This month’s Coaches@UBC feature, we meet long time External Coach with Coaching@UBC – Brian Fraser, who is also the Lead Provocateur of Jazzthink
Tell us about your role with UBC
I have been an External Coach since Coaching@UBC began offering 1-on-1 Coaching Services in 2004 when the program started. Prior to launching Jazzthink in 2002, I spent 17 years as Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall, the Presbyterian College on the UBC campus, and taught history at Vancouver School of Theology. My particular interest in the history of the church was leadership and organizational development.
How did you decide to become a coach?
I completed the Royal Roads program as part of the 3rd cohort in 2002. Coaching was still in its early days, but I found its focus on curiosity, positive possibilities, realism about barriers to success, and collaboration in professional and personal development a provocative mix. Coaching is about being a thinking partner with people as they play their best, then play above that (to borrow a phrase from jazz great Miles Davis).
What does being a leader mean to you?
It’s not so much about being a leader – a heroic loner who makes things happen. That’s a recipe for over functioning and burnout. Rather, leadership is a collaborative relationship. It happens when people create space for authentic interest in a common purpose, positive encouragement of the gifts of others, and genuine support for everyone’s creative contributions to the organization. The skills of coaching – curiosity about aspirations, optimism about possibilities, attention to strengths, creativity with barriers, and heartiness in moving forward – are, in essence, the skills of great leadership. I have been enriched in my understanding of both leadership and coaching by connecting their practices to the art of jazz.
What are some of your favourite things?
In the field of Leadership: Frank J Barrett, Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).
Who is your favourite author?
My favourite author, in a completely different field, is Marilynne Robinson.
What is your favourite movie?
The Shawshank Redemption.
Thanks for your time Brian!
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