reduce the risk of projection during coaching sessions. What core qualities brought to me as an extra in my role as a coach is the great awareness how I tend to enter into my pitfalls during coaching sessions and how to control it. To give you one example: one of my core qualities is „action drive” which sometimes led me to become a bit „pushy” during my coaching sessions. And that is exactly what a coach should not do.
Do you use it in organizations? In what type of interventions?
John Bax: Yes, of course I do. I use it in one-to-one coaching, in team coaching and in organizational development. In one-to-one coaching to support individual clients to cultivate their core qualities and to integrate balancing qualities in order to avoid their core qualities to become ineffective. And on top of it using core qualities and the core quadrant as a tool to avoid or handle conflicts with people that have opposite core qualities. I also use it in mediation between people and teams. In team coaching I use it to support them in increasing their team spitit and team effectiveness, and to give them tools how to deal with stress situations, as these situations make team members enter into their pitfalls. And finally on an organizational level I use the principle of „collective core qualities” as being part of their culture and to identify which collective pitfalls are limiting their development as an organization.
In your webinar last week you talked about engagement, positive psychology and core qualities... how are the dots connecting?
John Bax: In my webinar last week with the title „WORKPLACE ENGAGEMENT: Positive psychology @ work” I explained why and how positive psychology is one of the ways to create a good premise for workplace engagement. And as I stated earlier in this interview, I consider the concept of Core Qualities and the methodology of the Core Quadrant a very useful tool to practice positive psychology at work, for the mere reason that it focuses on exploring, cultivating and utilizing strengths of people above working hard on improving their weaknesses. And who ever managed to turn their weaknesses into their strengths? And if the case, how much effort did it cost and how much fulfillment did it really bring? And how much beauty of your core quality got lost on the way?
How did you first become interested in positive psychology? What was it that drew you to the discipline?
John Bax: I got acquainted with positive psychology during the psychology lectures at the Teachers Training College in the Netherlands. It was the second year of existence of this new college, which had new and very progressive ideas how to teach pupils of secondary schools. They focused very much on discovering interests, preferences and qualities of the pupils and ways how to tune into them in a classroom situation. And I can still remember the credo of my Psychology professor which is pretty much a cliché nowadays: „You don’t have to be ill to get better”. Moreover we had to study Maslow’s ideas intensely who already used the term Positive Psychology in his book „Motivation and Personality”. And the biggest boost I got when I followed the Master NLP Trainer Certification Training in Cheltenham together with a group of good professionals from 32 different countries and cultures. In this very intense training of 24 days containing a great mixture of the scientific and applied psychology approaches, Positive Psychology was one of the main themes.
What have you found useful about positive psychology in the work field? How about the personal life?
John Bax: The most useful thing is that it sharpened my senses to notice the good things of people better and faster. And that helps me enormously to support them to become more effective, productive and feel more fulfilled. To support them in collaborating better with colleagues, even if they don’t like each other so much. To support teams to use each others potential better. To help them avoid or handle conflicts. And to help organizations and teams handle better their collective pitfalls as part of developing their organizational culture.
In my personal life it helped me and my partner for example to handle much better our continuous and main source of our fights. She, being a lawyer, focusing on what is true, and me, being a coach, focusing on what is possible. Or in other words, her calling me a dreamer and me calling her a pessimist!