I WAS chairing a meeting last week and someone said: “We are all busy professionals.” He was the one most behind on his assignments.
As team coach, I probed: “Is there a more empowering way of looking at your work life, one that enables you to be more proactive, effective, and in control?”
Recognising my provocation, other managers jumped into the conversation. One guy pleaded with his colleague: “Can’t you be more flexible?” Another said: “Let’s put this behind us. Let’s start fresh from here!”
The third manager thanked the team. “This is good! Everyone has had a chance to speak.”
A good coach not only tracks where the energy is coming from in a conversation. A good coach listens for the premise upon which that conversation is based. Can you listen for understanding, presuppositions, decisions, and fears... that once you identify them, will enable you to get to the heart of things very quickly?
The manager’s basis and therefore his decision not to perform, was embedded in his words: “We are all busy professionals.”
As team leader, I challenged it. “Let’s say that your description is true (for everyone?). How do you believe it changes your role as manager? What will you decide to do about that?”
Is it also your observation that many people don’t have a stable relationship with strong emotions, and would do almost anything to avoid dealing with them? Men often avoid breaking up because they don’t like tears, they lie to avoid drama at home simply because it’s more bearable than telling the truth! Only the problem grows larger and often explodes, causing severe collateral damage.
I have some idea about the conversations those managers have with themselves around issues such as conflict and confrontation, responsibility and accountability. Some people perceive any differences and all disagreement as personal attack or disrespect. So they lash out (How dare you?), or withdraw.
Others feel they must “solve the problem quickly”. They apply remedies. “Here take this. You’ll feel better in three days’ time!”
What happens when we prescribe medicines to cure symptoms before we really understand the cause? How effectively can we treat the patient? When we refuse to face reality, when we lack awareness through lack of perspective, how can we facilitate change to the benefit of all?
I always listen for potential. Those who know the extent of their personal power, understand the meaning of freedom and choice. We live in a very different world. We articulate in the language of possibility and opportunity. We say: “I get to be the person I want to be”, “I will follow my dreams and passions” and “I have the freedom to unleash my potential”.
I’m interested in life. I wonder what’s next that will surprise and delight me?
See the love and go forward
Nobody told me parenting can be so difficult after divorce. I have two teenagers who refuse to listen to anything I say and an ex who seems to take pleasure from the stress and trouble I’m going through. How can I stay sane?
Tessie: Divorce is not a sane process, is it? How can two people who have promised to love each other and who’ve given the best of themselves to each other suddenly seem bent on ruining each other - including the lives of their children?
Yes, they do this when they engage in selfish attacks on the other person and work to prohibit possibilities in each other’s future.
If readjusting to a single life is challenging, think what it must be doing to your children. If you can barely comprehend how your nearest and dearest can turn against you and you want nothing more than to be independent again, how much more confused are your little ones?
It’s hard I know, but this is the time to remember who you really are. This is the time to count, not discount. Come from your core (which is pure love) every time you speak.
You need to be a clean mirror that reflects back only adoration for your children, no matter what. Think three or five years from now. How would you want your children to remember you — as a benevolent, compassionate, gentle energy, or that raging, out-of-control maniac who can’t quite keep it together? When they feel your peace, they will calm down too.
As for your ex’s behaviour, well, let that speak about him, not you. Focus on yourself. When you find yourself, when you see how wonderful you are — how much more love you have to give — you will find it in yourself to let go... and look forward.
Rapport for peak performance
I lead a team of 84 and my organisation constantly faces problems with people’s lack of commitment. This translates into poor performance, starting with poor punctuality, managers not knowing how to represent the company and a general lack of pride in whatever they do. How can a coach help improve engagement?
Tessie: For a company, to engage is to bridge the gap between people and their potential. All resistance is a sign of lack of rapport, a signal there is lack of appreciation for each other’s sense of values, perhaps a clash of understanding about what’s important. A coach will work to reconcile all these elements and find common ground, appreciating that some people just don’t fit in.
What do organisations look for in their employees? Stakeholders want soldiers who embody the organisation’s vision and values. Leaders want those who will defend the goals and objectives and who will fight for innovative ways to grow the business. What does it take to grow a team as sharp as this?
It takes a long-term view of getting one’s culture right, a culture of mutuality and peak performance. Mutuality because the premise is, we just don’t care for things that don’t belong to us. Ownership is a whole different attitude than the carrot and stick motivation practice. Peak performance is a “zone”. Peak performance is an experience, not an outcome. Therefore to reach the peak is a choice-driven journey and must be paved with basic elements such as self-awareness and personal power. How else would you recognise what triggers a “peak” experience in you?
Once you get the basics right, the rest will come naturally. It’s human nature. It’s all just human stuff.