LifeStyles Inventory and Transformative Learning Experiences

Submitted by Dr. Teal McAteer, University Professor and Consultant.

In my more than 20 years as a leadership and career transition coach, I have worked with hundreds of displaced business executives. My experience working with these executives, along with my experience teaching at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business have demonstrated the need for transformative learning experiences among our present and future corporate leaders. My philosophy is that in order to make changes in behaviours, instructors in post-secondary institutions need to move beyond purely intellectual knowledge transfer.

Four of McMaster University’s programs utilize Transformation Learning Experiences (TLEs) in their Leadership courses. I not only facilitate, but have also specifically designed the curriculum for these courses. They include: a Leadership Coaching course within the EMBA program; a Leadership Coaching Foundations course within the MBA program; an upper year Leadership Development course within the undergraduate Commerce and MBA programs; and a Leadership Coaching course within the Integrated Business & Humanities (IBH) program. In varying degrees, they all use these TLEs to focus on the relationship between learning and sustainable personal/professional change.

The goal of any business school should be to produce graduates who enter the workforce and are able to make key strategic decisions and initiate change within their industries. Business schools must therefore focus on the market-readiness of its graduates. By growing its leadership education components that encourage students to fully understand self-thought and resultant behaviors, these more progressive business schools would be helping to build more authentic leaders for the future.

Human Synergistics’ LifeStyles Inventory (LSI) provides the foundation to successfully coach all of my students to make significant and sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives. The students complete the LSI, measuring their thinking styles and become “aware” of thoughts, behaviours, feelings — many of which are unhealthy and unproductive. Students are then asked to prepare a self-reflection and 6-week action plan in which they define what thoughts and behaviours they wish to change and how they will go about changing them. A second critical reflection piece following the 6-week period, allows students to walk through their transformative journey and learnings. Students describe the experience as “life-altering,” “revealing,” “a professional development opportunity leading to profound growth,” and “an individual leadership experience absolutely necessary before attempting to lead others.”

Bottom line —- I use the LSI everywhere and with everyone! It has allowed me to connect with hundreds of people (clients and students) and provided the foundations to successfully coach all of them to make significant and sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives.

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