This month we are featuring Instigator Ann Van Eron, founder and principal of Potentials, a global executive coaching and organization development consulting firm. She is the author or co-author of several books including her latest, Oasis Conversations: Leading With an Open Mindset to Maximize Potential.
Ann studied psychology at Georgetown University and has a doctorate in organization psychology from Columbia University. Her post-doctorate work in individual and group process is from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. She is a certified Master Coach with the International Coach Federation. She is certified as a somatic coach with the Strozzi Institute and is a co-active coach with The Coaches Training Institute. She considers herself an avid learner and has studied many areas including mindfulness.
After college, Ann worked with a group that provided workshops and coaching. She then worked with a Fortune 50 company and learned how to manage and lead areas, eventually becoming a corporate officer. She founded her consulting firm, Potentials, when she started her doctorate. She worked with teams and supported organizations in creating inclusive and respectful cultures. She expanded to offering executive coaching and teaching others to be coaches. Ann tells us, “I have worked all over the world with a wide range of organizations offering leadership and team coaching, organization development and leadership development. I love the work and making a difference.”
The best moments in her career have occurred due to the leadership program she developed based on the OASIS process for open-minded conversations. Ann shares, “I have facilitated the program all over the world and taught others to facilitate the coaching based program. People have shifted in how they interact and have said their lives are better. The first time I was in a different country working with a multicultural group teaching the program, and influencing the organization, I knew I was doing my life work. I continue to be excited by the work.”
When asked about a leadership lesson Ann learned from her first job, Ann replied “I started work in my early teens and learned how to work with a diverse group of ages, styles and ethnicities. I became a manager and trainer and learned how to work with everyone.”
We learned from Ann that a rough start to a job interview can end up having a positive outcome. Her explanation: “I was interviewed by a cross functional team of employees who were appointed. They asked me if I could help to get the management team out. I suggested that we focus on creating dialogue. Otherwise a precedent would be set and it would be costly. I worked with them and facilitated open minded dialogue. The culture shifted and it was a rewarding project.”
The best advice she’s ever been given was the paradoxical theory of change which involves noticing the current state and being with what is. This stance with compassion supports being with resistance.
On the topic of the most important qualities in leaders, Ann believes that leaders need to be self aware and aware of the needs of others and the environment. She goes on: “Leaders should identify compelling visions and offer support to others. They need to be authentic and focused on being of service. They need to be strong communicators and to recognize success.”
Ann thinks students in school should learn the skills of empathy, listening, finding common ground and agreements. By doing so, they would enhance their awareness and ability to live and work with others.
When asked about books she has found most helpful for her professional life, Ann replied, “It is hard to identify one, so many have been critical. Daniel Goleman’s books on Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence have been inspiring. I also appreciated the practical nature of Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
When asked the most creative solution she’s ever seen to a problem in life or work, Ann replied, “I have seen amazing shifts in teams and organizations when people can be open to ‘what is’ and assume positive intent. When people shift from judgment to curiosity and compassion, solutions become apparent. I see this effect when two colleagues have made assumptions about one another and when there is similar strife between functions.”
When asked what hashtag she would apply to her life, Ann offered several suggestions, including #OASISConversations, #OpenMindset, and #AssumePositiveIntent. To find out some of the others, why don’t you start a dialogue with her via her Twitter account, @annvaneron?
One of Ann’s favorite quotes is “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
When asked “if money were no object, what would you do all day?” she responded, “I would share the open mindset and skills for impactful conversations to leaders, coaches, families and students. With compassion and curiosity and dialogue, many challenges can be addressed. I love what I do and I would work to expand the impact.”
Of her involvement in Lead Change, Ann says, “As an organization development and leadership development consultant I am interested in thought leadership to support leaders and organizations. I learned from colleagues that LeadChange is a great resource. Some of the authors and change experts that I respect are a part of the group.”
The group is all the better for having you a part of the community, Ann. We are grateful to have you among us!
Editor’s Note – You may ask, “How does one get chosen to be a featured Instigator?” The answer is simple. If you are already an Instigator, fill out this form and continue to engage with the Lead Change Group on a regular basis. If you are not yet an Instigator, sign up. There are many benefits to being an Instigator – email us if you want more information.
Previous 2016 Featured Instigators:
10/2016: Will Lukang
8/2016: Susan Mazza
7/2016: Mike Henry, Sr.
6/2016: Mary Schaefer
5/2016: Kevin Eikenberry
4/2016: Chip Bell
3/2016: Eunice Parisi-Carew
2/2016: Chris Edmonds
1/2016: Marcella Bremer