Know it all?
When we get our first ‘management’ role, there is a huge amount of pressure to ensure we ‘live’ up to expectations. This can result in putting a vast amount of pressure upon ourselves, so much so, that we don’t even recognise who we are any more. We’ve all seen it, managers who seem to be living in fear, with one eye behind them and one eye in front. You see this so often in TV programmes like Big Brother or The Apprentice. Friends and family usually comment how they didn’t recognise the behaviours they were seeing of their loved one. This ‘hot house’ of a highly pressurised environment does anything but get the best out of a manager.
Managers were expected to know ‘everything’. That’s what managers were for. They would guide you, support you, and tell you how best to do things. They were experienced and ‘they knew best’. In this uncertain world, what has become apparent, to quote Einstein, is that we cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them.
Whilst I was going through my Executive Coaching course, the last day of the practical sessions involved a role-play. This was at the end of five days throughout which we had carried out numerous role-plays. I had exhausted all examples to use. My colleague asked what I would like to talk about. I couldn’t think of anything. I decided to talk about my son. As parents, we carried a lot of guilt. We felt we had somehow missed the weaning window and it has resulted in him not being able to swallow food. We had to blend everything. We couldn’t eat at restaurants like other families. Was our son was ‘different’? As my colleague coached me, a realisation came over me. I had stopped trying and hadn’t gone back to test whether things were the same. I hadn’t tried everything. I walked away from that session with a plan and the next day, my wife and I sat with tears in our eyes watching our son eat food for the first time, around the kitchen table. A simple coaching session had helped me to re-look at the situation in a new way, approaching it from a different perspective, leading to wonderful results.
Managers don’t need to have all the answers. They need to know how to ask the right questions, to help their colleagues come up with the right answers. It is liberating for both the manager and team member. Asking the right questions allows you to question your our perception, test your own boundaries. Managers developing the skills to do this, can truly unlock the potential of their teams, who could come up with solutions, that you yourself could never thought of….
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