I heard one CEO executive coaching client summarize the tremendous value of his coach’s listening and probing by saying, “This is where I come to get my answers questioned.” Top executives, especially those operating in a strong corporate culture, can find themselves in an echo chamber where everyone seems to be saying the same thing, thereby confusing their mutual agreement with reality. It is the most “obvious” assumptions that most severely constrict our thinking.
Gentlemen, I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here,” he started, and everyone nodded their heads in agreement. “Then,” he went on, “I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until the next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement, and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about.”
Years ago, an experienced coach and mentor began our meeting by asking about my first child. Just 18 months old, he was eagerly crawling and using a few words.
“It’s a fascinating time,” I replied. “You can almost hear the wheels turning in his head as he experiments to find out what combination of noises and movements is going to get him what he wants.”
I heard myself and paused to absorb the insight.
“Wow!,” I continued. “That is still how I spend most of my day.”
But not every day. How often do you actually examine how well your “noises and movements” are serving you? Don’t we all expend a lot of energy just repeating tired and familiar strategies rather than observing our results and experimenting with new communications?
It is rare to be as eager and innovative as a baby yet how can we fail to be impressed with the child’s rapid progress? Experimenting, responding, growing, moving forward, relentlessly alive–children know how to learn.
How do you stay green and growing? One reliable technique for enhancing our learning, of course, is to work with a supportive and insightful executive coach and surround yourself with people who share your commitment to conscious development.
The Economist newspaper has an excellent summary of Warren Bennis’s work on leadership, adapted from their book: Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus. Bennis makes a strong case for leadership as something to be nurtured and learned.
Four things an effective leader must embody, communicate, and encourage are:
Mr. Bennis and I share, along with many other management consultants and executive coaches, a debt to the pioneering work of Werner Erhard‘s EST and Landmark Education.
Only the modern age’s conviction that man can know only what he makes, that his allegedly higher capacities depend upon making and that he therefore is primarily homo faber and not an animal rationale, brought forth the much older implications of violence inherent in all interpretations of the realm of human affairs as a sphere of making. [p. 228]
We are perhaps the first generation which has become fully aware of the murderous consequences inherent in (more…)