Influencer Leona Bishop

Interview October 2018

Leona is born in England from a Dutch mother and English father and has two sisters and a brother. She is mother of two daughters and is living in Curaçao since 2015 as she accompanied her husband who accepted to work on the island. In a way, it was a reunion of sorts with Curaçao because in the past – over 20 years ago – she worked, via the City of Rotterdam, on various projects in the field of community development (Ban Bario Bèk), youth and education. She holds a masters degree in social history with a focus on psychology and communication and has completed professional certification in organizational development and change management. She has an extensive career working as a policy advisor, project and program manager & change manager in The Netherlands and also internationally, for example in Cabo Verde, South Africa, Morocco and Costa Rica. Leona has over 20 years of international experience in leadership, team and organizational development both in the public and private sector. She started her own business 10 years ago and recently renamed her company into ‘Dare to Care Leadership‘.
Go to: Leona Bishop – Curaçao – Dare to Care Leadership for more information.

Leona is an expert in working on transformational change in leaders, teams and organizations. She has a wide applicable knowledge of different approaches and an extensive tool kit. Leona completed training in Neuro Linguistic Programming, Systemic Work and Group Dynamics and is a certified Enneagram Coach, a licensed Functional Fluency & TIFF Provider and an advanced trainee in Transactional Analysis.
Leona is also a trainer for Functional Fluency and TIFF(c).

As we have understood it, Functional Fluency enables clients to become more self-aware of disempowering beliefs and enables them to re-address these beliefs and ultimately their behavior into more effective ones.

Could you explain how it differentiates itself from other approaches aimed at changing teams?
Leona: “Functional Fluency, created by Susannah Temple, is about building effective relationships. It is a clever and simple model for understanding how people behave, and a practical framework to help them ‘respond’ more and ‘react’ less. The Temple Index of Functional Fluency -TIFF© is a personal development tool based on the Functional Fluency model. To my knowledge, TIFF is the only validated psychometric behavioral tool in the world. Functional Fluency and TIFF differentiate themselves from other models and psychometric instruments because the model together with the tool give a clear insight into how a person divides his or her energy over nine modes of behavior, and and how effective that person is. The leading question is: “Do I and others benefit from my behavior and am I achieving my goals”?

This simple and practical model and tool – together with the guidance of a licensed TIFF Provider – help people to become aware of their own life story and beliefs that are holding them and others back, and how they can move beyond these limiting stories to more accurate and empowering ones. People are able to see how they can create space to work on their personal and professional growth by actively and consciously identifying and letting go of ineffective behavior and choosing to use effective behavior to achieve what is important to them and others. People can learn how to choose their behavior in order to maximize their effectiveness in all areas of their life. What I love about Functional Fluency and TIFF is that the use of them promote the self-awareness and understanding that enhances emotional literacy. TIFF is a valuable tool for consultants, trainers, counselors, coaches, mentors and psychotherapists and is being used with leaders & managers, teams & staff groups, teachers & students, parents & children, and business & life partners. It provides an innovative framework to help people bring about positive change.

In short, an effective gift for personal development, leadership development, team development and all places where people work together and live together.”

As you have worked in different countries in the world like Cabo Verde, South Africa, Holland of course and more, what are the differences and similarities that you are encountering as you are offering your services in Curacao?
Leona: “Everywhere I have been I notice how leaders struggle with leveraging the potential and resources in their teams, organizations, and countries to achieve the impact and results they desire. Very often people and systems get stuck in dysfunctional patterns, convictions and beliefs that prevent them from developing in effective and sustainable ways. In Curaçao, it is not different. But all countries and places are different, which implies that I – when offering my services – need to understand the history, the culture and the context people are working in. Instead of looking at an individuals’ development, team or organizational development in a vacuum, I need to look at it within the cultural context and the prevailing ‘ways of looking at the world’ and the structure of associated (conditioned) responses’ of ones’ broader social and environmental context.

A similarity I notice in all places I have been, is that each and every one of us is at a different stage of his or her psychological development and level of consciousness, with related patterns of thinking, sets of values and beliefs. So, just like in for instance The Netherlands, people in Curaçao are either more or less self-aware and paying more or less attention to their own personal and spiritual growth. A big difference between The Netherlands and Curaçao is that The Netherlands has a broad cultivated culture for coaching (individual and in the workplace), whilst Curaçao still needs to overcome the barriers of a coaching culture.

We have come to know you as a very altruistic person. You charge for your services but you also offer some of your services for free because of your commitment to serve. Where did that come from? For example, you have organized a course in Functional Fluency in Curaçao and it was part of an effort to enbale local facilitators to master this technique and we now have eight certified Functional Fluency & TIFF Providers on Curaçao. But you are also a volunteer in Green Kidz and are now involved in an innovative program at an AGO/VSBO school where you put in way more time than that is required by the school board. What drives you to do this?

Leona: “Firstly please let me rectify on the Functional Fluency course. I didn’t do that free of charge ;-). Although I did set up the course because I don’t want to keep this knowledge to myself. Working with Functional Fluency and TIFF© has greatly increased my own personal and professional effectiveness. As I am passionate about improving individual and collective well-being, I want to share my learning and enable coaches and counselors throughout the Caribbean to continue to grow in their professional roles, so that they can support their clients even more effectively for increasing success and satisfaction both personally and professionally. I don’t really know where my altruistic drive comes from. I believe, I have an instinctual capacity for doing so. I know that I have a brain circuitry that allows me to be sensitive to what other people are thinking and feeling, to empathize with their suffering, to care about their welfare, and to translate that information into compassionate action. Functional Fluency has made me become very aware of this. Looking back I can’t say that the altruistic drive I have now has always been at the fore. A lot of the time I was more in the survival mode so to speak. I considered providing for and raising my two daughters and my own personal and professional development first and foremost. But at present I am at a stage in my life and in the very fortunate position that I can give back to society and the world. And I feel very grateful that I am able and allowed to do so.”

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now? Or where do you want to be 10 to 15 years from now?

Leona: “The common thread in my life is being a change agent. I seem to have a constitutional unwillingness to accept the status quo when it seems unfair, unhealthy and/or destructive. I have as far as I can remember the determination to try to find a better way. I think the process might have started when I was a young girl, growing up in the UK in a very strict and authoritarian environment. There wasn’t much room for self-actualisation in the environment and system I grew up in. You can’t choose the environment you are born in to. It can seem very unfair. It took me a long time to discover, that how I had been conditioned and the story I had created about myself, others and the world wasn’t at all serving myself and others. That this story was actually holding me back to become a better person. I think that this experience eventually triggered the drive in me to support people in their own personal growth.

Another thing that comes to mind is when I was involved in an awareness-raising campain in the context of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. I came across the Brundlandt report, Our Common Future, which placed environmental issues firmly on the political agenda. It aimed to discuss the environment and development as one single issue. The unfair distribution of recources and the social and economical problems caused by it in the world really got to me. At the age of 26, I became very aware that our responsibility is to leave the world a better and more just place. So when I see unfair and/or destructive things happening, I have the urge to do something about it.

Lots of problems need solutions, but in the course of my carreer I’ve been more and more drawn to the cause of leadership advancement and the empowerment of the highly caring, courageous and collaborative leader. As the quality of our leadership directly affects the quality of our lives. I am talking about leaders with big ambitions who are able to set aside ego and self-interest and who are able to bring a new approach that serves others well and creates superior value and sustainable performance results for the betterment of our planet.

I believe that there is a compelling need for new thinking. How many leaders question themselves about why they lead and why peolpe should be led by them? How much thought do leaders give to the importance of their opportunity to influence people and have a positive impact on a team, an organization, society, a country?

Tough economic times, dramatically shifting world events, huge environmental issues, unmet needs in many countries all call for looking beyond the current composition of leadership for different answers. To achieve sustainable long-term economic growth and well-being, leadership must become more loving, caring, courageous and balanced.”

You are very involved in leadership development, are you willing to share what you are doing now to enhance leadership development in Curaçao ?
Leona: “Firstly, by coaching and training leaders and teams in organizations. I am working with various leaders and organizations on Curaçao and Bonaire, including the school on Curaçao mentioned before. A big part of the voluntary work I do at this school has to do with coaching and enhancing distibuted leadership amongst management and teachers.

Secondly, I initiated the Whole Island Leadership Expedition together with you (Ivan Kuster) and Martin van den Blink. As you know we have started a journey together with 16 to 20 people from various pillars of society who are all leaders in their own right. Together we are exploring what whole island leadership entails, what we need to step into whole island leadership, discovering which leadership attributes, styles and skills are needed to meet the future head-on, leaving old, outdated leadership models behind to strengthen our resolve. And all of this in the context of leading on a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). And as you always say Ivan “. . .we are actively connecting dots and aligning efforts”..

Thirdly, I am one of the initiators of the recently created Simia, a movement aiming to enhance (self-) leadership development among Millennials in the Caribbean.

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career? Were they always positive role models or where their also negative role models that you didn’t want to identify with?
Leona: “There have been quite a number of people who have inspired me in my career and/or gave me signs which way to go, both positive and negative role models. I was advisor to Bram Peper on international affairs when I was working for the City of Rotterdam. He was the mayor of Rotterdam at the time and he inspired me to believe in myself, my talents and qualities. And later on in my career I remember the head of Project Management Bureau who I then thought to be a real bully. But he forced me to take a good look at myself. In my job I needed to become better at guiding change and he sent me to a course to enhance my personal effectiveness. At first I was really offended, but during the course I really came to appreciate this ‘bully’ whilst discovering so many dysfunctional behaviors and patterns in myself that were preventing me from being an effective change manager. Later on in my career, I was inspired by a young consultant whom I was working with at the time. I was putting all of my energy into this huge change program within a large organization.

One day he looked me in the eyes and said: “Leona, I see you working your tail off for this organization, but where are you heading? What is your magnetic North?”. Well that question really inspired me to think about what I really wanted. A year after I handed in my resignation and started my own business. And since then I have always consciously searched for people who can inspire me to become a better version of myself. Two very special people I would like to mention are Elly Voorend and Piet van Haasteren. They taught me a great deal about coaching and encouraged me to study Transactional Analysis, which I use daily in my personal and professional life.”

What are some of the challenges, lessons learned, that you have encountered in your life when you ultimately discovered your talents and strenghts? You are a coach but are you being mentored and coached and how important is that?
Leona: “At first when I discovered the path of personal growth, I thought after reading one book on spirituality that I understood it all. Hahaha. I was rather self-righteous at the time. The biggest challenge has been to recognize and acknowledge my shortcomings without judgement towards myself, observe my dysfunctional beliefs and convictions, and redirect my ineffective habits and behaviors into more effective ones. Along the way I also discovered my talents and strengths, that I am now using to support others in their personal and professional growth. I have learned to be a lot more humble.

I am still being coached and mentored. I check in with my supervisor every 6 weeks and he helps me unravel things I get stuck in. I think it is extremely important to surround oneself with coaches and mentors because we all have blind spots and we can only learn and grow when we get feedback from others and do something with it. Coaches and mentors are all around us. One of my biggest mentors is for instance are my two daughters, offering me very clear and confronting mirrors.”

What are your strengths?
Leona: “On the top of my mind: Optimistic, enthusiastic, caring, compassionate, empathic, creative, purposeful, open-minded, analytical, spontaneous, resilient and a life-long learner.”

How would you describe Leona in one word or a sentence?
Leona: “Physis.”

What are your future plans? Can you share with us what are your business goals for short and long term?

“Short term:
– Help create a coaching culture in Curaçao and other Caribbean Islands by offering my services
– Create a platform where demand and supply comes together
– Provide the Functional Fluency and TIFF Providers Licensing Training annually and in-company for coaches, counselors, mentors, trainers, teachers and psychotherapists so they can spread the use of Functional Fluency in organizations, teams, groups and individuals in the Caribbean, and provide TIFF© as a tool for increasing success and satisfaction both personally and professionally.
– Offer a Coaching Course for coaches and HR-professionals
– Offer workshops and training for people who want to maximize their effectiveness in all areas of their lives
– Create and facilitate the Whole Island Leadership Expedition for leaders who want to collectively make a positive impact in the world.
– Help transform the AGO/VSBOschool I am working with to implement the concept of Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child succesfully

Long term:
– My ambition is to set up a Transformational Leadership Training & Coaching Hub for the Caribbean, based on Curaçao. Not alone but together with people who share the same vision, purpose and convictions. A sprinkling of transformational leaders at the top, however inspirational, is not enough to change companies or governments operate. The weight of cultural inertia is too great. But when that sprinkling grows until the transformationl leaderhip group is about one-third, important things will happen. Different decisions are made and the move toward true wholeness in leadership gains momentum. If we can get a critical mass of at least 30% transformational leader as partners at the power tables, we have a chance to change the world. My aim is to contribute towards reaching that 30%.”

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 10 to 15 years years from now?
Leona: “She has had the courage to go for what she believed in, she has walked her talk, she is a role model for others, compassionate and caring, a secure base for many people, she has a great sense of humor and has learned not to take herself so seriously and she has positively contributed to the world.”

What were 5 of the most Influential Books that changed your life?
– The seat of the soul, by Gary Zukav
– Only Fear Dies, by Barry Long
– The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
– The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram, by Sandra Maitri
– Het temmen van de Os (Taming the Wild Ox), by Nico Tydeman, based on Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen
Master Kakuan, China, 12th C.

Do you want to share anything else that might be relevant for those reading this blog?
”I think that this is quite enough about me. Actually, I would love to hear from people reading this blog what thoughts and feelings have come up whilst reading….”

Send us your comments to Leona directly to:
Or send us your feedback to or Cell (+5999) 6986437.

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