In January 2023, we at MagnoliaTree had a special team meeting. For the most part, we played with Lego®. Now you may find that inappropriate or childish. We don’t. Because we used it to work on our direction, our strengths and weaknesses as a team, and most importantly, our vision for the year.

Last year, our employee Elke Pichler took the training to become a Lego® Serious Play® trainer and accompanied us during our meeting. The method is not only fun, it brings interesting insights that are wonderful to build on.

What is the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method?

The goal of the Lego® Serious Play® method is to transform “lean backward meetings” into “lean forward meetings” that lead to more participation, more insights, more engagement, and ultimately more commitment and faster implementation.

The method is a facilitated thinking, communication and problem solving method for organizations, teams and individuals. It draws on extensive research from the fields of business, organizational development, psychology and learning and is based on the concept of “hand-knowledge”. As such, it is much more than a mere gimmick.

The fundamentals of the Method

To better understand the Lego® Serious Play® method, it is important to know the fundamentals of the method.

  • Leaders don’t have the answers to everything.
  • The success of leaders is based on hearing the voices of all employees.
  • People inherently want to contribute, be part of something bigger, and take responsibility.
  • Too often, teams work suboptimally because the knowledge of many team members goes unused.
  • We live in a complex world. More sustainable and successful companies are created when every member is given the opportunity to contribute and express themselves.

The Lego® Serious Play® method is not based on any new or groundbreaking science, but on findings from action research and a number of other existing scientific disciplines.

The beginning of Lego® Serious Play®

The story of the Lego® Serious Play® method began in 1996, when professors Johan Roos and Bart Victor of the Institute for Management Development (IMD) developed the concept and process of the method to give leaders the opportunity to describe, create and challenge their view of their company.

The Lego® Serious Play® method developed into a consulting method that is now successfully used by companies such as Daimler Chrysler, Roche, SABMiller, Tupperware, Nokia and Orange.

At the same time, Johan Roos and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the CEO of Lego®, founded the research department of the “Imagination Lab,” a Swiss think tank that published 74 research papers, numerous journal articles and four books between 2001 and 2006.

If you have stopped playing as an adult, you should start again now at the latest.

The 4-day week

Why change might make sense

According to a survey by Deloitte[1] 22% of millennials plan to quit their jobs because they are dissatisfied with their work-life balance. Never before has it been so important for a working generation to have a work-life balance. This makes a focus on this matter all the more important. If this is not taken into account, it will have a huge impact on talent acquisition and employee retention. After all, work-life balance and personal well-being are already more important to Generation Z than they are to Millennials. Paid time off and mental health days are essential for them.

“The Millennial generation has a different set of values than the generations before it. We are moving toward a post-material economy. People value intangible experiences more than money, and they need time for those experiences,” says Benjamin Hunnicutt, a professor at the University of Iowa who studies work and leisure.

This societal shift is not entirely surprising, given that the “standard” of work has changed repeatedly over time and the 8-hour workday is not an inherent “law of nature.” Let’s take a look at history.

The arrival of the 5-day, 40-work-hour workweek

Until 1908, the 6-day workweek was the norm. Only on Sundays could the workers take a rest day. Then, in 1908, a mill in the U.S. changed its system to a 5-day week because its employees, most of whom were Jewish, asked to be allowed to keep the Sabbath on Saturdays. This example was followed by many other companies. In the 1930s, the 5-day week was finally introduced across the board. The new work week with five days and 40 hours was also intended to combat unemployment.

In Germany, the development of the 5-day week was due to a regulation for factories in 1918, which was introduced under the leadership of social politician Ferdinand Hanusch and enshrined in law in 1918. At that time, however, it was still the rule to work up to 60 hours per 5-day workweek. In the following years, working hours were successively reduced: on February 1st, 1959, from 48 to 45 working hours and, from 1969 to 1975, gradually to 40 hours per week.

The 4-day workweek put to the test

The 4-day workweek is not a spontaneous trend in the business world. It has been tested or introduced by several companies. Microsoft Japan, for example, tested the concept in the summer of 2019 and found quite positive results: productivity increased by 40 percent as a result of the 4-day work week. Iceland has been studying the effects of the shortened working week in detail in a large experiment since 2015. The first test run involved up to 2,500 workers. In the second test run, more than 400 people participated, starting in 2017.

Iceland’s five findings from these test phases

  • Performance and productivity have remained constant with the 4-day week.
  • Overtime did not increase excessively compared to the 5-day week.
  • Conversion to the 4-day week is not as burdensome as feared.
  • Employees took less sick leave overall compared to the 40-hour week.
  • The 4-day week meant that many employees used their free time (more) wisely.

After the trial was completed, Icelandic unions and associations negotiated permanent reductions in working hours. Overall, about 86% of the total Icelandic working population now has the right to reduced working hours.

The benefits of the 4-day week at a glance

Increased motivation and health

Employees have longer recovery periods. This provides a great boost to motivation and can increase the willingness to work overtime on the four working days per week. Working time is used productively, and superfluous time wasters are usually eliminated. The three days for relaxation in turn have a positive effect on health. 

Employees have more time to sleep in, pursue hobbies, or spend time with their families. This has a positive effect on mental and physical health, and illnesses can be better cured or even prevented during the 4-day work week. Sickness-related absences are reduced as a result. A study by Henley Business School[2] shows that in companies that have introduced a four-day workweek, more than three-quarters of employees (78%) are happier, have less stress (70%), and take fewer sick days (62%).

The free working day can be used sensibly and without downtime in companies

If a visit to the doctor or the office is due, or if the car has to go to the workshop, the working day freed up by the 4-day week can be used for this purpose. This means that employees will not be absent from work.

Companies become more attractive to job seekers

The 4-day week has not yet become generally accepted in the labor market. Thus, companies can positively emphasize this offer when looking for employees and appear particularly innovative and flexible. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employers said that introducing a four-day week has helped them attract and retain talent. [3] In addition, the 4-day week increases employee retention, as employees are less likely to quit due to the increased work-life balance.

4-day week increases productivity

As mentioned above, Microsoft was able to demonstrate a 40% increase in productivity during the test phase of the 4-day week in Japan. A New Zealand trust company switched to a 4-day work week and saw a 27% decrease in work stress, a 20% increase in productivity, and a 45% improvement in work-life balance.[4]

The 4-day week has a positive impact on climate and gender equality

UK workers estimate that they would drive on average just under 900km less per week, resulting in fewer transport emissions. [5] Applied to the entire globe, the four-day week thus appears to be a promising weapon in the fight against global warming. A study by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, predicts, “If we spent 10% less time working, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 14.6%, largely due to less commuting or reaching for high-carbon convenience foods during our breaks. So a full day off during the week would reduce our carbon footprint by nearly 30%. [6] But it’s not just the climate that would benefit.

A switch would also have a positive impact on gender equality. A recent report argues that it could help women by sharing childcare responsibilities more equally between women and men. It would also enable greater flexibility for parents to use their extra day off to run necessary errands and take care of other family matters, allowing them to be more focused and productive during work hours.[7]

Are there any disadvantages?

The primary disadvantage stems from the industrial age mindset that work doesn’t get done when employees aren’t physically present on all 5 days a week, and that essential customer relationships could suffer as a result. But with COVID and the rise of remote work, we’ve learned that the ability to get one’s work done successfully doesn’t necessarily hinge on a round-the-clock presence in organizations. The biggest challenge is in the mindsets of managers. It’s not about working less or the decline in work ethic. It’s just about a different way of thinking about work.

The shift to a 4-day work week. How it can work.

Switching to a 4-day workweek needs good preparation. It cannot work overnight.

  • It needs a good transition phase. Appropriate time must be planned for this.
  • Employees need to be involved and a common strategy needs to be developed to make the 4-day week work.
  • Good external communications are needed with customers and business partners.
  • In many industries, a sophisticated shift system is needed to ensure that service, production, and availability continue to be guaranteed within the working week.
  • Managers should lead by example and also work only four days per week.

The introduction of the 4-day week does not automatically have to be accompanied by a reduction in working hours. There is both the 4 x 10-hour and the 4 x 8-hour model. Which model makes sense for companies has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. After motivation and productivity are increased by a 4-day week, a reduction in working hours may well be possible.

At MagnoliaTree, we give a lot of thought to the work-life balance. We offer our employees flexible time and work models, and we feel it’s a win-win situation for everyone.








Those who persist will lose

Leading in crisis 

This article appeared in an abridged version on

In Chinese, the character for crisis is made up of two parts. The first can be translated as danger, the other as opportunity. We find both qualities in crises. Not all crises are opportunities, but more than we think. 

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor Frankl

When we recognize that in all of life’s struggles we are empowered and not helplessly at the mercy of fate, valuable perspectives and options for action can emerge. 

Why it is more important than ever for leaders to engage in crisis management

Leaders have a responsibility to ensure the well-being and continuity of the systems they lead. This duty weighs heavily, but you can prepare accordingly in advance. Believe me when I tell you that you already have everything you need for this within you today. For sure, you are much more crisis-proof than you suspect.

Make a list

  • Which life crises have you already overcome?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • What have you learned?
  • How do you transfer what you learned to the here and now? 

The World Economic Forum (WEF) conducted a survey[1] in 2022 to survey global risks. Respondents included academics, leaders, government officials, civil society individuals, and thought leaders. The WEF report covers human suffering, societal disruption, economic shocks, environmental degradation, and political instability. The climate crisis and its ecological consequences dominate the WEF’s list. Even more, nearly half of all respondents (41.8%) said they see the outlook for the next three years as constantly fluctuating with many shocks.

It is important to know the difference between crisis and risk management. In corporate practice, the two portfolios overlap. While risk management focuses on how to prevent threats, crisis management focuses on developing action plans for responding to emergencies and executing those plans. 


The 5 essential elements of crisis management can be summarized as follows

Identify, avoid, and/or minimize risks and threats

Developing contingency plans

A wide range of current information and news must be used. Networks can carry and give good impetus. 

Testing the contingency plans

Effective execution when needed

Crises put leaders to the test

Crises separate the wheat from the chaff. They test leaders on their leadership skills, creativity and resilience. These skills cannot be learned from a guide or manual. In many ways, successful crisis management for leaders is an intense examination of themselves and the challenging acquisition of necessary skills.

Leaders need confidence in themselves and others 

Leaders must be role models within a group, be the rock of the group and make their decisions based on facts. Above all, this requires self-confidence. At the same time, they must be less likely to overestimate or underestimate themselves, they must know where their limits are, what they can take on themselves and when they need to hand over tasks. They must be able to take over, but also to let go. To be able to do this, they need to have a stable personality that can trust in themselves and others. 

2 Leaders must be empathetic

Good leaders must have a good sense of their team and recognize what team members need, especially in times of crisis that trigger uncertainty and powerlessness. Empathy is not a nice-to-have, it is a strategic imperative that must be an indispensable leadership quality even away from crises. Empathy is a key driver of innovation, engagement and inclusion. Recent research[1] shows that cultivating empathic leadership is one of the most important strategies for responding to crises. An empathic leader shows (caring) concern and understanding for the circumstances of his or her employees. 


Leaders must foster creativity

Creativity is the key to getting through a crisis and reorganizing after a crisis. In order to be successful through severe crises Leaders need to discover and use the creativity of their employees. Leaders need to rethink their ideas of what creativity means in order to foster it. Creativity is universal. It is part of being human. Creativity involves the use of our individual imaginations, the ability to share ideas and interpret the world around us. Promote a culture that reinforces diversity. People want to hear others’ ideas so they can inspire or sharpen their own. But above all, encourage your own creativity. Paint, tinker with a model train, do a puzzle and let your thoughts run wild. Creativity expands the scope of action and allows ideas to mature like an incubator, promotes associative thinking and relaxes.

Leaders must (be able to) communicate

Especially in times of crisis, it is of particular importance for leaders to communicate with everyone at all levels. Clearly, calmly, factually. It is also possible to communicate what is still uncertain or in the decision-making process. Especially in uncertain times, your employees want to know what is coming up and it is reassuring to know that you are actively dealing with these problems. A “I don’t have an answer yet, but I’ll give you feedback as soon as I do” is more confidence-building than beating around the bush or not talking about it at all. Also address your concerns and fears: What is negative, what is interesting, what is a positive benefit from the situation? 

Leaders must remain calm

Crises narrow our field of vision, be reinforce prejudices and selective perception of the world. To deal with crises emotionally, our brain tries to simplify as much as possible. The catch? Our room for maneuver becomes narrower. Neuroscientists call this effect “predatory fear”: the less threatened we feel, the more room we have to think through scenarios and act strategically; the more threatened we feel, the less room for action our brain allows. Without our active intervention, we react reflexively, are less creative in finding solutions to problems than under normal circumstances, and explain the world to ourselves more simply and as we like it, but not more truthfully. Therefore, it is important for leaders in threat scenarios to inform themselves more broadly than usual, to be open to facts and other perspectives. And: Leaders should focus on meditation and mindfulness exercises especially when everyone around them is acting in panic. Meditation sharpens skills such as attention, memory, emotional intelligence, social awareness and, most importantly, the inner calm that leaders need to manage crises.  

These skills cannot be acquired in a weekend workshop. They require intensive work with oneself, time, patience and, above all, lots of practice. They are not skills that leaders should only pull out of their first aid kit when an emergency occurs. They are the basic skills of great leaders that should be used even in the calmest of winds.


Terms and Definitions for DEI

The dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion is broad and growing. This introduces the need for common vocabulary to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Words often have different meanings; depending on lived experiences words might hold different meanings for different people.

For this reason, we have created a video to clarify important terms regarding DCI to help better understand and use them correctly.


By Sabine Gromer

Happiness is an attitude toward the journey of life, not what you find at your destination.

That’s what happiness researcher and best-selling author Shawn Achor writes.

But what is happiness? And most importantly, how can we be happy and so, as researchers have proven, be 31% more productive than people who go through life with a negative or neutral mindset?

Happiness = a quality-of-life-increase

Happiness research, also known as positive psychology, has been dealing with the topic of happiness for years. Positive psychologists ask themselves how people, who are content and inwardly balanced, deal with difficult situations. What tools do such people have, and how do they manage to see a glass half-empty as a glass half-full? The answer, that ‘making’ happiness requires more than mere affirmations. You can’t achieve a positive attitude by chanting down “I-think-I’m-happy” mantras. Save yourself the trouble, happiness needs more.

The Pie Chart of Happiness

A study from the US found that about 50% of life satisfaction is due to genetics and 10% to external circumstances. Now, in the remaining 40% is the potential to manage our quality of life actively.


Happiness is associated with lower heart rates and blood pressure. Happy people get sick less often, are better protected from stress because they release less cortisol. They are less prone to pain, dizziness, muscle tension, and heartburn, and overall, live longer. What’s more, happiness makes you successful. After all, with a positive attitude – as mentioned above – we are a whopping 31% more productive. Yet it doesn’t have to be “natural” happiness. We know that “experimental reinforcement” of positive emotions also equates to better results at work. People who are happy with their jobs are less likely to quit or take sick leave. In this regard, happiness and job performance are closely linked: happy people do better work, and people who do good work are more likely to be happy.


The science is clear. We can increase our happiness levels by taking specific actions.


A list of my personal favourites for boosting happiness levels

Connect with people.

A Harvard University study conducted for over 80 years explains that interpersonal relationships are fundamental to happiness. This makes it all the more important to nurture your interpersonal relationships. Surround yourself with people who make you feel supported and loved. Nothing is more effective at increasing happiness.

Do good to others.

People who do good for others significantly increased their sense of happiness. So-called “random acts of kindness” – such as helping an old woman cross the street, giving someone a gift, etc. – lead to an increased release of oxytocin and dopamine, which boosts life satisfaction.

Use your strengths.

Find out what your strengths are – for example, using the CliftonStrengths Finder, and try to use them every day.

Gratitude Exercises.

Create a gratitude jar that you fill with notes and mementos of beautiful moments. Empty it at the end of a year and stick the contents in a book.

Practice mental hygiene.

Think for a moment about what helps you feel good. For me, it’s a piece of chocolate, nice music, or an episode of Pumuckl. Use these things to avoid descending into the deep valley of unhappiness and separate yourself from over-work.

Vision board.

At the end of each year, I create vision boards about how I want to feel in the new year. This strengthens inner alignment and provides moments of happiness.

Allow feelings.

Don’t push your feelings away – even if it can be hard to live through them now – you will feel better in the long run. So, allow them.

We are not born happy. We cannot buy happiness. But we have happiness in our hands, and we can shape it to lead us through life successfully. Work on it.

Good luck.

Read the full article

New employee Administration & Project Management

MagnoliaTree has grown considerably over the past few months. This is of course extremely gratifying, but it has not been without some stumbling blocks. The previous office management was unfortunately not up to the challenges of a growing organization and so we had to start looking again for a suitable person for this very responsible role. Fortunately, we quickly found what we were looking for. We would now like to introduce the new office management team to you. 

Sarah Pirchner MA

is now supporting the office team as of April 1. Due to a still valid employment contract, she will only be able to do this to a limited extent until the end of May. From June on, she will take over the office management, all administrative tasks and project management. Sarah was most recently a speaker and training coordinator for a European airline, holds a master’s degree in mediation and conflict management and a diploma in tourism management. She has already successfully managed offices and worked as an executive assistant in the past. We are very confident that Sarah will enrich the team spirit at MagnoliaTree with her many skills and her communicative personality. 

As of June 1, Sarah will be available at the email address [email protected]

Meet Sigrid Eghøj

Sigrid is based in Copenhagen and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, furthermore she has studied business economics while working in farming for the last two years. Working mainly with sheep at a wool mill she is a hands-on type of person. She received an award as the Danish Organic Farming Student of 2021.

She will be joining MagnoliaTree in Austria throughout the summer to assist Elke in the journey to develop the Academy.

Fun fact about Sigrid, she prefers swimming in the winter, when there are less people at the beach.

Prominent women in leadership

throughout the 20th century

Illustration by Daliana Ilies

Article by Daliana Ilies

Now more than ever, we need to talk about the revolutionary women of the 20th century that achieved an enormous deal for women’s rights and, of course, how we came to celebrate International Women’s Day. I am not a historian, nor am I an expert in this field. My information comes from a place of curiosity and hours of research on the topic. Besides that, I am a woman myself, trying to understand why we are where we are at this point; and, hopefully, learn how we can reach our goals as a unity.

Please take a second to close your eyes and try drawing some imaginary pictures of a fifty-year-old woman living in western Europe around 1900. Saying she’s not ordinary would be an understatement. Now imagine a Marxist theorist, communist activist, and most importantly – an advocate for women’s rights. Maybe by now, you’re asking yourself, how are you supposed to visualize that?! Those are character traits, not physical ones. But picture a woman being part of the Social Democratic Party in Germany at that time.

Clara Zetkin

Her name is Clara Zetkin, and she was probably one of the very few women allowed in such a male-dominant political circle. She started holding conferences to discuss women’s issues, and by 1907 she organized the first International Conference of Socialist Women in Stuttgart, Germany. Her primary goal was to get women into the workforce in order to take part in the worker’s rights organizations. This way, they would have the means to improve their own conditions.

This started a trend. Almost at the same time, the US declared the first women’s day on February 28, 1909, and the streets of New York were packed with women protesting for better pay and working conditions.

1910 a second International Conference of Working Women came together. At that time, over 100 delegates from across the world met in Copenhagen. Zetkin pushed the idea of international women’s day, and the vote was unanimous, meaning they finally had a day when women could organize and press for equal rights.

Even more interesting, some other revolutionary ideas discussed at the conference were:

  • 8 hour working day;
  • pregnant women should stop working 8 weeks prior to giving birth;
  • women should be paid a “motherhood insurance” of 8 weeks if the child lives.

If you think about it, these are also the ideas that heavily influenced the views of maternity and paternity leave that we know today in the most developed countries.

Rose Schneidermann

The first-ever European celebration of International Women’s Day happened in Vienna in 1911. Only a year later, more than a million women took to the streets in Germany. And the trend continues in America, being sparked this time by Rose Schneidermann, who insists workers need more than just wages to survive; they also need dignity and decent working standards. With the first world war approaching fast, many countries decide to cancel the holiday to maintain peace on the homefront. To oppose the war, Zetkin organized the 3rd and final Socialist Women’s Conference in 1915.

Present there was Nadezhda Krupskaya, which you probably never heard of. But I’m pretty sure you heard of her husband: Vladimir Lenin. The couple stated that the war only benefited the rich and the weapons manufacturers. Sadly, the war went on, despite all of their efforts.

Alexandra Kollontai

1917 the most dramatic celebration of the IWD started in Russia, led by the feminist Alexandra Kollontai. Why?

The number of women working in the factories, mainly in the textile or chemical industry, has skyrocketed because men were in the war. The women replacing them were paid only half as much, even though they worked long hours under horrific conditions. Storming the streets of Petrograd on February 23 or in our calendar on March 8, women struck against war, starvation, and the Czar. Two days later, nearly every industry in Petrograd had ground to a halt. The protest wasn’t just women or even workers anymore. Students, teachers, and so many more joined them. The Czars responded by ordering the military to shoot them if necessary. But the protests couldn’t be stopped.

I am remarkably moved and inspired by these women because they had managed to convince whole regiments to switch sides and join them. They went on the streets, risking being shot at and killed. And this was the beginning of the Russian February Revolution, and it was truly women’s day that inaugurated that. But we don’t really learn about this in school, do we? One week after the “celebration”, Czar Nicholas II abdicated, ending about 300 years of Romanov Rule over Russia.

They became one of the first governments of a major power to grant women the right to vote. 1921 it was officially decided that March 8 would be International Women’s Day. Lenin and Zetkin made this a communist holiday in 1922, and the same year the communists in China started celebrating it too. Eventually, all of the progress was destroyed by Stalin in 1936, banning women’s right to vote and even more than that, for example, banning abortion. Being concerned even at the thought of communism, the US erased this day entirely.

Lilian Ngoyi

Even though South Africa celebrates IWD 2 times a year and has its differences from the European celebration, I have to include one more fearless woman: Lilian Ngoyi. Also known as the Mother of The Black Resistance, Ngoyi was the first woman elected to the executive committee of the African National Congress, helping to form the Federation of South African women. Her energy and her gift as a public speaker won her rapid recognition. On August 9, 1956, (one of the dates when people in South Africa celebrate IWD), she led the women’s anti-pass march, one of the largest demonstrations staged in South African history. Holding thousands of petitions in one hand, Ngoyi was the one who knocked on the Prime Minister’s door to hand over the petitions. She ends up arrested for high treason along with 156 other leading figures.

Now here we are, 2022, and as women we earn less than our male equivalents; we are underrepresented in politics or business. Most scarry, we still suffer  significant risks of violence, and many times, women have to handle family care alone. I want our generation to stand up and continue what these lionhearted women created, achieving the freedom we all deserve in all aspects of life.



What is Coaching?

By Elke Pichler

We as coaches are biased, our attitude towards coaching is subjective. We are convinced of
the potential of introspection and reflection. At MagnoliaTree, coaching is THE central instrument of what we do. Highest quality standards, ongoing evaluations and trainings and a long-term cooperation are our focus.

However, because coaching as a field is confusing and diffuse, we decided to write anarticle on the definition and delimitation of coaching. We wanted to create a guide to help those seeking coaching navigate their way through the field.

The demand for coaching is increasing, especially among those facing challenges in their role as a leader. Thus, the number of coaches is also on the rise. People looking for a coach often turn first to the internet.

Although demand is increasing, the quality standards of coaching remain a sensitive subject. There is still too little evidence of the professionalization in the industry. In many ways coaching is something of the Wild West. “Coach” is not a protected term, not a qualifying profession, and largely unstandardized. There are countless training institutes and options for training coaches with a wide margin of quality. This makes the field of providers nearly asinfinite as it is opaque.

So where to start? Isn’t the definition of coaching not already clear?

Is it still coaching if more than two people are involved? Is there any difference between trainers and coaches? Wouldn’t supervision make more sense? And what do people who call themselves coaches actually do? Or rather, what should they at least be able to do? And how can I recognize the quality of a coach?

The Origin of Coaching

The term coaching was coined in sports: athletes are supported and accompanied by coaches, either individually or in teams. This support is both technical and psychological,
helping athletes to perform at their best in moments of intense pressure. The coaches are experts in their field and are usually active (or were active) in the respective discipline.

In the 1980s, coaching outside of elite sports began to take root. But it was not until about 20 years later that it became a real trend and a significant increase in empirical research on the
subject emerged. For example, between 2003 and 2008 there were no less than five new journals in the English-speaking world on the subject of coaching.

What Does Science Say About Coaching?

Siegfried Greif describes coaching as a particular form or a “method of person-oriented consulting.” The task of a coach, according to Greif, is to provide support and personal advice in finding solutions or coping with various issues. Not to offer solutions, but rather to encourage individuals to find their own solutions. The goals of coaching are therefore rooted in problem solving or the further development of competencies or attitudes. From a scientific perspective, coaching is also multifaceted and exhibits a high degree of heterogeneity. It is an individual and tailored form of consulting, which is adapted by coaches to the changing needs of the counterpart. For this reason, coaching should always happen on a voluntary basis. Those unreceptive to feedback, will gain nothing from the process of coaching.

For many researchers, coaching is a subset of positive psychology. Positive psychology being the brainchild of Martin Seligman, thought up during his role as president of the American Psychological Association. The popularity of positive psychology was driven to prominence by a special issue of the journal “American Psychologist” in 2000.

The central goal of positive psychology was and is to explore how people live satisfied and successful lives, and what actions enable them do so. Utilizing this definition of positive psychology, coaching can be viewed as one of these actions. Employed to both strengthen satisfaction and increase motivation.

What is the Minimum Requirement to be a Coach?

The requirements for coaches in German-speaking countries have hardly changed over the
last few years.

Walter Schwertl sees coaches as having several roles. To Schwertl, a coach is an initiator, a motivator, and a pacemaker for a communicative process. Their task it is to help clients achieve success in their respective field. This “success” is to be achieved through intrapersonal processes accompanied by coaches.

Especially in the area of executive coaching, coaches are in great demand as “impulse givers.” They are valued in their ability to act neutrally and always maintain a relationship of equals with their coachees.

Whereas in middle management, coaches function more as navigators, providing orientation and guidance for self-help. At all levels, a coach-coachee relationship built on authenticity, partnership, trust, and responsibility is crucial for successful coaching.

Our Personal Checklist for Successful Coaching

The Coach …

  • … is ready for a free initial meeting.
  • … is transparent about the trainings and training directions (ideally a coach is trained in different directions).
  • … has several tools of the trade.
  • … offers coaching that is more than mere pedicure and not a subscription, but individual and effective. Therefore, package pricing should not be offered. It is difficult to estimate in advance how long the process will take. Sometimes one coaching session is enough.
  • … should offer coaching that can be terminated at any time, because a deep coaching
  • … process needs trust, freedom, and security. If the relationship with the coach is disturbed, there should be no obligation to continue the process.
  • … provides information on how he/she prepares for the coaching (ex. how does he/she follow up?)
  • … provides a written confidentiality statement.

Which topics are most frequently addressed in coaching?

In the last Marburg Coaching Study in 2016/17, the following 5 topics were mentioned most
frequently by clients to coaches:

MagnoliaTree‘s guide to the appropriate method

We at MagnoliaTree see it as our task to find, together with our coachees, the most effective a method for their given problem. In doing so, we always keep the desired goal in mind. If our client’s goal is to increase their quality of life, we often choose coaching. When it comes to increasing the quality of work, we rely on supervision. And when it comes to pure knowledge transfer, we use training as our method.

Workshops designed and conducted by MagnoliaTree are never just mere training or knowledge transfer. There is no ready-made seminar or lesson that we pull out of the drawer and reuse countless times. Rather, we are concerned with collaborating with clients to share existing knowledge through social learning, taking into account group dynamics From our experience it is more successful in the long term to learn from and with each other instead of being overloaded with a wealth of theoretical knowledge in a short time. We see ourselves as impulse-givers and framework creators for dignified change processes. Through our methods, one realizes knowledge is not only transcript, but a felt and lived experience.

All interventions must touch the heart for us to utilize them. They must be an experienced. They must enhance the quality of life. Immediately and in the future.

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