Wednesday 19 August 2020

Crafty Leadership and a Crafty Coach

One of my coaching clients said something a few weeks ago that has been rattling around in my head ever since. He was talking about some aspect of his skill set that he was working on, and said 'I think of it as a craft: something that I have to keep working on, and improve through practice.' 

That struck me as a very wise observation. One of the ways in which I think many academics get frustrated, when it comes to leadership and interpersonal skills development, is to think that knowing how to do something confers the ability to do it. Of course, they don't express it quite like that; indeed I think that it is more an implicit assumption, than a well-formed opinion of belief.  It is also, I realise on reflection, the assumption that I find most problematic in the (otherwise excellent) work of Nancy Kline, about which I have regularly enthused in previous posts.

And what concerns me is the degree to which I collude with that. I often assume, for example during a coaching or training session, that once someone has 'got it' (intellectually) that is my job done. Yet I know from my own experience  that it is not that simple.

So one of the things I am going to focus on, in the coming months, is to keep my attention on supporting the leaders I work with in becoming crafty leaders: leaders who are working to develop habits of good practice by repeated practice and reflection. And for me, part of that is not to get so excited to move onto the next interesting topic for exploration and forget the last thing we discussed.

And in a slightly sad circular fashion, I recognise that this is no new insight for me, either. Indeed, my ManyStory approach has a significant section that is dedicated to this: Enriching the Plot of the new and more helpful story.

So the meta-learning here, of course, is that I need to be a crafty coach, and keep working on those aspects of my craft that I am fully aware of intellectually, but don't always have as habitual behaviours.  Aristotle would be pleased with me...

With thanks to Dominik Scythe, Alexander Andrews and Daniil Kuzelev for sharing their photography on Unsplash

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