“The minute you begin to do what you want to do, it’s a different kind of life.” Buckminster Fuller
Many years ago I was a director of a small engineering company developing an innovative public transport system.
The company and the product had been created by an inventor.
Unfortunately, although he was indeed a talented inventor and a competent engineer, he fancied himself as chief executive. This was not his strength and the company suffered for it.
One of my heroes is Alec Issigonis, the creator of the Mini car. He was in a similar position but had the wisdom to refuse to join the Austin Morris management hierarchy – and the world has benefited as a result.
I could also be in such a position, having successfully developed and delivered programmes for teaching coaching and corporate governance/director development.
There has been plenty of good feedback about the structure of the programmes. Structure is my strength.
The question I have asked is, “Could this be delivered without me?” The delegates definitely benefited from the depth of my understanding of the theory beneath it.
However, my next question was, “Should this be delivered by me?”
I love teaching but there are others who are naturally better at it than I am. I believe that I am particularly good at facilitation and that this is because of my ability to structure the process.
But, whereas structure in facilitation is dynamic and must be held in my head throughout an event, the structure of a workshop is held in the trainer’s notes and the delegates workbooks.
There is value in keeping hands-on experience but for many managers and entrepreneurs there is danger of holding on too tightly to that which we know best. This is not necessarily the best use of talent, and it can limit progress and frustrate the development of other staff.
“There is nothing about a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Buckminster Fuller
“Children are our elders in Universe time.“ Buckminster Fuller
”I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby
When I met Deepak Chopra some years ago he told us about happiness. Apparently, we are programmed to naturally complain, or to see opportunities.
50% of this programming is determined in the first three years of life, though it can be changed with time and application.
The other 50% is more directly under our own control. It depends on our conditions for living – do we have enough, or, rather, do we believe that we have enough?
What voluntary choices do we make; how do we obtain personal pleasure; how do we achieve meaning and fulfilment; what is our purpose; how do we express our creativity?
He suggested that we could increase our sense of community by attending organised events, connecting with people with shared passions and volunteering for four hours a week.
Later I listened to a Buddhist talking about karma. We create our own karma, he said. An act can become a habit. Habit can form character and character influences destiny.
So, start with small changes …
“Perfection can be a fetish” Bernard Leach
You can be a director and a manager in the same organisation.
It is really important to recognise that these are different roles: you must act as two different people.
If you are a director and not a manager in the same organisation, then you have to understand the boundaries between the board and the management.
Directors direct – and managers manage!
Nonetheless, the board is responsible for the management’s actions and performance.
The board remains responsible for overall governance. This includes ensuring senior management establish and maintain adequate systems of risk management and that the level of capital held is consistent with the risk profile of the organisation.
So, the board needs to have a clear strategy of what to delegate to management and how to monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies, strategies and business plans.
The responsibility to act and decide upon matters for action in between meetings of the board may be delegated to an executive committee.
In general the board will delegate the management of the organisation to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Managing Director (MD).
The CEO/MD is responsible for delivering services according to the strategic plan, within the policies and budgets approved by the board. A team of managers oversee the day-to-day operations of the organisation under the general direction of the CEO/MD.
Delegation to the CEO/MD
Here is an example of a board delegating authority to the CEO/MD over the day to day management of the company, its subsidiaries and their respective operations. This delegation of authority includes responsibility for:
Does your organisation have a clear strategy for delegating authority to management, including reports and measurements that enable the board to monitor performance?
When I have been training with Larry Gilman, one of his techniques was to get the whole room to support the person on the stage.
Larry has a knack of helping people discover latent feelings from the past. Very often these might be emotions of anger or resentment against another party; maybe someone who has since died.
He encourages them to verbalise and state their feelings in a way that they were unable to do at the time. What he then does is to get everyone in the room to shout out the same anger or abuse, so that the person being helped has a really intense experience of expressing their emotions.
I was reminded of this, recently, when reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The book is about spirituality and the example is about divorce. However, I think that the concept could be used in a coaching situation with a client with a sense that they did not deserve something – not an uncommon situation.
Elizabeth complains to her friend Iva about her husband’s inability to make a decision about their divorce.
“I don’t think I can endure another year in court. I wish I could get some divine intervention here. I wish I could write a petition to God, asking for this thing to end.”
Iva listened politely, then asked, “Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent – you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. believe me – it will at least be taken into consideration.”
Elizabeth then wrote her petition and read it out to Iva, and she nodded her approval.
“I would sign that,” she said.
“Now who else would sign it? she asked.
“My family. My mother and father. My sister.”
“OK,” she said. “They just did. Consider their names added. I actually felt them sign it. They’re on the list now. OK – who else would sign it? Start naming names.”
They then went through a long list, including Bill and Hilary Clinton and people from history. In each case it was clear that they would sign it, and they were deemed to have done so.
Eventually, there was such a long list of supporters that Elizabeth just had to believe that it would happen. And, in fact her phone rang soon afterwards to confirm that her husband had just signed the papers.
Whether or not you believe in the power of the universe, it seems to me that this is a pretty good way of building a case that will overcome anyone’s sense of unworthiness, or strengthen a belief in a vision. I intend to use it with some of my own goals.
Much of my career over the last two decades has been based on processes that I learned through NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP). In consultancy, facilitation and coaching I find these really powerful, and a select few are regular members of my toolkit.
But it nearly did not happen. There is a process called “Setting well formed outcomes”. This is so powerful that when I first give out the sheet of eight questions I tell people that this could be the most valuable sheet of paper they will ever touch.
The first question requires people to say what they want. It has to be stated in the positive.
You would think that was simple enough. But when I did my NLP Certificate test nearly 20 years ago I failed on this very question. The key is to recognise what you want – and not what you don’t want. Repeatedly I answered what I didn’t want, I couldn’t understand the difference and I failed the test.
Unless I passed this test I could not have gone on to the further training that has formed the basis for my business.
Fortunately, two of the trainers took me aside and after several attempts I suddenly saw the light, and they gave me my certificate.
Focusing on what you do want is key to coaching. Before you can have what you want, you must know what you want.
Unfortunately, finding out is often not as simple as it seems and knowing what you want in life can be a major challenge.
The core purpose of Brefi Group is to “help individuals and teams in organisations discover and achieve their potential so that they can be more effective with less stress”. It is our passion to help people achieve their potential, but first they must discover it.
Coaches and other professionals in the personal development field may well make it their life’s work to decide their mission and purpose. However, this is much less likely to be true for their clients.
So, learning to notice when people talk in negative terms is really important for a coach.
My whole career has been based on failing to understand this.
Thirty years ago when I was a management student in Cardiff I was convinced that I did not want to work in London. So I took the easy way out and stayed where I was by becoming a consultant.
In fact, if I had had a coach who had asked me what opportunities might there be for working in cities other than London, I might have had a successful career in the corporate world.
In fact, one of my colleagues on the course immediately obtained a director role at the Welsh Development Agency – in Cardiff. And, many years later, I had a short career in charge of director development for an international engineering group in Solihull – where I had grown up.
So, remember to insist on asking positive questions and getting positive answers.