Coach's VIEW

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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."

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

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Language: Japanese

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