Meeting Miriam Binder-Lang

Miriam talks about the merits of letting go of the idea of being an 'expert' and the power of sharing with vulnerability in the face of uncertainty.

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What do you really enjoy about your work that you’d like to share with others?

What I deeply enjoy about my work with RISE clients is that I never quite know what will come up and how I’ll be challenged. The learning I may engineer into a workshop day usually turns out completely differently. I am constantly surprised by the creativity of clients in their ways of hearing what I offer, of learning from the exercises and practices. The fact that we never take a pre-designed programme into an organisation, but that engagement starts with listening and sensing into what is most needed is invigorating and stretching. I have skin in the game, I am just as vulnerable in the workshops as the clients in their development. And honestly, the coolest move is when we adjust the agenda on the fly because something even more relevant has emerged from the work the clients have been doing just a few minutes earlier.

What has been your biggest learning experience in the past few years that has shaped the way you approach your work?

I left the corporate world approximately 5 years ago in order to train as a coach and I felt like I had finally arrived in the work I was really meant to do. From the corporate world, I took the notion that expertise, planning and control are essential for tangible success - this was really the only definition of success I had. So I thought that in order to be a great consultant and facilitator, I needed to be an “expert” facilitator. And, oh why had I lost 20 years in the industry when I really should have trained more as a facilitator, mediator etc… My stroke of insight came when I joined a RISE retreat with a client. I realised that my corporate past was actually the preparation that I needed for being a great consultant. I had facilitated meetings all the time from within the system, I could see patterns of behaviour and knew how they could get in the way, along with many other things. So my learning was this: being able and ready to use my skills, talents, experiences in the moment, without questioning if I am expert enough, is the most necessary capability for the work I do.. and maybe also for life in general

What got you interested in this work, what continues to motivate you, and what do you wish you had known earlier?
Note from the Field: Miriam
What got me interested was the idea that I can help teams get to a place that I would have personally loved to get to during my management roles in the corporate world. I tend to think that what we do is training the super-power of squandering less human energy in useless conflicts so that people enjoy work more AND they have more energy left for all the other parts of their life. Seeing this happen over time, sensing how a group is transformed after a 2-day workshop experience keeps me motivated to step in and be vulnerable again with the next group.

What I wish I had known earlier is that I do not need to have it all figured out, that my passion for people is not my most vulnerable spot, but my biggest strength. Also, I need much less effort to move things along if I give up pushing!

What do you find valuable about this RISE community? How can we continue to improve the way we bring consultants together?

This community is a place to grow and develop safely. To shape my sword by being critical and being criticised and challenged, because this is why we are together. The challenge has nothing to do with the challenge in an executive job. It goes to a deeper, much more existential level and allows for so much human growth, because it leads me to question long-standing beliefs that aren’t helpful, neither in work nor life. RISE for me is a place to grow together and to build amazing programmes for clients.

Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, my most hilarious situation with a client team. This was last week - some of my client team members are in a quite stressful state - as am I. Yet, often they believe that because I’m the coach, I have it together all of the time… And so we have this workshop, and I had a good idea (during the night) that I could print some additional support material. At 5 am I realised that I had run out of paper. So, I handed them their material printed on the back of my kids' school maths problems. The moment they understood that I am sometimes just as much and as authentically a mess, brought us closer (and we had a good laugh). And whilst I would not choose this as an intentional, planned move, I still feel that it was what a RISE consultant does. Be human, be vulnerable and be OK to sometimes be a mess (even if we don't enjoy it).