Canadian based business professor Laura Cole is the founder of Your Latitude, Canadian solution-focused coaching, and mediation practice, specialising in organisational culture development and change management. Her clients cover a wide range of industries and include academic departments, international franchises, not-for-profit organisations, and the health and financial sectors.
Laura is a sought-after international speaker known for her engaging speaking style and image-rich presentations. Laura has been featured on many podcasts as a thought leader in compassionate coaching, most recently on Living Fearlessly with Lisa McDonald, and Compassionate Mindset with Dr Nathan Regier. She was also the feature in the article Intentional Human Speaking published on the Thrive Global network.
Welcome Laura, thank you for coming on board with us, can you introduce yourself to us?
Thank you for your interest in Your Latitude. I am the founder of Your Latitude, solution-focused coaching, and mediation practice specialising in organisational culture development and change management. Through this work, I have created the Intentional Human keynote series where I speak at conferences and associations about how to build more intention into their organisation’s culture, and the impact this can have on retention and performance. I am also a business professor at a leading college in Ontario, Canada.
Can you talk us through the path you have pathed to where you are now as an international keynote speaker, coach and founder of Your Latitude?
Picture someone who graduated on the Dean’s List with a 4-year honours degree from a prestigious university, then went on to win multiple awards for research and leadership while completing graduate work. Where do you picture this person working three years after graduation? What kind of role would they have? Well, unfortunately, three years after graduation I was unemployed because I had just been fired from my dream job.
I tell this story in my keynote Intentional Human because unfortunately, I don’t think my story is terribly unique. I see professionals all the time with such incredible potential but for one reason or another, they are unable to harness their potential, or leaders who see potential in others but have no idea how to encourage this growth.
I went on to work in corporate for several more years before I founded Your Latitude, and one place was an exceptional organisation with great culture and supportive leaders. I immediately felt the contrast to my previous experience and the idea was born that great culture and supportive leaders might just be the ingredients to help encourage and nurture potential.
So I founded Your Latitude so I could help other organisations become intentional about their culture and leadership so they could create spaces where people flourish and thrive. The name Latitude was inspired by the dual definition (1) latitude: being a specific spot or destination (a goal) and (2) personal latitude: the freedom to challenge personal norms and create something new.
Your Latitude started as a coaching and mediation firm, then quickly grew to include speaking engagements at conferences and associations. I love the opportunity to speak at conferences to tell great stories of transformations, and I always share new strategies and techniques with the audience.
How are you helping professionals to discover their latitude and lead with intention?
There are many reasons people get stuck acting without intentional, but two scenarios that continually stand out for me are:
Default Patterns: We all have a set of default patterns and habits that have been reinforced over time, and sometimes we continue to rely on those habits even if they no longer serve us, simply because we don’t know a different way.
Performative Behaviour: this is how I describe someone playing the role of “leader” but they aren’t really sure what that can actually look like – they carry on playing the role of a leader without any intention as to what that means to them.
Using solution-focused methods in one-on-one coaching, team workshops or collaborative strategy sessions, I help professionals reach past default patterns or performative behaviour and envision a future of their own creation. Much of my work is also accomplished through group mediations where professionals experiencing conflict are supported in co-designing a preferred future.
Off-site, I have teamed up with a local ranch to offer equine-assisted-learning. This experiential experience invites the participants into truly unique interactions with their coworkers while working with the horses and presents the ideal environment to challenge barriers, improve communication and build trust.
It was very important to me that my methods were compassionate and honoured the lived experienced that my clients bring with them to the session. My intention in coaching is not to go back and “fix” their past, but with very intentional methodology help them honour their past and design a different future.
Can you share with us a particular highlight of your career so far?
One part of my coaching practice is working with individuals on performance improvement plans, one step away from losing their job. I will never forget one manager, we’ll call him Jim, who worked in a stressful manufacturing plant. He was on the verge of a breakdown and was about to lose his job. We worked together in an intensive coaching program and he made such an incredible turnaround he was promoted within a year of completing the coaching.
Jim is my highlight.
Now, whenever this organization has someone in a similar position, they simply call me up and say, “we have no idea how you do it or what you do, but we have another manager who needs you!” They refer to me as the manager-whisperer.
A business growth highlight was being invited to speak in Bermuda for the Bermuda Human Resources Association on creating intentional workplace cultures to elevate retention and performance.
How are you working towards your own personal development?
One of the biggest things I have done recently for my own personal development was switching my practice over to solution-focused. For over a decade I practised in root-cause analysis, then one day a family friend was talking about solution-focused therapy and how there was also solution-focused coaching. I looked into it and immediately realised this methodology lined up perfectly with my values and coaching style. I immediately enrolled and worked hard to switch my practice over to solution-focused.
I am also a Business Professor at one of the leading colleges in Ontario, Canada. I took on this role because I am a lifelong student and love learning and expanding my mindset. Being in the classroom with students energises me, and also challenges me to stay current and relevant in the business field. I love this continual development.
I am also working on an MBA in Global Leadership through the University of Fredericton, Canada. This has been an exceptional experience as my classmates are from all over the world.
I attend conferences and professional development workshops as a participant as much as I can. I love being in the audience and not always the one on the stage!
Number one rule in business you stick by?
Slow down. Managing a business experiencing a hyper-growth stage there are so many competing priorities, decisions to be made, colleagues to have critical conversations with. My default personality is to tackle things quickly and directly, and I know this is not always the best approach. I have taught myself to slow down and take a breath. In those moments when things seem urgent and timing is critical, those are the moments I actually need to slow down the most. Slowing down allows me to act with intention and purpose and helps me make better decisions.
What are your preferred marketing methods for Your Latitude?
Hiring a coach or a conference speaker is a personal decision – there needs to be a fit. So I have found my preferred marketing methods are ways that allow my potential client to experience me first. I am very active on LinkedIn and Instagram and this helps potential clients get to know me on a more personal level, and I love engaging with the public on these platforms and meeting new people there. Being featured as a guest on podcasts is another great way as potential clients can listen to me and get a feel for my coaching and speaking style.
And then, of course, nothing substitutes great service for marketing your brand. The majority of my clients are from referrals.
Can you share one pro and one con of running your own business?
One pro is autonomy. I love the flexibility of reinventing Your Latitude every few years to respond to the changing environment, new generations, new challenges facing leaders, and running my own business I am able to pivot and adapt quite easily.
A con would be that we can all suffer from the self-saboteur, and there are lots of things about running your own business that can cause the saboteur to take up long extended stays! I have a very supportive network of friends, family, and colleagues and I have to remind myself to lean on them and ask for help when I need it.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean?
Be your own author. Something that I say to my clients all the time is this: “If it’s always everyone else’s fault – your coworkers, office politics, a bad boss – then too many people are in control of your future. You actually want this to be about you so you have some control over the outcome!” I encourage them to write themselves back into the story, not for blame, but for hope. If they are authors of the story then they can rewrite the ending.
Finally, what are you working on next?
I am looking into a few opportunities for collaboration. There are so many exceptional leaders in this field – Karin Hurt and David Dye of Let’s Grow Leaders, and Nate Regier of Next-Element – and I am talking with them about collaboration. I am also focusing on speaking opportunities so I can continue to share these great transformations and strategies to organisations around the globe.
Listen the podcast on Living Fearlessly with Lisa McDonald https://cms.megaphone.fm/channel/livingfearlesslywithlisamcdonald?selected=CSN1000996151