Teaching Leadership LO7023

Martin Charles Raff (martin@vistaraff.win-uk.net)
Sun, 28 Apr 1996 17:40:18

Replying to LO7001 --

The discussion on this topic has, very enjoyably, stimulated my
thinking about leadership in general and, in particular, about one
aspect of leadership - the generally accepted idea that the proper
new paradigm relationship requires leaders act as coaches to the
people they are responsible for.

I actually doubt whether it is possible for leaders to be effective
coaches to their people - for two reasons.

Firstly unless the leader has just left the job the person he is
responsible for is doing he will know much less about it than the
person doing it. Any attempt to 'coach' will create a worsened
relationship between the two. Either the follower will have to
pretend that the leader is helping him (when that is not the case)
or the follower will have to tell the leader that the coaching is
not being helpful.

Secondly, it is, I believe, virtually impossible for the follower in
a hierarchy to be regularly 'coached' by the leader without feeling
a sense of helpless subordinateness, and inferiority, however
kindly and tactful the leader's coaching approach is.

The result of this sort of coaching is therefore always, at least in
the longer term, alienation and resentment.

But I think there is a way in which leaders and their people can
learn together. If the leader accepts that the follower brings
knowledge and experience which is at least as relevant to the issue
under discussion as that of the leader, they can share their
learning on the basis of valuing each others contributions and
learning from each other.

This may seem a fairly obvious as a way to behave for members of 'learning
org' but it is not the way that leaders and followers traditionally expect
to interact - normally the leader is expected to know better. Nor have I
seen this way of behaving described by advocates of coaching as a
leadership function.


Martin Raff VISTA Consulting - for a better future martin@vistaraff.win-uk.net phone and fax: +44-1789 840418

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>