Clyde C. Lowstuter
CEO Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Master Certified Coach (MCC)
I can teach you how to play par golf in minutes.
Actually, shooting par is pretty straightforward. On a par-4 hole, you get on the green in two and putt out in two. On a par-5 hole, you get on in three and have a two-putt. Simply put, if you continue this process for all 18 holes, you will – I guarantee – shoot par. Playing par golf is simple; it’s just not easy. Therein, lies the rub. While I shared with you the what of shooting par, I did not help you with how you are going to accomplish such a daunting task.
Myth and Reality – A True Tale
We run into this phenomenon all the time; dealing with the delta between the what and the how of enlightened leadership.
We were engaged by Joan* to provide Executive Coaching to Sam*, a rising star on her executive team. Joan was lamenting that Sam, a bright, highly assertive young executive was not performing to his potential and past track record. Additionally, it was increasingly apparent that Sam’s lack of interpersonal savvy was becoming disruptive in the organization. Despite protests to the contrary, Joan assured us that she clearly told Sam what to do and he didn’t change.
Our experience often reveals a different reality that has the proverbial two sides. The first dimension is that Joan thought that she was very clear about the issue and its adverse impact – and that Sam fully understood. The reality involves one of the following possibilities: (1) Joan might well have been talking in such a convoluted manner that the message was largely lost and not understood. Or, (2) Joan may have “powered up” so that Sam was feeling hit over the head with a 2X4 and was scrambling to make sense of it. As such, he couldn’t fully absorb the information if his life depended on it. (Personally, I’ve been there; experienced that).
The second dimension is that while Joan might have clearly identified that issue – the what – Sam may not have the adaptive coping skills to appropriately change to Joan’s expectations. That’s the “How.” Like playing par golf, therein lies the rub. While the gap between the concepts of what and how might seem like mere logistics to some, to others this delta can be huge.
The reality is that all of us intend to do well. Indeed, most people know what to do (be interpersonally skilled, for instance); they just don’t know how to be so. Without solid feedback, Sam became even more dominant and driven to achieve results no matter the cost. In the absence of objective executive coaching, Sam was employing those skills that accelerated his advancement earlier in his career, but now were accelerating his derailment.
We taught Sam to be more assertive in managing himself, not others, while ratcheting down his power. When he minimized his domineering Command and Control leadership style and shifted to be more Collaborative and Cooperative, Sam began to bridge the gap between what he needed to learn and how to be more authentic and engaging with his team. In the process of becoming the leader he always wanted to be, Sam discovered that his team was much more talented than he had previously thought. And through his turnaround, Joan felt the same about Sam.
Anyone up for a round of par golf?
*No real names are used to protect our client’s confidentially.