For some time now I’ve been coaching someone on management level and today the subject was about “stepping up to the plate”. The biggest difference between coaching management and non-management is the way managers can be addressed and how quick they are ready to “really listen” and act upon what they’ve come to realize. Often there’s more at stake, so all the more reason to change what they’ve become aware of. The common nominator has to do with insecurity as result of changes. Even when working at a high level for a longer period of time, once in a new environment, roles change and become unclear and with this their attitude can change beyond recognition. They suddenly act like non-management, accepting everything that’s required from them to do. Question is whether this is wished for, or not.
All of us have certain skills. A number of people prefer to do whatever has been asked, no more, no less. Then there are those who are very creative and think out of the box. Others are helpful and / or not afraid of taking responsibility. A limited amount of people have the ability to take a step back and see what is already happening and then there are those who can see what is likely to happen, if certain routes will be continued. Take the latter groups who have the ability to “spot” things and combine this with taking responsibility and there is the question of whether or not someone dares to “step up the plate”.
Communication is a difficult subject. Not only do we have to deal with communication at work, but also within our private life. Remarkable is that any issues having to do with communication at work are also recognizable in personal relationships. Coaching management therefore is not only about coaching them at work, but also about how to deal with others in their private lives.
When someone has the ability to spot things others do not, one can argue whether or not they have the responsibility to do something with this skill. Would you be prepared to tell others what you’ve become aware of and, by telling them, support them in the possibility of making changes or would you just leave things the way they are? This question probably is best answered by looking at numerous aspects, starting with “do you feel this to be “justified” ”? If you were to address certain observations, would this feel like you are being a “tattletale” or would this be in the best interest of – say – the company? Is the way you are “exposing” the observations done in a way that is hurtful? Or can you tell in such a way that it’s not to be taken “personally”, won’t have any negative consequences for the people involved and will be beneficial to “all” in the long run?
If we are dealing with people who are not able or not eager to express their thoughts, communication can become very hard all of a sudden. Especially if there are a bunch of people who are not capable of or willing to do so. Would you like to have something changed, because you see it won’t work in the long run, it might be up to you to say it out loud.
Question next becomes if you have the courage to speak up. You might know what it is you want to say, but you simply may not dare to, not knowing whether it would be appreciated or not. By looking at the different possibilities of expressing what it is you want and comparing these to possible outcomes, an overview can be created, helping you decide what would be best for you and others involved. If you are certain the outcome will be positive, the next step is about taking action. Which leads us to the question: Would you be willing to “step up the plate”?
The client, I got to coach, realized that after “becoming aware”, action may be required, but in such a way, this will be acceptable for both him and his surroundings. He is already redefining his role and with it his responsibilities and actions. He’s going to do what he did best, before he changed environments. He’s going to be this observer, gather data and present this to his management-colleagues, accompanied by possible solutions.
When I started out this piece, I was talking about skills and I asked the question, whether or not someone could and would be willing to “step up the plate”. Possible insecurities were discussed, combined with personal thoughts and ethics. One thing got left out. What if you are able to take the next step, but you simply do not “want” to do so? You might want to consider if you are one of those people who has that rare ability to view things for what they are worth. If so, what would it cost you to act on it? What if it were to be beneficial to you? This willingness to look at things from this perspective and the ability to deal with this is what separates the “true managers” from the others. They have what it takes to take that extra mile, stepping up to the plate.