Coach's VIEW

Coach's VIEW is the business column written by coaches in COACH A. It will give you some tips to utilize coaching for organizational development and leadership development through its recent coaching status, recent data related to coaching, and introduction of global publication related to coaching.

What Is the Difference Between "Groups of Individuals" and "Connections among Individuals"?

What Is the Difference Between
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"I want to build an organization like that of the Apache." This is what Mr. A, a president of a medical device manufacturer with several thousands of employees, said to me.

The Apache are the tribes who blocked the northward expansion of Spain after they colonized most of South America.

The Apache did not have a centralized authoritarian rule organization. They were good at guerrilla warfare. If one of their leaders was knocked down, the next leader would immediately appear and enter the war. They had no causative-style word for "should do" and no one commanded others to "wage war."

Even though they were united, individuals took action under their own judgment. They would always get stronger and fight back after losing a battle. This is the Apache.*1

An organization aiming to be like the Apache

Amid a fiercely competitive environment in the industry, what Mr. A wanted to obtain was simple.

  • To improve results and build a sustainable organization in the future
  • To increase the number of individuals who personally create business and reform the organization
  • To create connections among individuals beyond the boundaries of individuals

He wanted to let his organization obtain not only the ability to create the future but also the ability to continue on surviving during his term of office.

There is a reason why Mr. A focused on coaching.

He came to feel the importance of realizing things, thinking about things and doing things by himself. This came from the fact that he was continually asked by his executive coach, "What do you truly want to obtain as an organization?"

He was convinced there was no way other than coaching to have such realization by himself and he wanted to extend this to his successors who will lead the company in the future.

Mr. A resolved himself to achieve this.

"I will increase the number of leaders who will perceive themselves as part of the problem and work to change the organization, rather than talking about organizational issues from the perspective of an outsider."

An organization in which strong individuals appear one after another

The Apache had a leader named Geronimo.

He did not command an army. He simply personally took action in an Apache-like way and set an example.

When he started fighting, those around him followed him into battle if they wanted to; and didn't if they didn't want to. Each individual took action under his own will.

Mr. A believed that the strength of his organization could not be developed unless he increased the number of strong individuals who personally took action like the Apache.

Mr. A called upon five people he trusted as his successors and said the following:

"First, I will appoint a professional coach to each one of you. Please select six members in other departments. Then, I want you to coach them."

He hoped that they would support the business promotion of six people in a relationship without connection to hierarchical authority.

The five leaders would coach a total of 30 people. When those 30 people become strong individuals, the five leaders would become even stronger individuals.

The coaching was enhanced in the organization and the number of strong individuals increased. It led to the story that his organization became stronger than before.

Mr. A gathered the 30 people sometime after the start of the project. He carefully listened to the business plan and organizational reform plan decided by each individual.

He didn't just do that, but also looked at them in the following way.

  • How will each person change the organization?
  • Who is speaking in their own words?
  • Who is expressiing their strong desire?
  • Who has been providing coaching to draw out the abilities of the 30 people to the maximum possible extent?

Strong individuals form connections at a high level among themselves

Some interesting changes started occurring after another month had passed.

A type of a sense of tension started to arise among the 30 people in addition to the progress of their respective business plans and organizational development plans.

Each individual faced major difficulties while proceeding with their business and organizational reforms. They struggled, suffered and showed severe expressions on their faces.

In such a tense atmosphere, Mr. A noticed that he was hearing what he had never heard before.

"Is there anything we can do to support you in your department for your efforts?"

"We may be able to solve that point by cooperating together. Why don't we get together to talk in more details about it?"

The members who were facing new challenges and risks had actually started sharing further risks.

The 30 people were not just a group of individuals. Mr. A could start to see that connections had started to form among the individuals.

Individuals and organizations develop at the same time

Mr. A, who saw this situation from the distance, said the following while inclining his head.

"Geronimos were created by giving them coaches. It was just as I expected. However, hearing them say 'is there anything I can do?' while they were all struggling, was not something I expected.

I don't think that would have happened if I had told them to work together from the beginning. Raising the level and strength of each individual created even stronger connections.

I feel now surely that our organization became more like Apache."

Finally, he added the following.

"You become Geronimo together with other people - not alone. Nothing would have started without that decision."

Bringing Out the Best in Others at Work

Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions by managers everywhere is "How do I motivate my people?"

The answer is you cannot. What you can do is understand how to bring out the best in them and leverage their intrinsic motivation which is far more productive than extrinsic motivation. When people are intrinsically motivated, they come from a place of personal satisfaction and a sense of purpose. Intrinsic motivation ranks at the higher levels of Maslow's Hierarchy that reflect people's emotional and psychological needs. According to the self-determination theory, developed by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan in the mid 1980s, to encourage intrinsic motivation people need three things:

  1. Autonomy: the ability to direct their own lives, have choices, and control
  2. Mastery: the need to learn, to create something new and to become better at something that matters to them
  3. Purpose: understanding the meaning behind what they do and a sense they are contributing to something greater and lasting.

Behaviors and Needs in the Workplace

To bring out the best in others (and yourself), it can be helpful to consider what need is behind the behavior, what need is this person trying to meet? What's triggering the response, reaction, or behavior?

Such motivations and needs are complex, varied, multi-faceted and changing however, they can be organized in five broad groups of motivators:

  1. Control: Holding on to an idea so tightly that we alienated others. The need to control the environment is so strong that we are willing to jeopardize connection with others.
  2. Pride: Think about people who feels it's shameful to show emotions at work. Their need for pride is so strong they risk being seen as "cold" or "unemotional".
  3. Protection: You may have encountered a colleague who doesn't talk to others, does not engage in team activities, and may even fail to greet folks with a 'Good Morning' or 'How are you?' The need here might be to protect themselves from rejection by rejecting everyone else first.
  4. Fear: Consider the supervisor who dismisses new ideas or suggestions or takes credit for others' ideas. Maybe the supervisor fears loss of standing or position.
  5. Acceptance: Think about a time when someone acted in a way that seemed out of character because "everybody else was doing it". Perhaps the need for acceptance outweighed a sense of right and wrong.

Leadership Tips for Bringing Out the Best in Others

If we can see past the behavior, and identify the need or possible motivation, we can consider the best strategy to bring out the best in a person. This means we may have to look at others with a new set of eyes. We have to challenge ourselves to see beyond the surface behavior and avoid making assumptions about a person's behavior. Here are some tips for achieving this:

1. Encourage others to Talk about Themselves:

Most people like to talk about ourselves. Dale Carnegie mastered this skill and was the premise of his well-known book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People". So, an effective way to bring out the best in others is to talk less and listen more. This sounds simple but it can challenge our listening skills.

For example, one of your colleagues is going on and on about how much harder they work than everyone else and how no one appreciates their work. Think: what would your initial reaction be? (Annoyed? Angered?) Now, challenge yourself to think about what needs might be motivating this behavior? (Suggestions: need for acceptance, to feel valued, to feel important).

So, while your initial thoughts might be to dismiss your colleague's comments or to "strike back" by talking about how hard you work too, challenge yourself to engage your colleague to meet this need. For example, "Your work must be really important to you to put that much devotion into it, tell me how you do it?"

2. Avoid Telling Others They Are Wrong.

What's it like for you when someone tells you that you are wrong? Does this bring out the best in you or does it bring out defensiveness, feelings of hurt, or disappointment? For most of us, it brings out the later. You can disagree with someone without saying the words "you're wrong".

Try this approach instead: "I see it a little differently than you do", or even, "Tell me more about why you see it that way". Remember, we don't have to agree on everything. It's okay to just see things differently than someone else.

3. Admit It When You Are Wrong.

We all make mistakes. We need to be ok with admitting them. Others likely will respect this and be more understanding and forgiving when we do.

4. Assume Positive Motivations.

As we noted, bringing out the best in others has a lot to do with our assumptions and expectations. If we assume that behavior is motivated out of maliciousness we interact with each other accordingly. If we assume that behavior is motivated out of good or a need, we will interact accordingly.

For example - A colleague gives you a book entitled, "Tasty Recipes for Weight Loss". What assumptions might we make about this gift? How would your assumptions influence future interactions with this colleague?

5. Look for Potential.

It's usually easier for us to see the negative than to see the positive, to see what's missing rather than what's present, and to see what's going wrong rather than what's going right. The good news is we can develop the skill of seeing potential. Nourish potential by providing ways for people to shine, to set people up for success. Even the most challenging person has strengths. If you are challenged, ask others to help you to seek and nourish this person's potential.

6. See Beyond Strong Emotional Reactions.

Remember that strong emotional reactions are likely about fear. Work to see beyond the surface reactions and respond to the fear. This may mean giving yourself some time before you respond to someone. Responding to the surface reaction will only perpetuate a surface discussion and the issue will never get resolved.

The Secret to Engaged Employees

Bringing out the best in others is a win-win situation but it requires a new way of thinking, seeing and interacting. Try one or two of the suggestions above and don't stop until you find strategies that work for you and your co-workers.

Language: Japanese

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Author: Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom

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