Even when they are highly competent, experienced and committed, managers and executives can still fail to deliver the required and expected performance.
The complex and competitive forces let loose by a global economy demand of most organisations and institutions, an unrelenting pace and a constant need to adapt very often and very quickly. What started off as an adrenalin rush with the exciting challenge of exploiting the opportunities offered by a new order has for many enterprises become an uncertain and unsettling world.
In concert, the work life of managers and executives has become unpredictable and unstable, simultaneously creating opportunities for advancement and derailment. On the downside their coping resources are increasingly and more severely overtaxed. Anxiety levels escalate and ineffective behaviour patterns start to emerge. They wind up and their decision making ability falters, they lose focus and interpersonal relationships with their boss, colleagues, clients, friends and family deteriorate. Somewhere something starts to give, usually in unpredictable and surprising ways. Protective psycho dynamic forces latent in all of us, come into play and in one form or another, defensive actions emerge – and for as long as they last, positive and creative contributions to the business and the job at hand fall off.
When this happens, a very special kind of personal make-over is required.
On the upside they become today's and tomorrow's business heroes, seizing the day with game breaking ideas, or successfully leading their organisations through mergers and transformations to the achievement of future visions. However, with a few exceptions, their peak performance is short lived – they reach a threshold. Numerous examples and case studies show that in the end the relentless pressure for exponential results will take its toll and wind them up, be it in the form of early retirement, shattered personal lives, emotional exhaustion, or moral decay . . .
Unless, personal growth of a very special kind takes place.
The growth required of all key staff, is that of expanded self awareness – discovery of the unconscious dynamics of their behaviour, their blind spots – that in turn stimulates the curiosity and the courage to re-examine their fundamental assumptions and beliefs in performing their managerial and executive roles. It is only through knowing their own 'inner workings' that people come to understand their organisational environment and how to perform effectively in the roles they are required to play. Self awareness is fundamental to personal growth. It enables individuals to choose their responses to perceptions and feelings and allows them to reframe their actions to be more congruent with the goals they want or need to achieve. Self Awareness is the necessary pre-condition for mastery role, which in turn leads to enhanced capacity organisational
Personal growth of this kind usually, and by definition, needs to be facilitated by a second party: the coach – and the process of coaching: the dialogue between coach and coachee. Most senior level staff tend to forge ahead regardless, narrowly attending to their busy daily schedules and are often unable or unwilling to take time to reflect on their actions and the underlying 'personal stuff'. Successful executives and managers specifically, are prone to argue that they have progressed to their current positions without the help of a coach and that their commitment, education, experience and know-how have worked well. Perhaps they are unaware of their real potential to grow, or just do not see the cliff ahead.
In South Africa our democracy and the subsequent drive for EE and BEE has brought an additional dimension of opportunities and challenges to executive and managerial roles. HDI's are on a very fast career track, often without the advantage of the systematic development of skills and experience and find themselves in managerial and executive roles with mixed feelings: on the one hand excited and eager – and on the other apprehensive, wondering whether they are quite ready for the job. The previously advantaged managers and executives find themselves having to deal with a new dispensation with regard to career advancement and face the challenges of having to make difficult decisions in terms of how and where they pursue their future.
All key staff face the reality of heavy workloads and the responsibility of having to take the lead in building interpersonal relationships and weaving a social fabric to repair the enforced fragmentation of the past. To deny the burden of such a role – and make only light of it, maybe an example of insufficient insight into human psychodynamics.
The need for coaching is clear. Accelerated training and development programmes alone, just won't cut it.