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Who I Am

In the simplest terms, I'm a person who passionately believes the answers are always in the room. Through my coaching and consulting firm, Real­time Perspectives, I work with organizations and individuals to create the appropriate context for those answers to surface. I guide local, national and global clients to reflect deeply on where they want to go ­­ and help them say aloud what's getting in their way.

Whether I'm working with emerging leaders or an executive team, I'm a coach, consultant and collaborator who credits my success to an amazing 20­-year career at Steelcase, Inc. There I was inspired to create my "real-time" approach to leadership development by successfully engaging senior leaders in immediate and ongoing development activities as they grappled with current business challenges. This created a solid foundation for culture transformation and renewal. These days, I'm using my signature ability to connect with professionals at every stage of their career to create the next generation of confident leaders.

What I Believe

My consulting practice is grounded in the principles associated with Adult Development Theory, which suggests that, regardless of family background, intelligence, age or job title, how you know about the world is as critical as what you know about it. In other words, your assumptions and filters determine how you assign meaning to the world and your role in it. The theory defines this as your "meaning­making system." Also underlying the theory is the notion that in order to change what you do, you must first change what you think. So when your meaning-making system inhibits your ability to achieve your professional aspirations or find satisfaction in your work, my role is to help you "unpack" what's in your system and help you reframe it.

I integrate Adult Development Theory across my consulting practice because I have seen how the framework, thoughtfully applied, accelerates the discovery of (sometimes previously hidden) beliefs that limit rather than expand your potential. I believe in developing specific strategies that support you in stepping back, reflecting and thinking outside of yourself before assigning meaning to an action or event. By using this process, I'm able to help you shed the dangerous assumptions and filters that are making you feel dissatisfied, overwhelmed or undervalued.

What I Do

As founder and president of Real­time Perspectives, Inc., I have coached hundreds of established executives and rising leaders locally, nationally and internationally, serving more than 85 clients, including Fortune 500 corporations, educational and health care institutions, professional service organizations, government and nonprofit agencies, and young entrepreneurs. Some are tasked with facilitating extremely complex global public­private partnerships; others face performance challenges that keep them awake at night. From all of them, I hear the same, universal complaints:

  • I’m too busy
  • I’m burned out
  • I'm paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake
  • I feel isolated
  • I feel trapped
  • I can't find a balance in my life
  • I can’t stay focused on my priorities
  • I wish I didn’t have to micromanage
  • I feel like I need to prove my value or I'll be passed over
  • I’m worried my weaknesses will be exposed
  • I inherited my personnel; no one is “my pick”
  • I have to keep up a façade or I’ll look incompetent
  • I deal with too many embedded cultural constraints
  • I'm afraid relinquishing control might lead to failure, missed deadlines, profit loss

I approach and solve all of these complex challenges with you. Through my multi­step process, we'll identify your current management style, assess where coaching will serve you or your team best, and then map out strategies for success. And whether you're in the C­suite, on a leadership team or in your very first supervisory position, my real­time approach means I'll give you tools and resources you can begin using immediately for measurable, accessible results.

My Background

Certifications

  • Certified to teach the Immunity to Change™ coaching process, alongside its authors, Dr. Robert Kegan and Dr. Lisa Lahey of Minds at Work (Cambridge, MA)
  • Certified by The Leadership Circle to deliver several leadership and organizational culture 360° Assessments; the most prevalent is The Leadership Circle Profile™
  • Certified by the Hay Group to administer the Emotional Competency Inventory™ 

Facilitator and Guest Lecturer

  •  “Leadership Advantage” and "Leadership: An Inside­Out Perspective," custom-designed for the Center for Community Leadership, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids, Michigan 
  • Coach Certification Program: Becoming an Immunity to Change™ Coach,” Minds at Work, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • “Organizational Culture,” Graduate School of Education, Western Michigan University, Grand Rapids, Michigan 
  • “Immunity to Change™," Executive Integral Leadership Program, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana
  • “Immunity to Change™," Lookstein Center, Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Education

  • BA in American Studies, Douglass College, New Brunswick, NJ; elected to Phi Beta Kappa Society
  • MS in Rehabilitation Counseling, Boston University, Boston, MA

Board Positions

  • Advisory Board, The Keynes Centre, Cork, Ireland
  • Board of Directors, Paws With a Cause, Wayland, MI
  • Board of Directors, Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, MI

Books

Immunity to Change by: Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, Harvard University Press 2009

  • Recognition for role in providing "preparation suggestions" for Chapter 10

Helping Educators Grow by: Eleanor Drago-Severson, Harvard Education Press 2012

  • Recognition for role as author’s "coach" in the Immunity to Change™ Coach Certification Program

Journal Articles

Efficacy of Immunity to Change Coaching for Leadership Development, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Inna Markus, Sage Publishing, 2016, Vol. 52(2) 215-230

  • Recognition for role in "masterful delivery" of Immunity to Change™coaching to the client group identified in the study
Client Testimonial

For several years, as a part of MGMT 6170: Managing Human Resources and Behavior, Barbara regularly facilitated a session to help participants learn about the need for aligning organizational culture to its business strategy. Her engaging and interactive sessions always resulted in participants learning simple, practical content (the Competing Values Framework) that they could begin to apply immediately. Barbara is a thinking person's facilitator.

Dave MacDonald; Former Faculty; MBA Program: Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University
Grand Rapids, MI
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