It takes a man and a horse to make a change

3 05 2011

(or at least that is what an Afrikaner friend told me once; in other words that change is real, hard work, and that if you don’t apply yourself, change will not just happen)

I am feeling a little like Rip van Winkle just now.

After long since coming to the conclusion that I just didn’t have the temperament or interest to be a coach, because everything I read or heard on the subject seems to be far too subjective and inward for me to relate to, I now wake up, stroking my (entirely metaphorical, but it has been a while; time for change?) long white beard and find myself surrounded by books on coaching – especially organisational and leadership team coaching – that are all about 1) establishing clarity of mission and 2) the relentless (but appropriately reflective) pursuit of objective outcomes in support of that mission. How long have I been asleep?

I am sure I am being unfair. In fact, I have observed that anything – any approach, like coaching – which has the capacity to bring about real change tends to get diverted down less challenging sidings pretty quickly; so maybe what I am perceiving now is actually coaching getting back to its origins. I had a similar experience listening to someone describing Action Learning sets recently; for the first time in years it actually sounded like Action Learning (people sharing their real world problems and inviting challenging questioning input from their peers in pursuit of new insight and learning) and not a mutual support circle (someone in a very large organisation called it “group moaning” in my hearing).

So what? People’s lives and time and energy get consumed by organisations. If that – literally – awesome consumption of life and creative energy is simply keeping a hamster wheel turning and a small bulb lit on some trading board somewhere, better it never happened at all. If on the other hand, leaders and followers alike commit to missions that make a difference and are prepared to be accountable individually and collectively in making the real man-and-a-horse change required, then that is an organisation worth getting out of bed for; and if coaching is about helping to facilitate that accountable progress, count me in.

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