Beaucoup voudraient aujourd’hui que les managers deviennent des managers-coaches. Une telle évolution est même préconisée par certains comme nécessaire pour libérer une organisation. Je ne partage pas cet avis, et je pense même qu’il s’agit d’une confusion préjudiciable à la réussite d’une démarche de libération.
For many of you, the name of Coach John Wooden will sound familiar. For others, like me, it was a very recent discovery I made thanks to my friend Isaac Getz. Wooden UCLA basketball team coach has one of the most remarkable trackrecord of the history of sport. Yes, of sport. Not just basketball. Just have a look : 10 March Madness national championship in 12 years, 7 national championships in a row, an 88-game winning streak, a 38-game winning streak in national championship tounament play. But such an unequaled (palmares) is not the fruit of chance. It has been built day after day by an industrious and learning mind connected with the heart.
When most leaders would define leadership as the capacity to bring a team – or a company, or a city – to victory, Coach Wooden has found something greater than winning. And he calls it success. Now, many of us may think that success is just another name for winning. Not for Wooden. Everything starts with his novel definition of success :
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result
of self-satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort
to become the best you are capable of becoming.
Three observations :
- Though he was evolving in a highly competitive environement, Wooden does not mention others in his definition. This means that the measurment standard for performance is not an external but an inner one. Peace of mind and self satisfaction both come from inside. Effort is not a ranking. And the best you are capable of becoming does not necessarily mean becoming #1.
- Wooden’s definition is open : making the effort is a process, and a never-ending one. When external competition is no more the final judge of what your are, then what is left is the ongoing process of improvement. There is no surprise in seeing Wooden put “Industriousness” as one cornerstone of his Leadership pyramid. People who worked with him recall that his training sessions were extremely well prepared and with high intensity.
- If you shorten the definition to the extreme, you can possibly say that “Success is peace of mind”. This is what Wooden has taught again and again to young athletes – full of desires to win, to make a great career, to have their names in the Hall of fame, to earn a lot of money, etc… Was “peace of mind” something appealing to them ? Well, in the context of long and tough competitions like US University basketball championships, peace of mind is a key condition to win. “Winning becomes a by-product of how well prepared you are mentally, physically” says Mike Warren a former player of UCLA Varsity, quoting what Wooden would say to his team. I would say that this is a key mental preparation for winning : being able to be sufficiently detached from the end result so that you focus not on the result itself but on giving your best. Peacefully.
Discovering Wooden’s life and philosophy (mainly through the book The Essential Wooden) has opened my eyes on my limits as a team coach. It helped me particularly in pointing out the big mistake I have made when I coached a team of young entrepreneurs at Team Academy, here in France. I was so much focussed on the results that the team should have produced, that I disregarded the effort that the teamsters were doing to become the best that they could be. When results were not there, even if they made the effort, they could see disappointment in my eyes. instead of building confidence in their capacity to give their best, this has created many times discouragement and drop of self-confidence, instead of enthusiasm and willingness to improve.
Becoming a better team coach is a lifetime effort. Reading about Wooden’s style and principles has empowered me. I strongly recommend you to study his work… and try to practice it !
In January, I have been given the opportunity to work three top teams of 10.000+ people companies. Though in very different businesses (telecom, agrobusiness and services), I could sense similarities in the way that the members of these teams behave and interact. I want to share here three insights.
As a leader, one of the biggest errors you can make is to believe that you can be self-sufficient. In a world where it seems that the highest virtue is to be independant, this can appear as a paradox. Nevertheless, if a great leader is often someone with a strong personal vision, she or he is also a master in relating to others.
A leader is a high-quality relationships gardener
Why would people follow you ? This is the key question that needs to be answered by any leader. So, if you do not have a high-quality relationship with your followers, how can you lead ? Great leadership author Jagdish Parikh reminds us that we have to manage our relationships with “detached involvement“. This means that we always incur the risk of being too attached to people (or to objects, to events, and of course to ourselves). At the same time, no leadership is possible if it is felt as distant or superior.
You may be an exceptional achiever, a great visionary or the most respected expert in your field, it makes no difference : to get results, you will need to rely on the motivation and performance of many others – especially in the highly complex environment we are living in today. In his recent book, Humble Inquiry, The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, MIT Profesor Edgar Schein is making a neat and… humble point about the tendancy we have to believe that a leader is the one who has answers. One common characteristic of large-scale failures (such as the disaster of Space Shuttle Discovery) is the absence of a climate for subordinates to surface big issues as they show up. Creating such a climate is one of the roles of the leader, which implies a very deep consciousness of his dependency on others for the success of any endeavour. Asking authentic questions that surface his own ignorance is a key habit to develop such a climate, since it indicates clearly that there is no problem in NOT having all the answers.
A leader takes the risk of the other
One of the biggest problems of our times is the fragmentation of people in society or in organizations. It is often very strange to hear some executives complain about the silos or the lack of collaboration that exist in their companies, when all the systems they have put in place (from budgeting to compensation) are mainly constructed on individual (or fragmented) contributions. It is as if the large bureaucratic organization was trying through its processes to reunify separate and independant units.
The origins of this tendancy come from very far, and probably from the economic theory linked to the Enlightment views that promoted the advent of the individual, emancipated from holistic societies. I think that our challenge is to develop again a shared commitment (of employees, of citizens,…) towards what belongs to us – and not to me, or to any individual. Italian economist Luigino Bruni wrote a beautiful book, The Wound and the Blessing, around the proposal that we can only meet that challenge through the acceptance of the Other – as a potential blessing, but also as a potential wound. This means that we must not dream of a society that has eliminated all the frictions inherent to the fact of living together (the wounds). An authentic leader risks to be wounded by the world around her, by the people she meets. This is the fundamental condition for receiving the blessings that people can bring to the cause or the enterprise she his fighting for.
- Do the persons who follow you feel that you are with them even if you are not totally melted with them ?
- Do you practice often the gentle art of asking instead of just telling ?
- Are you willing to let others bless you or are you just preventing yourself from the wounds that you can get from them ?
It’s been quite a while since I saw the beautiful movie “The King’s Speech“. Many comments have been made about this work, but I’d like to focus on nine lessons that this story gives us about the office of a coach.
1. Chose your field
Lionel Logue – Bertie’s (the future King George VI) coach – does not accept to go to the royal palace for the coaching sessions. He works in an environment he knows, and with the rules he sets. Sometimes, as coaches, we accept conditions (space, time,…) that we know we shouldn’t. Is this because we believe that the client is king ?
2. Aknowledge your mistakes
At some point in the movie, Logue pushes his client to an extreme. The scene is quite violent and the relationship seems to be broken. Only Logue’s deep and authentic humility (He tells the King : “I’ve been too far” ) can restore the confidence. It is only when we accept and do not hide our own limitations that we are believable as coaches.
This book is really cool. You travel from studio to studio of 20 contemporary painters and you discover how they work : daily routines, material they use, etc. This is like going in the kitchen of a great restaurant. Wizardry stands in the middle of apparently ordinary spaces and tools. But these have been crafted and customized to serve a unique purpose.
Edgar Schein’s last book is both simple and profound. If you are looking for fresh view on how to give and receive help, this is for you. Schein main point is that what makes whatever helping relationship so touchy is that it creates an imbalance between people. How can we deal with this imbalance subtly ? Find out more in this beautiful book of a wise old man.
Wow !!! I just loved this book. You may have seen Sir Ken Robinson in one of his TED talks, but The Element is different. It shows you through examples of real people how important it is for you to play “in the zone” – i.e. to find your Element. This goes beyond what you’ve learned about emotional intelligence or creativity, it is about a lifelong quest to find where you will give the very best of who you are. And Robinson’s good news is that there is no age limit for this quest !!!
If you’ve never read a book from Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Stress might be a good way to start. You will find many of Gallwey’s main themes and concepts, but framed to help you deal with stress. This legendary coach fights against many managerial myths. For instance, he tells us that stress is NOT good and that stability is essential for performance. Now, you have to find your inner stability. And that’s where practical tools like drawing your “Tree of Resources” is so valuable. This book helped me a lot in a recent stressfull time, so I highly recommend it.
Is it necessary to present Nancy Duarte ? Probably not. Her last book his a jewel. Not only because it is so beautifully designed and illustrated, but also because it contains the results of years of research and experience. This really personal view of how to tell stories that resonate with your audience has wide implications for anybody who has a message to deliver – be it a simple presentation to your team or a public speech with a large audience. Nancy’s core message is simple : speak from your heart so that you can touch people’s hearts. But this means for you to be very clear about the future that you want to create. A special mention for the deep analysis of Steve Jobs’ and Martin Luther King’s well known speeches.
I read this book last summer and I can say that it truly changed many views I had about business in general and marketing in particular. The ambition and reach of The Power of Pull are wider, though. Seely Brown, Hagel and Davison embark us on a journey towards our present and future society. What they say is that new technologies – social media particularly – have changed the rules of the game : we leave the world of “Push” logic and behaviours for a world of “Pull”. Implications are enormous in many fields (business, education, science,…) but they require very different skills and attitudes from us. The authors invite us to take part in this flow of discovering where our passion is, sharing our knowledge, connecting with the tribes that are relevant to us – both locally and globally.
OK, Guy Kawasaki is not only an expert in the art of Enchantment but also in the art of Recycling (former books, articles or posts…) BUT his talent lies in his ability to deliver very practical wisdom… to live your life fully. His point is that whatever client or boss (or reader or family or …) you have, you can enchant their lives. And this is a GREAT purpose. Guy believes in it. Guy genuinely inspires us. Guy gives down-to-earth advice. I loved this book because it is actually a book on leadership in the age of disenchantment (a wink to Max Weber) and I think that our times desperately need such leaders.
This could have been an Appendix or a special Bonus of The Power of Pull (see above). But I think it is much more than that. John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas decifer the new way of learning in our world of social media. Playing (like in World of Warcraft), writing a blog, following experts on Twitter,… All these activities show us new ways of learning that are essentially social (within a community), linked with passion and building on our ability for imagination and play. Learning becomes a truly lifelong activity and Seely Brown and Thomas provide usefull keys to understand how this shift changes our current mindsets and practices. A must read.
Fish ! is a simple little book that opens your mind on the potential that is already present within your current workplace. It is not because the work of your team is ordinary that you cannot transform your days through joy, fun and meaning. Fish ! describes the change of a boring and execrable workplace to a sensible and joyful one. Why not giving it a try ?
In the spirit of changing the workplace for happiness, Henry Steward – happy CEO of Happy People (Great place to Work 2010 in the UK) – proposes us a tale about the transformation of a manager. It all starts on the beach, where this poor guy is not able to enjoy any minute of his holiday… Step by step, he learns how to let his team do the work (without him having to command and control). This book is full of practical insights and you can tell that they come from Henry‘s experience – not from a consultant’s utopia. As Isaac Getz puts it : Freedom works !