Managers as Talent Enablers – MATE

Managers as Talent Enablers – MATE

great leaders are teachers

Managers are being called upon to be enablers of talents in organizations. And rightfully so. They have the context right and are familiar to their prospective proteges. Members being enabled do not need much time-out from work as the managers can action-coach them on floor. And the best thing about this arrangement is that companies do not need shell out money to outsource talent development for little or no guarantee of success.

In my article, “Why outsource learning?” published in the May 2009 issue of the Management Next I had commented: “…your leaders are your best coaches. Invest in enabling them to learn how to influence and facilitate the process of learning and you will find your subject matter experts become awe inspiring ‘gurus’.” Are companies investing in enabling their managers to take on the role of talent enablers? Are managers being enabled and certified to be a Manager as Talent Enabler – M.A.T.E.?

Many managers may argue that you they been there, done that. They have the necessary experience and expertise as an SME to dole out technical prescriptions for the aspiring leads to ‘fix’ situations or ‘prop’ performance. However, how are the managers so sure that, along with the cheat sheet and the how-to content, they are not unwittingly transferring some not-so-desirable contagion of their own emotional incontinence? In quest of certainty, most managers have a tendency to tell more than ask, depriving the protege of the power of exploration to find answers on her own. She is left with alternatives that are not her own and therefore pursued with little conviction and buy-in. In the desire to be popular and liked, many managers may choose to extra polite and ‘nice’, not displaying ‘ruthless compassion’ when required, depriving their proteges of the opportunity to see their own blind spots and make amends. Most often deep-seated needs in the prospective enabler show up in gamy behavior. They may unwittingly be setting up proteges in a process of co-dependence, thus perpetrating a legacy of emotionally inadequate and toxic relationships.

These are only a few of the many pitfalls one may encounter suddenly as M.A.T.E. if not yet ready.  Pitfalls, which if not recognized and reckoned with at early stages of an enabling engagement can do more harm than good. What are organizations doing to ensure this readiness and minimize the risk of exposing their talents to damaging impact of not-ready or half-ready enabler?

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