Joe Porteus of ilume Australia chats with performHR

Joe Porteus 10 min read

ilume partner, performHR in conversation with ilume Australia’s Joe Porteus

Joe Porteus, a partner with ilume Australia, catches up with performHR to talk all things business, coaching and their unique leadership developmental framework, MindSet28.

This article first appeared on performHR’s blog as a Partner Spotlight.

In a nutshell, what is ilume?

ilume is an organisation that is devoted to developing the world’s best leaders, achieved through an approach of executive coaching and leadership programs. Ilume is founded on the belief that no business can outgrow the mindset of its leaders. We are the solution to growing bigger mindsets for organisational leaders.

Or put another way: We are the people who can give organisations greater capacity with the same amount of resource.

How is ilume changing the way coaching is done?

Coaching in business has been around since the early 90s and I personally have been coaching for 16 years in this outstanding Australian market that has been constantly growing and expanding.

ilume is changing the way coaching is done via its unique approach which takes into consideration more elements of an individual. Coaching is well known as a behavioural tool, but at ilume we are no longer satisfied with the notion that this will provide all the answers to leaders of business in today’s more complex and ambiguous world.

Most coaching in the past and even today is based on behavioural change and coaching to change certain behaviours of a leader, but at ilume we think that is too one dimensional. Our leaders are made up of much more than just their behaviours! Our leaders are facing into greater uncertainty and can often feel as though they are in over their heads and are facing a developmental challenge of growing a bigger mind.

Consequently, ilume decided to take a different approach and in 2010 developed a robust, evidence-based coaching methodology that examines a person’s hidden dimensions that brings with it lasting development change and a recognition of a person’s true potential capacity for further growth.

We have been delivering this work in Australasia for over 7 years and have established a new paradigm in executive development that high performing organisations are talking about. Those who have worked with us tell us they have become smarter, more agile and ultimately have competitive advantage.

We have access to so much forward thinking knowledge at the click of a button.  Who is on your podcast lineup currently?

Myself and my partners have recently developed a strong relationship with Kim Scott, the founder of Radical Candor and a Wall Street Journal best author. She is currently at the top of my podcast list as I think the work she is doing around ‘having stronger conversations’ is incredibly empowering. It is really interesting to hear about the work she has been doing and the issues facing Australian organisations culturally because no one is having direct and caring conversations. Often we are having one or the other, caring or direct but very rarely both. Kim’s work helps change culture and prevents one of the biggest hidden problems in organisations; a lack of candor between managers and leaders.

I also love freeconomics especially when I am on long planes, I actually get disappointed when its not there. I love hearing smart people talk about smart things and simplifying it down into an entertaining way of viewing the world and how it debunks myths out there.

Bloomberg radio is also at the top of my list because it is old school radio but gives in depth stories behind the headlines. Because I work with leaders of many Australian organisations, its really important for me to keep up with current affairs from a credible source.

For leaders who might want to work with ilume – what should they prepare themselves for?

Prepare to be challenged – ilume provides a developmental tool that weaves together all the dimensions necessary for excellence in executive leadership and anyone coming on the journey is going to find out where they are placed right now in regards to how well placed they are to do the job.

All leaders must be prepared to commit to high performing change – it’s part of what you sign up to in accepting the role. The work with ilume develops the leader quantitatively and qualitatively so commitment over a period of time is essential, this is not a quick fix strategy to developing the best leaders.

Ultimately, particularly in the residential leadership program, they will see increased drive, greater self awareness, clearer strategic thinking and a path to long-term life balance. Instead of life balance and high performance business competing against one another, it starts to work in harmony. Clients who work with us say it’s simple – they call it awesome transformational change.

Those who have worked with us tell us they have become smarter, more agile and ultimately have competitive advantage. Joe Porteus

Partner, ilume Australia

What do you see as the biggest challenge for a startup business in Australia?

As always, it is capital and the smart use of capital. It’s important to plan your spending carefully and allocate funds toward purchases that will ultimately accelerate your business’s growth.

In my previous history of dealing with entrepreneurs – the ability to get out of working in the business rather than on it is always a challenge so generally you want to be focused on finding customers by differentiating yourself in the market.

Often a start-up’s only real asset is their entrepreneurial energy and whilst that doesn’t actually show on the balance sheet, energy and focus really is the glue that holds a start up business together. In my time of working with start up companies, it has been those that have protected this energy over the years that I think have been most successful.

ilume is Australasia’s only accredited and licensed ICC trainers. Tell me about what this point of difference means for organisations wanting to do things differently?

The International Coaching Community (ICC) operates in 67 countries and has over 13,000 certified coaches making one of the largest professional organisations for coaches in the world.

The ICC are committed to developing the coaching profession at all levels through a complete training system of the highest standards of quality and what’s best is that it has several quality awards (EQA’s) from the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, the global go-to body for coaching and mentoring

Whilst there are a number of global coaching accreditation bodies that we could partner with, it was our New Zealand colleagues who helped us understand the exceptional quality and robustness of the ICC program, having worked alongside them for 8 years.

Having been on the ICC programs myself, I believe it develops advanced coaching techniques that I had not experienced anywhere else, particularly with executive coaching techniques – coaching approaches and models that have helped me to offer my clients insights they have never gained before.

What is the difference between ICC training and the Ilume Mindset28 development?

Our ICC programs are for individuals or organisations that want to provide their people with specific techniques and a toolbox in coaching skills. We deliver a range of options from 1-day essential skills through to an 8-day international certification and we deliver specialized programs in team coaching and executive coaching.

Latest Forbes research shows that coaching is an essential management and leadership skill. Our programs strengthen the ability to apply this resulting in higher employee engagement with managers and leaders operating a listen and ask approach rather than push and tell. Many graduates from our programs tell us that it has an impact not only at work but also in their personal lives.

Let’s face it, coaching is an expensive intervention and not always guaranteed to work, so a number of the larger organisations we work with want their own internal managers and leaders applying coaching so that they don’t need to be fully reliant on external consultants.

MindSet28 is a specific executive assessment tool developed by ilume and once carried out provides the evidence required for a powerful and focused leadership development program done as a collective (such as a senior executive team) or individually. Having delivered this in the market for over 6 years it has truly proven itself to be the gold standard in leadership development.

MindSet28 takes a powerful and holistic view of the individual by balancing qualitative multi-dimensional frames through using three dimensions: cognitive, social emotional and behavioural, rather than a one-dimensional approach. Our promise is to show the executive the potential of growing a bigger mind and a pathway to achieve that.

So how important and effective do you think MindSet28 is to the CEOs of major organisations?

Well I think this is best answered by the CEO of one of ilume’s foundation clients, PwC New Zealand. CEO and Managing Partner Mark Averill attributes their high performance culture to taking the majority of their partners through the MindSet28 leadership development program. A big strategic move for PwC as the program asks for the partners, who are the leaders and rainmakers of the business, to come away from the day to day delivery of client work and develop their leadership on a 6 day residential program. That said, Mark acknowledges that it has definitely given them sustainable competitive market advantage and the program had a hand in him eventually becoming the CEO of the organisation.

The empowerment that I saw when I spoke to some very technical partners at PWC really gave me the reassurance that this is the approach we should be using with more Australian CEO’s and senior leaders.

There are many development tools available to businesses today but nearly all are competency or behavioural-based assessments and for an organisation that relies entirely on talent and high performance culture, which PWC are, the MindSet28 approach has proven to be the most effective.

Of the various personality profiling tools MindSet28 is the only one that doesn’t put you in a box forever and I think that is really important. I have personally been through many of these assessments and it has always categorised me as this one specific person for life, but that’s just not realistic actually gives a worrying message that I am unable to develop any further, yet I’m only half way through my career. Mindset28 is a developmental tool not a “putting you in a box” tool, so the difference is that for the first time it gives people a pathway for continuous improvement rather than just telling a person who they are and how they will be forever.