The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg

The Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around YouThe Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around You by Max Landsberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This little book is written in a narrative style, and is about a guy called Alex who learns how to successfully apply the principles of coaching as a business manager and departmental leader. At first Alex is a people-eater, a caricature of a driving high-D manager who rolls over people to get results. Thanks to some good advice from some surprisingly gracious and lovely colleagues, Alex is slowly transformed into a much more sophisticated manager and leader of people, and at the end of the book we wait atop tenterhooks to find out if he’s made it to the company top table (I won’t spoil this review by revealing that he does make it).

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Leadership and the One Minute Manager (Situational Leadership) by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi

Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership (Hardcover)Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership by Ken Blanchard (Author) Patricia Zigarmi (Author) Drea Zigarmi (Author)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the One Minute Manager series I’ve read, and I haven’t yet decided if it’ll be the last. I am doubtful, not because of the substance of this slim volume, but because of its grating style.

It’s written like a story where the main character, an insufferably smug “One Minute Manager”, advises a wide-eyed “Entrepreneur” about management and leadership. The Entrepreneur is led around to meet members of the OMM’s top team, learning that our hero doesn’t treat everyone the same way. In fact, he goes out of his way to diagnose each individual’s development level (the situation), and then respond accordingly with the right mix of directive and supportive management (the leadership).

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Creating a learning organization

There are many reasons why the learning organization remains so tantalizingly elusive.

Like any big idea that’s about intangible stuff like culture and attitude, the concept suffers from being a bit wishy-washy and vulnerable to the told-you-so cynicism of those whose myopic vision rarely extends beyond tomorrow’s bottom line. And anyway, being both intangible and vanishingly rare, it’s not always that easy to spot even if you achieve it. (1)

It also asks people, employees and managers (managers are people too), to behave in ways that are not necessarily in their own short-term best interests. It requires people to be mature, professional, think long-term, share and collaborate, and create safe environments where people can make mistakes and learn.

Not only that, it’s a staggeringly ambitious vision for an organization. The standard definitions offer a glittery utopian future that few would see as undesirable, but most would fail to even know where to start, let alone be able to put together a coherent programme that would impress the finance department.

So, I thought I’d solve this problem by developing a three-stage definition that would also serve as a road-map.

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Using Schutz for group training

All you need to do to create a group is get some individual people and shove them together.

That’s it.

There is no additional ingredient required, no further information, just a bunch of individual people … and yet when that group forms, it is quite different from the sum of the individual parts.

The individuals within the group are different animals than when they’re on their own, they have different needs and will tend to try to satisfy those needs in different ways.

William Schutz came up with the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) theory (way back in 1958) to look at this very question.

Seeing as most training is done in groups, I wanted to see how this applies to training and what specific concrete tools we can use to help with the group-identification needs of training delegates.

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The Boris Johnson guide to workplace motivation

I have to say these comments reveal a fairly unpleasant, careless elitism that somehow suggests we should give up on a whole swath of fellow citizens

That was UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who went on to say:

To talk about us as if we are a sort of breed of dogs, a species I think he calls it …

We are a species Nick, and a breed of dogs isn’t a species … I’m not clear on what the danger of using this sort of language is …

the danger is …

… go on …

…if you start taking such a deterministic view of people because they have got a number attached to them, in this case an IQ number, they are not going to rise to the top of the cornflake packet

He was talking about Boris Johnson’s speech at the Centre for Policy Studies last week (see here for the full text in the Telegraph).

Boris Johnson

I think most people would agree that a Huxley-esque world where everyone in our species knows their place, and no-one can fight for a better position in the Cornflake packet, is a bad thing … but what made me consider this appropriate fodder for this blog was Boris’s decision to trumpet the glories of envy and greed as good workplace motivators.

… some measure of inequality is essential for the spirit of envy and keeping up with the Joneses that is, like greed, a valuable spur to economic activity

As David Lammy (Labour’s most likely candidate for London Mayor) said:

It’s extraordinary for a mayor … to think it’s all right to glorify greed – a greed that has brought a banking collapse and caused misery and hardship to many …

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