Situational leadership LO6498

Rol Fessenden (
07 Apr 96 22:41:47 EDT

Replying to LO6454 --

I said:
>...Being a coach is one of these stages. In other stages, other skills are
>needed. It is analogous to some extent with being a parent. The art of
>parenthood is knowing when to let go and how much to let go. Learning to
>ride a bike is not so different from becoming a fully functional,
>high-performing professional.

To which Keith Cowan responded:

> Further to my last response, the description of desired outcomes applies
to fourth stage professionals, in other words, there must be at least one
of them in the group being empowered. In the bike example, it is possibe
to move through all four stages relatively quickly.

I agree that most people want their professional staff to be performing in
the fourth stage. I guess that is because they experience it so rarely
that they do not understand that there can be a fifth stage. In my view,
the fifth stage begins when a person in the fourth stage -- fully
functioning professional -- takes responsibility unilaterally to fix
things that are outside their scope, but which inhibit their performance.
Thye _take_ empowerment, and in the process they become high-performing
individuals. They can also be mistaken for leaders, perhaps because they

A manager who is managing a person in the fourth stage is no longer
functioning as a coach, and even less so for the person who has entered
the fifth stage. That does not mean, however, that the manager is
irrelevant. In fact, I suspect they are more important than ever in
helping a person make the transition from stage 4 to stage 5. These are
inherently far more difficult transitions than the lower ones.

Keith goes on:

> What many organization do by mistake is set out all the rules on how to
ride the bike, train people in class, then demand that they make NO
mistakes while executing the rules as they try to master riding it. In the
process of being intolerant to errors, they turn lots of people off who
then stop trying to learn to ride...

You are right on the money. There is not much understanding in the world
at large, and certainly not in corporations, that learning proceeds by
stages. It is only once you have achieved the newest heights that you can
begin to see the next set of challenges.

Thank you for the feedback.


Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc.

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