Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others – so said the master Jack Welch.
The quality and quantity of our output is so critically dependent on the performance of the team members. We will seldom have the choice of constructing teams from scratch and are expected to deliver results with the available resources. Given the linear relationship, facilitating individual performance then becomes a prime leadership requirement.
While one can use a variety of styles – delegating, directing, supporting etc – to further this objective depending upon the situation and the person, I am going to make a mention of one of the more effective and long term sustainable modes, that of Coaching.
The goal of coaching is to guide the vision, urge excellence and empower the one being coached through establishing a firmer connection with their inner authority. If Performance of an individual = potential+attitude-interference, then coaching facilitates an individual to reach his/her potential with a minimum of intrusion and maximum of self discovery. The risk is often of being very directive, prescriptive and over bearing instead of being able to illuminate the minds. Patience is thus a great virtue and any hastening of the process only leads to sub-optimal results. Let me illustrate this through a story from our natural habitat….
A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared stuck.
The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shrivelled wings. The man watched the butterfly expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.
The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realise that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.
In life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us strong. When we coach and teach others it is helpful to recognize when people need to do things for themselves.
Actions that will help – listen intently with complete focussed attention and with no interruptions, try to understand as deeply as you possibly can, ask intelligent questions that will force thoughts, improve realisation and lead to self discovery.