Season 2, Episode 26

Welcome to the Coaching Studio Podcast

This podcast features fun, lively conversations with masterful coaches who are creating an impact. Get to know them, their journey into coaching, and discover what wisdom they would offer you about being a better coach.

Let’s go!

Please welcome to the Coaching Studio Dr. Antoinette Braks, MCC

the Coaching Studio Guest

I am very excited to welcome Dr. Antoinette Braks, MCC to the Coaching Studio Podcast.

Credits

  • Host: Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC
  • Music: Frolic by Harrison Amer
  • Production Editing: Lyssa deHart
  • Social Media and Communications: Michele Logan

About This Episode

I am looking forward to introducing you to my guest today Dr. Antoinette Braks, MCC. Join us as we take a walk through her Coaching journey.

Antoinette is a Master Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation. She states, “Particularly from a coaching point of view, we guide leaders, and leaders shape our world. We are behind the scenes, but simultaneously we can play a huge role because we can affect so many leaders.”

Dr. Antoinette Braks (Ph.D., MCC), is the author of Executive Coaching in Strategic Holistic Leadership: The Drivers and Dynamics of Vertical Development (2020). She founded the global StageSHIFT Coaching & Consulting Community. They specialize in Transformative Coaching in Vertical Leadership Development to the advanced stages of Synergist and Alchemist. Dr. Braks offers the StageSHIFT Coaching Certification Program, and the VHLP Certification Program – the VHLP is the Vertical Holistic Leadership Profile. It’s a capability-based Vertical self-assessment for senior executives. StageSHIFT coaches partner with strategic leaders through the StageSHIFT Vertical Leadership Culture Program proven to inspire, co-create, and accelerate a quantum vertical shift in consciousness, leadership culture, human systems, and our socio-economic foundations, so life flourishes in a more sustainable, healthy, equitable, joyful, and peaceful world.

Read the transcript of this episode of the Coaching Studio Podcast:

Lyssa

Hello, Lyssa deHart here and welcome to the Coaching Studio. Today, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce Antoinette Braks, is an MCC with the International Coaching Federation as my guest here today on the Studio. Antoinette, thank you so much for being a guest today. I really appreciate you showing up.

Antoinette

Oh, you’re so welcome. It’s a delight to be here. I’m looking forward to. Yeah, I’m having a chat together.

Lyssa

Yeah. And it was a little bit of a rough start given that I lost electricity. But you know, we’re navigating the waters of uncertainty, in the moment. So thank you for being so patient with that. So as you know, I really want to get a chance to and have the listeners get a chance to get to know who you are as a person. And sort of that journey that you’ve made is an to MCC, um in your own coaching process. What led you into coaching and made that something that you were interested in?

Antoinette

I think I was led into it quite naturally, to be honest. When I was about 30 I discovered a sense of inner purpose about people realizing their potential and I called my first company Realize. And really it was all about that. And later in my career I was with Korn Ferry About 10 years later to be honest. And there wasn’t involved a lot of management assessment which automatically lead into the development of their leadership coaching practice. So you know, everything just kept on building one after the other and you know, yeah, 50. When I was 50 I started to devote myself to executive coaching exclusively, um I got into vertical leadership development and I loved it um did a PhD to really explore it and you know that’s that’s really my love is part of my life Mhm

Lyssa

Yeah, you know it’s so interesting how everybody has that sort of journey that brings them to coaching. And and I think you know what I’m hearing you say is that you got into it and then there was a deeper dive that really happened as you really explored more fully leadership. what did you discover around leadership that was so I don’t know, captured your imagination and your passion?

Antoinette

mm we depend on leaders to create our world and I’m probably coming to your answer from a thinking perspective where I am now, rather than when I was there. because then you just sort of follow the breadcrumbs, right, have aspirations go get that would be good and off I go. But I think particularly from a coaching point of view, li I mean we guide leaders and leaders shape our world, we were behind the scenes really. But simultaneously we can play a huge role, I think because we can affect so many leaders. And if we can have more leaders stepping up in terms of translating the chaos, we’re in today and create a better world for us, that that’s the most critical thing, I think we can do in the world today.

Lyssa

Yeah, and I absolutely agree. I remember having a conversation with another coach one time and she was mentioning you know, the work that she was doing within organizations, it impacted so many more lives than if she were working one on one with an individual. Not that that isn’t epically important, but just the exponential um capacity for change within an organization when you’re working with leaders. So I really appreciate that. When you began coaching and I mean I am going to ask you to maybe kind of go back and Mr Peabody’s Way Way back machine when you first started coaching towards today. How is your perception about coching shifted through the years?

Antoinette

I think it’s shifted a lot from being a service provider to being a partner. With your client organization or executive coachee. Um I think we’ve underestimated the impact we can have as coaches. And a lot of coaches struggled commercially in order to really stabilize their business and I think that affects us as well. So somehow rather because we’re on the outside looking in it’s a challenge for us to step up and really partner. So literally be leading co-leading co-creating with the executive coach. I also think our executive coaching methodologies need an upshift too. So we we do it we do at Stageshift we do something called transformative coaching. As opposed to developmental coaching. It’s also called third generation or conscious coaching and it just puts the subject matter between the coach and coaches. So the coach holds the “we space” and also generates ideas and insights through their later stage vertical capacity to facilitate growth in the mindset of the coaches. Whereas a developmental coach will ask open clear questions and most of our I C E M C. C. Are still sort of caught there. But I think there’s an upshift for us as well.

Lyssa

Can you speak more about that upshift? Like what would a question look like? I mean in that may be too difficult to sort of um kind of create a little scenario, but what what would that look like if you’re working with a leader and you’re in this um third generational space?

Antoinette

I think I think the difference is… well there’s quite a number of differences that I’ll start with a couple of them um with a developmental coach coach, you’re honoring the person to come up with all their own resources, use all their own resources to find their own answers right? In transformative coaching, your your diet, you’re using more diagnostic skills to identify underlying recurring patterns and then present them from a psychodynamic point of view to the client. We go, oh yes, because now they can see what they couldn’t see before. So it’s bringing the consciousness of the coach more into into the space.

Lyssa

Oh I’m sorry, I’m interrupting you, say that again.

Antoinette

Therefore they can access also a deeper sense of their own sense of in a truth.

Lyssa

Yeah, I really appreciate that because I mean what what I’m hearing is also that sense of, you’re looking from you have a different lens in which you’re seeing a space that is between the coach and the client that the client may not be able to see at all because they’re so immersed in the forest. Um and you know, it’s that capacity of the coach too bring their informed curiosity into the space. Um if I’m hearing you correctly?

Antoinette

yes, I would say that and also their sense of what’s going on in the inner world, of the executive, your coaching. Because our life experience manifests as a result of who we are as in terms of our self-expression and self-awareness, it’s our life experience so we can shift our life experience by cultivating ourselves. So we look at both systemic of the coachee, but as well as the self of the system in terms of shadow resolution. Aspirational intent and all sorts of things that go beyond your everyday reality to really starting to use consciousness to mold your world.

Lyssa

That’s that’s really it’s such an interesting concept and I absolutely am um I love the idea that you’re presenting. And I think that that really is a shift that is happening in coaching, where we’re really bringing more of our, whether it’s somatic, sor energetically, we’re noticing things from more um a broader lens I guess for lack of a better way of saying it so that we’re not just asking a simple question. But we’re actually this, it may still be a simple question, but we’re also bringing in our own experience of the moment, even in the moment that we find ourselves. Is that is does that have, is that connecting with what you’re talking about? Or is am I missing the mark bit?

Antoinette

Yeah, well, just just a tiny bit, I mean, we do bring our experience and everything into play, but the more absent we are as a coach, right, the more present we are for the coachee. So it’s actually, so I think it’s diagnostic in terms of the psycho dynamics, it’s looking at the source of the challenges and emotional triggers that are coming into play to heal. Because when we do the fourth person perspective from a vertical point of view to become a sinner. Just, we have to do a lot of personal shadow resolution and healing as well as a really big inter systemic, um we’ve got to step up onto a bigger stage. And a lot of executives are, you know, a little bit shy of doing that, because there’s a career risk and all sorts of other things that are at play. So to actually support that, you know, step up and self shadow resolution um that that really shifts the goalposts.

Lyssa

How does that impact? I mean, so, you know, you’re a new coach and you’re coming into coaching and you’re you’re now sort of hearing that the that the landscape is shifting on, what is possible with coaching. How how do you see that impacting people’s um evolution as a coach themselves? Like what’s required of them personally in order to be able to, from your perspective, like get into these shadow spaces with the clients that they’re working with?

Antoinette

they have to do it for themselves first, so they need to invest in their own vertical holistic leadership development. Um I used to read lots of books on psychology and realizing your potential and Jung and all that sort of thing to really appreciate who we are as we evolve in the world so that we’re not just dealing with the challenges in our lives, but we’re actually evolving as we’re shifting through in terms of our own journey. So, you know, that’s more than your standard coaching training. That that’s all about self-investment.

Lyssa

Yeah, and and I really appreciate that because I think um you know, I think it’s one of the things that we don’t ask of coaches, and I don’t think we even ask it of counselors and therapists and psychologists, and and so I’m a social worker. um it isn’t necessarily mandatory that we get um self-reflective work and a self-reflective process where we’re really exploring ourselves. And I agree with you until we have started to have the capacity to hold that space for ourselves, it’s very difficult to hold it authentically with anybody else.

Antoinette

You just can’t

Lyssa

Yeah, you just can’t.

Antoinette

don’t have the compassion or, you know, you can’t hold it for another person if you can’t hold another person’s pain because you’ve resolved your own because it brings up the pain, then you can’t, you’re not a healing instrument, you’re actually, you know, so you have to be so if you’re a young coach, take your time. But keep on going in terms of your own vertical development

Lyssa

Yeah and get coaching more than just solution-focused coaching, but rather insight-oriented coaching so that you can work on those things to to your point, you know, somebody brings up something painful that’s triggering to you as painful. You don’t want to have that transference of your pain onto them and not be able to hold the space. Absolutely, yeah, I think that’s just I think it’s just a really important developmental step if we want to be able to create, create a space that allows for sustainable changes. Also, because if we’re not dealing with what’s under under the current right, then then we’re just dealing with actions and results, which don’t necessarily have a sustainable change attached to them. Because we default back to what we know. For you personally, as you look at your own coaching journey, what has been the biggest challenge for you in your own journey?

Antoinette

I think it’s the continual self-evolution. When you when you put yourself into an evolutionary space by setting some sort of aspirational intention to contribute to serve the world in some way. Um you’re you’re you’re in constant play. And it means you you step out of the commercial reality of okay, I’m doing things for income and just ensuring that I’ve got my budget, my income covered and all that sort of thing. And my family and my friends, you’re actually moving into being an instrument of evolution. And that means you become instrumental in your own evolution. So that can take a lot of courage. You’ve got, you know, it can take a lot, you get huge challenges you need to surrender ultimately. So your path you take is just more challenging. But I also believe that as we are, I have experience that as we evolve our life experience also becomes more effortless. We were not so much are doing, but we’re more becoming and then we become a being. Where things happen through us and as us. So there’s a lot of work getting there, but with the support and guidance of people to help you, um we can become awfully who we are

Lyssa

Beautifully said and and I do agree with you. I mean I think the challenges that we have to overcome our fear. And so so many human beings have these internal narratives that are less than useful I guess, for lack of a better way of saying it, and that end up really stopping us from being willing to go into what might potentially be an uncomfortable place or painful place. So yeah, that courage is so important, I think that you mentioned.

Antoinette

I’m glad you said courage there because there’s also a boldness about it. There’s a boldness about challenging our clients to step up. Yeah, by saying, you know, there’s sustainability outcomes that we’re not addressing. Let’s look at those, there’s there’s an empowering and liberating of the workplace that we need to because of their strategic leaders. These are the sort of things are responsible for. And a lot of them don’t see themselves as accountable for culture for instance, Whereas they are accountable for the culture and their organizations. And you know, bringing the people engagement up to over 80% is absolutely doable. Let’s start rising to that. So for coaches to be bolder in almost challenging their client executives and client organizations to really step up. Particularly now, particularly now with all the chaos going on in the world. I mean it’s a we’re gonna we’re not gonna thrive if we don’t.

Lyssa

Right, and I mean and I think that that courage that that really equates into that boldness. I heard a coach once say I and I honestly, I don’t remember who it was who said this, but they said be willing to ask a question, you might get fired for. Like be willing to ask these bolder questions and and that takes a developmental courage evolutionary courage that you explore these places where you can, I mean they talk about even in the the competencies that you kind of offer lightly, like you’re not super attached, you’re gonna ask the question but you’re not super attached to the outcome of the question in the sense that it’s being willing though to ask the question. And I think the other piece of it to your earlier point, if you haven’t done the work, you don’t know what the question is to ask.

Antoinette

No, no, it’s right. You can’t yeah, you can’t guide someone over terrain, you haven’t already explored. And in fact once you’ve done that terrain yourself, you can see the signpost that they can’t see. And you say, hey, you know, there might be a challenge there down the road or you know, look out for this abyss, You don’t want to fall in there,

Lyssa

it’s about to get bumpy.

Antoinette

Um and and there’s also the boldness of the executive leader to start to transform their system. You know, we get from self to system and then the complex adaptive system that into systemic reality. So to start operating as the system to re engineer it, that again, is what a coach can really help with. Um not simply doing developmental questions for the executive, but addressing their organizational imperatives in terms of evolving there as well because you know, even moving to the four day work week in the virtual space instead of the workplace, it’s going to require more empowerment, which means more letting go, which means different types of systems to support the team coherence. So all of that needs to be brought into play I think and can be done so through coaching, I think even more effectively than consulting.

Lyssa

Yeah, well, and that’s interesting because as you were talking, I was thinking, you know, speaking to all the consult the coaches who are out there who really want to be able to tell people sort of this is what you need to do and they have the experience of being an executive themselves yet. They haven’t necessarily done this evolutionary work that you’re talking about. How does that then just keep I mean, how does that then impact the coaching relationship? From your perspective?

Antoinette

more like a mentor than a coach really, doesn’t it? More? Maybe even a developmental coach at a stretch rather than a transformative coach. So I think a transformative coach works at the deep levels of self and works on the organizational system as you know, as well as the person in terms of what’s happening to them day by day. So yeah, deeper, wider, broader,

Lyssa

I like what you said, “deeper, wider, broader. “.

Antoinette

Which means the coach needs to be really educated as well, needs to read about what’s going on in our ecosystems and our sustainability and our poverty gap and health and all these social economic issues if we’re not informed in those, we don’t understand the strategic context within which an organization is playing.

Lyssa

Mhm

Antoinette

becoming really informed, not just on our expertise as a coach, but on what’s happening in our world or the world of our coaches and organizations

Lyssa

Absolutely well. And that’s the piece that keeps it also like relevant is that we understand the systems within the systems within the systems and have a greater sense of understanding there. You know, one of the things that I’m hearing you talk about and I’d love to hear you elaborate on is really how do you keep yourself doing this continually? Like what is what allows you to be in the space of that self-exploration and the exploration of the world around you so that you can show up as a really a co-creative partner with your clients?

Antoinette

I think um I we at stage shift we have an architecture that I’ve developed over about Well probably 20 years. But anyway, it’s been distilled and fine tuned and something such as a visionary purpose that is aspirational, purposeful, visionary and having something like that embedded and embodied in your self awareness that facilitates life experiences that if you have to pay attention to what is happening and transpiring, you can direct and shape yourself, reshape or influence what was happening around you. So I think I’m in that constant radar, it’s there all the time. Yeah. So life shapes me in self shapes life. They become inter penetrative, you know, I don’t think most people realize the extent to which we can shape our lives by shaping ourselves.

Lyssa

Yeah.

Antoinette

Or reshaping ourselves or transforming ourselves. And that really throws you into the transforming mind where you’re you’re you’re consistently continuously transforming and inviting it, you know, inviting more, give me more.

Lyssa

back to boldness and courage.

Antoinette

You know, and I have various spiritual and other practices um that I do to continue to sustain that frequency of being in play.

Lyssa

Yeah, yeah. It is that willingness to be self-reflective on a regular basis and to constantly be testing your assumptions about the world around you and the people around you and yourself within the space. And um and I and again, I mean, I really going back to the words you used earlier as courage and boldness on the part of the coach with themselves before with their clients even is really, is part of that journey if I’m hearing you correctly.

Antoinette

Yeah. Trust whatever is arising that it’s arising for us to share. You know, this is assuming our ego is absent and ourselves is fully, you know, put away. And we’re just acting as an instrument for the coach. The self is an instrument for the coachee then to trust whatever is arising intuitively or systemically to share that in a really gracious way. So, being bold doesn’t mean being fierce, although there’s a sense of fierce compassion that I enjoy. Um, but but there is a sense of gracious invitation, you know? Wonder if? yeah.

Lyssa

Gracious invitation. Yeah. And I agree with you. I’m not using the word bold as in you need to be fierce but rather I love grace gracious invitation. But also maybe even it’s the boldness of stepping outside of your fear. You know, or at least stepping past the fear once you’ve assessed that the fear isn’t really telling you something useful like there’s a tiger right? Like okay, be afraid then.

Antoinette

Um we all need to transcend our own fears and because once we’ve done that we can enable the coachee to transcend their fears because they’re going to be fearful. When you’re asking you’re offering a very gracious invitation. It’s something that’s scary. I think. Okay. Yeah. You know, it’s putting them outside of their comfort zone so they need some frameworks and techniques to help them. I think that’s what we offer as well. But because otherwise you’re going in with a lot of career risk, so learning how to do what to do with some proven techniques can also really help your client organizations.

Lyssa

Yeah, absolutely, shifting gears slightly. I mean you strike me as someone who’s had a very interesting life. Um what is something we would never guess about you just by meeting you?

Antoinette

I think I’ve been informed by a couple of like big things and one I’ve been a single parent of three children from the ages of 13 and five and now they’re all around 30. So I think and you know, so that’s one now and I’ve traveled around the world continuously with them, in tow. So I’ve been a single parent and haven’t. that they haven’t been two parents just being one. Um, so I’m an international traveler and now I’m a digital nomad. I, I live out of a suitcase. I traveled to where the work is. I’ve been in Europe for the last three years since 2020, 2019. In fact, in 2020 I was set to go back to Australia but ended up staying here. So I’ve become free, to, to live my life and as fulfilling way as I can. Particularly now before I have become a grandmother, which will, you know, 5 to 10 years time that’s on the horizon. So I’m just making the most of who I am, you know, and I’ve been single for so long as well, which is sort of ridiculous. I think it’s because I have a very, um, very resilient spirit and a very strong spirit who is not prepared to compromise what I’m giving. And it’s taken me this long, I think also to resolve my own past to my own ancestral shadow and to move through that to just be who I’ve become today.

Lyssa

Yeah, yeah. And it sounds like a real comfort in like just the knowing of yourself and the being in your own skin.

Antoinette

Yeah, absolutely. Having an inner home as opposed to an outer home?

Lyssa

I love that digital nomad in her home. What is something that you would share one bit of wisdom that you might share with a new coach on maybe somebody wanting to become a masterful coach, whether or not it’s an MCC or not, as, you know, sort of not the issue. But but just really masterful in their own coaching. Is there like a first step that you would offer them?

Antoinette

Um, I would say to all coaches today, as I say to all leaders today, vertical leadership development is the fastest growing theme and leadership development. Because we need to go to the next level Einstein, you can’t solve the problems. So, all the problems we’re facing in the world today at the geopolitical instability, you know, all the economic crisis from the pandemic, the there’s so much, climate changes, so much going on and everything is interconnected. So I think I’d encourage every single person to invest in their vertical leadership development. And we offer vertical, holistic leadership development. So it’s brought more broadly into consciousness in order to for us, our people on the planet to rise. You know, because we need to transcend all these issues, embrace them and transcend them. And reset our foundations of society is I think it’s such a massive quantum shift and we’re starting to realize it, you know, education institutions, health hospitals, they haven’t moved for over about maybe 100 years, some of the technology has changed, but the way we manage it from an infrastructure point of view hasn’t. [Yeah. ] Yeah.

Lyssa

I think we’re really seeing that in the world today too that the systems don’t want to change and yet ultimately change needs to happen in order to move forward. What are you passionately involved with today?

Antoinette

Today today I over the last few years I’ve been developing a stage of global coaching community. We have about 50 coaches now um in all countries of the world including you know Russia, Ukraine, not Ukraine, Russia um Asia all over Europe. Um so all sorts of languages and all of them are later stage coaches at like at synergies plus, and all very experienced. So we’re pivoting now to client organizations and bringing our collaborative capacity together with online resources to lead transformation for strategic leaders and their organizations. Um so that that’s I’m still so passionate about that. I think I’ve got another good 10 years in me yet. So.

Lyssa

Yeah, well and the grand babies haven’t started coming in yet. So you still got some time.

Antoinette

Plenty of time. That whole sector will have to have to be um yeah, sequestered into holiday periods.

Lyssa

I think I got to find time for everything. Where can people find you when they’re looking?

Antoinette

I think I’m on Linkedin obviously, but on the Stageshift. coach website there’s loads of resources. There’s loads of articles you can get the first two chapters of my book there. You can find out all about vertical development there. It’s not just my stuff, it’s other other authors as well. So yeah and we have a state shift coaching certification program coming up in september and we also have a vertical holistic leadership profile assessment which is a great vertical leadership assessment all automated online for you know, client executives. So yeah, there’s lots of stuff there that people could go and have a look around at.

Lyssa

Yeah, I’ll be putting the links in the notes below so people can just easily find your website also. So as we move into closing today, um if you were writing your autobiography, what would you have the title of that be?

Antoinette

Mhm. I think it’s got something to do with Consciously Evolving.

Lyssa

Beautiful, beautiful Antoinette. Thank you so much for being on the Coaching Studio today. I absolutely appreciated this conversation. And again, just thank you so much for being the guest today,

Antoinette

Lyssa, thank you so much for having me. It’s been lovely. Thank you.

Lyssa

You’re very welcome

I hope you enjoy these lively conversations.

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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC

Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC

Host

Lyssa deHart ditched her therapy practice to become a Leadership Confidence Coach. Along the way she discovered a passion for professional coaching and wanted to find ways to share that passion with the world. Come join her in discovering and meeting some of the most amazing professional coaches on the planet. Her goal is to inspire coaches. Lyssa is the author of StoryJacking: Change Your Dialogue, Transform Your Life. She is an ICF PCC Assessor, Certified Mentor Coach, and budding Coach SuperVisor. Lyssa uses her understanding of the ICF Core Competencies, combined with her knowledge of Neuroscience, to work with people to become extraordinary professional coaches. Let's Go!

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