09 May Managers as coach – an imperative
Managers as coach, I am fortunate to have lived, learnt and grown with a child from the time he was born. It’s now been more than five years of rich learning, living and growing up with this child. I have seen him from the time he was an infant, learn to walk and talk. I have seen him as he grew up, learn how to live and manage his needs. Seek help when required and even negotiate when he wanted something. To my amazement something which I find severely lacking in adults today, I see him owning up when he makes a mistake without any fear of being admonished. I see him enroll adults as if they are his peers when he wants to do something which according to him could be something not permissible. How did he learn, how did he get to know and do all these things? He did not go to a communication-skills, body language or negotiation skills workshop. He was not coached to develop these life skills. How then is he so naturally adept in living, learning and adapting to the environment that he lives in?
It is not very difficult to answer these questions if we look at our own naturally growing up phases of life particularly when we were not influenced by authority-driven systems in and around us. A little exploration will lead us to this innate gift that not only children but each one of us is gifted with, as complex self-evolving systems (CSES), the gift of learning, adapting and evolving. That is what the universe intends of us. This is what is embedded in the very design of us being human. The only thing that is expected of us is to be awake, experience every touch point of life consciously and make appropriate choices to learn as we live. If we looked very closely at this process of natural learning where nature itself is the teacher, where the gift of learning and adaptation is leveraged autonomously, we will see that there are three very clear pre-requisites:
- Not messing around with this beautiful process of learning and enabling it to happen by making the learner to be more aware, more conscious of him and the context in which he grows.
- Providing an environment that creates a learning experience from every touch point and allows for job / roles based competencies and behaviors available on-tap to be pulled on-demand by the learner.
- Crafting a role for the learner to engage with joyfully so that he can fearlessly experiment with and apply what he has already learned and find newer areas of development to work upon, willingly.
The reality however is very different. As we grow up we realize that this world is infested with authority-driven institutions and systems that are too eager, too obsessed with imposing stuff on us which they believe they have and we don’t in the name of teaching and training.
The entire education system, the entire learning system in businesses and industries is bed-rocked on this flawed and limiting assumption that the learners don’t know what the teachers know therefore they must be imposed with knowledge. They must be taught what they don’t know and in the process they must be reduced to becoming something that they are not and meant to be. This atrocious process has been going on for centuries and led to what Jiddu Krishnamurti has called the crisis of consciousness.
A universal shift in consciousness is clearly perceptible in the individual and institutional all over the world. Time has come for a radical shift, calling for transformation in those who are meant to enable others, in the process of enablement and in the entire enablement system. When we apply this understanding to the context of institutional growth what clearly emerges is that those who were responsible for managing people and their productivity are now mandatorily responsible for the latter’s enablement and growth. Yes, I am talking of managers. Like it or not managers now need, as an imperative, to accept the responsibility of being coaches and enablers. They need to realize that in order to maintain harmony and equilibrium in the system they cannot just expect human beings to deliver as resources but also add value to their lives and living. In fact the value that is created in course of their growing and evolving is what going to be their contribution to the institution. The current generation and the generations to come are intolerant of authority and authority led systems that are imposed upon them. They like being left alone. If managers need to take these individuals along with them in the process of co-creating value for the institution they need to learn to be transformational coaches and enablers of such individuals.
A prerequisite for enabling others, however, is enabling oneself – enabling self- transformation. For only when I enable my own transformation the world being a connected reality, I very naturally bring about transformation in others. Not only in those who are around me but even those who are away from me.