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Portia Tung on Coaching, Playful Leadership and the Importance of Play at Work

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In this podcast recorded at QCon London 2019, Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Portia Tung from the School of Play about agile coaching, helping individuals and organisations adopt a playful leadership style and the importance of play in the workplace.

Key Takeaways

  • Being a coach is learning to become your whole person so you can enable others to live at their full potential
  • The characteristics of playful leaders are they take calculated risks, they look after their people and are results focused
  • True Play is fair play, safe play and being a good sport even in tough
  • Playful leadership is a collection of tools and techniques that enable you to adopt a playful mindset, even when under pressure
  • There is scientific evidence that laughter IS a great medicine

 

Show Notes

  • 00:43 Introductions
  • 01:18 Exploring the genesis of agile coaching – XP has a role of XP Coach, Scrum has the Scrum Master
  • 01:50 An agile coach needs to be a methodology expert
  • 01:57 The range of skills includes consulting and mentoring
  • 02:18 Coaching is a very different skillset, opposite to consulting
  • 02:24 Coaching is non-directive, supporting the client to make their own decisions 
  • 02:46 The confusion about the roles has been allowed to perpetuate because there is a perception that a coach can be paid more highly
  • 03:24 Portia’s professional coach training experience
  • 03:31 “Who you are is how you coach”
  • 04:01 Being a coach is learning to become your whole person so you can enable others to live at their full potential
  • 04:11 The skills needed for professional coaching include listening, empathy, communication, building trust
  • 04:21 The importance of establishing the coaching contract – offering coaching, not doing so by stealth
  • 04:39 Coaching requires caring about others
  • 04:48 If you don’t like people you probably shouldn’t try to coach people
  • 05:07 The key to coaching at an executive level is being truly congruent in yourself
  • 05:18 Exploring how leaders are seen and perceived in an organisation vs how they behave
  • 06:03 Characteristics of playful leaders – they take calculated risks, they look after their people and are results focused
  • 06:28 How playful leadership can be misunderstood when conveying bad news
  • 07:14 Playful leadership evokes skills around risk-taking and creating a safe environment
  • 07:22 True Play is fair play, safe play and being a good sport even in tough times
  • 07:32 Tools for playful leadership include Real Options thinking, negotiations skills
  • 07:57 Playful leadership is a collection of tools and techniques that enable you to adopt a playful mindset, even when under pressure 
  • 08:12 It’s a lifestyle choice – follow your passion, know your personal values and use that as a compass
  • 08:38 Using play science to enable people to experience multiple intelligences, different ways of learning
  • 08:53 Examples of different intelligences in action
  • 09:22 We still continue to judge children and adults by just one style of intelligence
  • 09:26 Portia’s ambition to bring play science and play intelligence to schools, the workplace and to families for the betterment of society
  • 09:51 Why playfulness matters and how people often react to the ideas
  • 10:15 The time in our lives when we develop and grow the most are when we play the most, probably up to about 7 years old
  • 10:44 At around age 7 most children stop singing in public and become self-conscious
  • 11:02 Play as a catalyst and sharing experiences of playfulness in an unplayful environment
  • 11:32 Change happens one person at a time
  • 11:52 Play and work are not opposites – play leads to creativity and innovation and joy
  • 12:10 Work gives us purpose and competence
  • 12:23 The literal translation of the Cantonese word for work (san-yee) is “Meaning of Life”)
  • 12:38 The responsibility to play well and to work well at work
  • 12:58 Play evokes many emotional reactions in people
  • 13:20 People who did not play enough between the ages of 0 and 5 may have a brain that is 30% smaller than those who did
  • 13:50 The need to challenge the perception that work must be serious because it’s dangerous
  • 14:29 Answering the question – how to help organisations become more humanistic
  • 14:38 A playful culture has to come from the top and from many levels in an organisation
  • 14:48 A playful culture allow us to make mistakes without finger pointing, allows for learning and is like being in a playful family
  • 15:08 A playful culture depends greatly on its leaders (at every level)
  • 15:28 To nurture a playful environment leaders need to play more themselves
  • 15:36 The need to rediscover how you play and what you enjoy
  • 15:48 Make time to play – play more, play with friends, play how you like
  • 16:05 They key to play:  as long as you enjoy it, it doesn’t harm you and it doesn’t harm others and you have a sense of wellbeing at the end of it
  • 16:21 When you’re playing you’re curious
  • 16:28 Neurological research which shows that when you’ve engaged the “curious part” of your brain you cannot feel anger or hate towards another person16:44 How Portia brings playfulness into teams she works with
  • 17:02 Some of the benefits from play at work
  • 17:12 Play as a vital part of our wellbeing
  • 17:24 Examples of playfulness in meetings
  • 17:33 Advice on bringing games into work
  • 18:10 The shortest distance between two people is a smile
  • 18:27 A smile if often all it takes to know if someone is well-intentioned
  • 19:00 Laughing releases hormones that dampen pain, and then releases hormones that promote healing
  • 19:21 Laughter IS a great medicine

Mentioned:

About QCon

QCon is a practitioner-driven conference designed for technical team leads, architects, and project managers who influence software innovation in their teams. QCon takes place 8 times per year in London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Beijing, Guangzhou & Shanghai. QCon San Francisco is at its 13th Edition and will take place Nov 11-15, 2019. 140+ expert practitioner speakers, 1600+ attendees and 18 tracks will cover topics driving the evolution of software development today. Visit qconsf.com to get more details.

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