My first challenge took me to a realization that marked a huge difference for me as a Leadership Coach.
I am a proud Panamanian. We are happy people that generally like to have a good time. We usually tend to disconnect from our reality by partying over the weekend. We are in essence, positive by nature. Recently, Panama qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. Our performance during this tournament was more than disappointing, but we were the happiest fans in Russia! Other countries lost in the semi-finals and it was considered a national tragedy. This Panamanian way will definitely make our lives more enjoyable but won’t create radical changes needed to take us out of a third world mindset and stop the corruption cycle that has been the trademark of our governments going back decades.
On July 12th, the FT published an article headlined “The UK’s productivity problem: the curse of the ‘accidental manager”, you can find it here – https://www.ft.com/content/b96ce8f2-5dd9-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68.
Are pork pies good for you?
It is somewhat disquieting to read that the “Peter principle”, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle, continues to thrive in UK business. Our poor productivity performance arises because too many people gain promotion into managerial roles beyond their level of natural competence. However, in the firm featured in the FT article performance is improving.
It strikes me, however, that simply hanging up figures of Superman (is this unconscious bias by the firm’s leaders?), and doling out pork pies are rather superficial practices. The only likely outcome of this epicurean approach is hardened arteries.
The firm’s performance growth is due to its managers doing something much more profound, i.e. the way they “serve” their employees, see Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Servant-Leadership-Robert-K-Greenleaf/dp/1576750353/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1531821205&sr=8-3&keywords=robert+greenleaf.
At the simplest level, they should be talking to their employees as equal partners striving for success. When this is achieved, I hope they’re rewarded with more than cholesterol laden pies!
Over the last 2 years, I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to lead an operational execution team and we have managed to put together a group of fine professionals. They combine knowledge and experience but also curiosity for improvement and a hunger for growth. It has reached a point where we need to stop and look around and reflect. The conclusion I have reached is that we dedicate ourselves to execute plans that are being handed to us… right? More reflection is needed to find the real purpose: We hold in our hands the service delivery promise to our clients. Suddenly a job with no apparent complexity has become one with the highest possible stakes.
Do you classify jobs by gender? What is your first reaction when you learn that the General Manager of a Regional Marine department is a female?
You automatically push success away when you don’t believe in your capabilities and abilities. If your mind doubts your actions will not follow and you will not get the expected results, as simple as that.
Last week I met a good friend who used to be my direct report. He recently got promoted as general manager and has always been a great sparring buddy. Besides the fact that I feel extremely proud to see him growing and pleased to be part of it, I also find our talks and engagement inspiring myself as he always add something to the conversations which makes me grow too.
Among different things we spoke about, reminiscing about the time we worked together, the adversities we had – how we surmounted them as well as his/our current challenges, we also spoke about long term ambition and discussed ‘why some people get ahead on their careers and others, even being extremely bright, don’t go so far.
“Opportunities come disguised as hard work.” By Bernardinho (Brazilian volleyball coach and former player).
Then he brought in a very interesting analogy from Indian mythology
It’s been a while since I’ve directed a play. I miss it. I miss the freedom to be creative, I miss watching something take form, I miss seeing other people create performances around me. I miss realising a vision.
This last point is one that really interests me. Directing a play is about the most immediate and swift creation of a product I can think of.
We have now reached the fourth and last post of coaching elements (“Belief-Dream-Plan-Execute”) using lived experiences.
In my last post, I wrote about the importance of devising a strong plan so you can revisit your goal/dreams on a daily basis, ensure you (your team) are on track and heading in the right direction. Also made the analogy to a ship – the crew prepares a voyage plan before departure and, during EXECUTION, external factors and (involuntary) conditions may force them to constantly alter its route but the destination is kept as a goal.
As the team leader you are always looking for and leveraging opportunities to motivate, celebrate and reward successful team performance. But your team is made up of individuals. This means you need to spend time understanding the makeup and motivation of the team members. It’s not just the skills, experience and knowledge that each team member provides; but how that person makes a productive contribution within the team, and interacts with other members in a positive way that will ensure the team is effective. When you understand and observe this you will have something to celebrate. But what are you looking for? How can you test this? What are the coaching questions you can ask?