Why coaching is your best option?
By Jean-Christophe Beauvais
A few days ago, the French voted and designated their President for the next 5 years.
During this campaign, there was a lot of talk about the weight of the responsibilities of the President of the Republic, alone at the head of the State, with all the powers that he concentrates and cannot share with anyone.
Willingly attributing it to the peculiarities of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, the journalists often mention the isolation that would systematically affect, according to them, the highest dignitary of the country at the time of taking the heavy decisions incumbent on him in an extremely complex and uncertain environment.
And indeed, to be at the top of the hierarchy is to make heavy decisions, often alone, to play with confidential and sensitive information, to be responsible to the country.
We call it the loneliness of power.
Of course, what applies in politics is transposable to the business world and applies to all business leaders at the very top, alone on the tip of the hierarchical pyramid, legally and financially exposed in case of crisis, responsible for the economic viability of the company towards a headquarter, a board or shareholders.
The subject of isolation nevertheless has two readings that are neither contradictory nor complementary: it is simply necessary to distinguish the situation of “I am alone to lead” from the affective or even pathological corollary “I feel alone and isolated in my role”.
Indeed, a manager is, by nature, alone at the head of his company. His loneliness of the director is very inherent in the function.
It is when it translates into this altitude sickness at the top of the pyramid, this famous feeling of isolation, which leads to the syndrome of loneliness of power.
For the entrepreneur concerned, isolation can increase the risks associated with his function and already present daily.
Most leaders do not spare themselves, working an average of 60 hours a week with the impact that this can have on their personal life and on their health in general and on their mental health in particular: stress, exhaustion, burnout, detachment from the family, psychological suffering…
It is this same stress that can also paralyze the leader in his decisions or lead him to make erroneous decisions, for lack of discernment and anticipation.
For a leader affected in this way, the risk of locking himself in his ivory tower increases and the perception of his team can be negatively affected.
Even if worried, the manager must always look good, always show his poker face so as not to worry the teams. In the long run the teams are not fooled. There is then a risk for the good management of the company, employees imagining that the leader isolates himself to hide something.
And he does hide something: his feeling of isolation, which he thinks he cannot share with anyone and especially not with a member of the structure of the company, even if he trusts.
Communicating about your difficulties would undoubtedly be THE solution to get out of the gear but it is also the most difficult to adopt, because it entails the risk of appearing incompetent or vulnerable. This pushes the leader to entrench himself a little more. Vicious circle and Gordian knot.
Would an external interlocutor allow him to “confess” and externalize his vulnerability without risk to the organization?
For the business leader, for whom admitting his vulnerability is experienced as an unspeakable fault and to be hidden at all costs within the company, a first step could be to exchange with peers, in this case other leaders experiencing the same situation. This can be reflected, for instance, in memberships or participation in networks, fairs, and exhibitions.
Breaking one’s isolation must be based on a personal desire for sharing and openness, and a necessary willingness to admit one’s situation of isolation and the vulnerability it entails. But can it be to those peers I just mentioned?
Undoubtedly, it is possible but uneasy. How often will you see your fellow GM in fairs or exhibitions? Perhaps there are also conflicts of interest (commercial for example) that prevent you from confiding in this or that with another manager.
At this stage of reflection, the use of external coaching is generally the most effective solution.
The coach has the advantage of being outside the company and having an external and neutral look at it, a discussion that would prove much more difficult with a colleague, a relative, or a counterpart.
For the manager, admitting his vulnerability will certainly be effective, but it is also a huge taboo: letting Coaching create a space of freedom where the client can express his feelings without fear. For there is no judgment in the relationship, as judgment is part of what initially led the leader to isolate himself.
Following an accompaniment also allows you to freely discuss your weaknesses without stakes of postures or power.
The coach is not there to replace the leader but to help him to take a step back, to ask the right questions, to project himself into the future. The sessions are an opportunity for the manager to reflect on his talents, the strategy of his company, etc.
These regular exchanges give a healthy breath of fresh air to the entrepreneur and take him out of his loneliness.
And the sessions must allow the rapid implementation of action plans and behavioral strategies.
In a nutshell:
– the loneliness of the leader is rather classic on the structural level, as it is inherent in his position.
– but when it leads to pathological isolation, there is no point in fighting it head-on to defeat it at all costs, when the use of coaching is out there: available, confidential, and effective.
What if softness became a practice to cultivate change?
Softness caresses the skin of a newborn, brushes a lover’s cheek, writes an I love you on a post-it note, smells a warm bun and remembers, warms through a sunny window, consoles a scratched knee, discreetly offers a tissue, knows how to hold or just give a hand, listens to what words don’t say, smiles when we are speechless, observes what we don’t take the time to see, whispers to the soul…
Softness is silent for a moment, listens to a wrinkled brow, says you are always right on time when you call, shares itself eye to eye, is nourished by the sight of a sleeping child… Softness touches a relationship in its most intimate depth. It surprises by its truth. It crosses our cracks, illuminates our shadows. Softness suspends time, misunderstanding, fear, judgment, hate, ego, identity, it watches over the unexpected.
Enigmatic force, it combines tact, subtlety, reserve and discretion. Anne Dufourmantelle in her marvelous work on The Power of Softness describes it with depth and delicacy.
“From animality, it keeps the instinct, from childhood the enigma, from prayer the appeasement, from nature the unpredictability, from light the light.” Where to find softness? “Underneath is the softness, lurking. Under every looked at thing, just the line underneath, it’s there, under every touched thing, every word spoken, every gesture begun, like the melodic line that accompanies a sung line.”
What if we let ourselves be cherished by softness? Knowing how to receive it, loving to give it. What if softness became a practice to cultivate change, to cross the abyss of indifference?
Just when we are about to pass cross through the famous “Watch your step”, it would delicately whisper to our mind: “Pause”, to let us be surprised by its creative energy, in family, at school, with friends and even at work…
To all Men and Women, lovers of humanity, eager for strong sensations, I make a call to experience softness!
Would the coach be a black & white photographer?
I’m a coach, it’s my job and I’m passionate about it. I am also a photographer; amateur certainly but just as passionate.
So here are two passions: contradictory, complementary or … indifferent to each other?
Ted Grant, the father of the Canadian photojournalist, said: “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls. »
Would the coach be a black and white photographer?
1. But to start with, a little news and current events:
Among the new trends in Coaching, both in France and abroad, we find the development of niche coaching: and there, there is already a “new” profession, coaching for photographers! Confreres have specialized in the accompaniment of photographers (professionals I suppose). Interesting, of course. Fun, for sure. But beyond the anecdote, specialization in our profession is a heavy trend to consider.
In parallel and more surprisingly, it seems that there are now service offers from “Photographers for Coaches” (true story). The circle is closed and at least these two professionals will be able to barter: if you coach me, I’ll shoot you a few portraits and vice versa.
In the news, more seriously, since the pandemic and the changes in behavior it has introduced, both professions have the same “concern” (understatement…): customers understand less the added value of a professional. Social networks have taken over in 2020 and between the fashion effects and the multiplication of pixels on our mobile phones or tablets, everyone proclaims themselves a photographer. The same is true for coaches: at the end of the pandemic, it seemed that anyone, without a base, experience, diploma, or qualifications, could proclaim themselves a coach. But this is a topic that deserves to be dealt with in another article.
2. In theory, the analysis of an image (or our client) is done through an approach that can be divided into three steps:
– Objectively describe what you see.
– Contextualize: what we know about the image or the client.
– Interpret but do not criticize what is deduced from the two previous elements.
With this in mind, the coach and the photographer must be sensitive (from 1600 to 3200 ASA) and passionate, it is a minimum. But they must also be benevolent with their subject, in front of whom they both pose as observers.
Together they ask themselves the essential question: how to best approach the subject, how to “treat” it, how to “frame” it, how to “make it stand out”, how to help the elements in front of them to present themselves in the best way, or the most original, or why not the most absurd… but always waiting for a result that transcends the subject while giving him back control.
And in the vocabulary of image and coaching, only similarities: analysis of the depth of the plane (foreground, foreground, background), but also context or plans-scenery (general, wide, or overall plan), which embraces a wide field of vision.
And they can choose at any time to change their angle of view: the coach will be able to perform a 360 where the photographer will take a panoramic view, while keeping an eye in the viewfinder.
They use different lighting, change the framing, highlight the contrasts, and focus on the session… and should not forget, if they use filters, to take them into account when observing the subject.
Finally, they take care of the resolution by avoiding saturation. Decidedly these two were made to get along: so much the better, otherwise it was schizophrenia!
Hello, Hi, Hey, Hi, Good morning, How are you? What’s up? A hand shake, hands joining, shaking, clapping, a hug, a few kisses, 1, 2, 3 or 4 kisses, a smile, a look, a reverence… so many ways to greet each other, to recognize each other, to tell the other person that they exist, to open up to the other.
Saying hello is an outward sign of recognition and civility to the person in front of us. A simple definition that manifests itself at every moment of our lives in countless ways.
How do we say hello? Have we ever thought about the impact of those few seconds when humans meet, souls cross paths and hearts speak?
As a former teacher and now a convinced coach, I am familiar with two marvellous professions at the service of human beings. The multitude of common points between these two worlds fascinates me: relationship, listening, presence, rules, autonomy, feedback, self-regulation, trust, respect, responsibility, integrity, humanity, limiting beliefs, cognitive biases, complexity, systemic, pragmatism, complexity, co-learning, silence… And so many others! Only one desire, to make them meet, to know each other, to mix them.
Some of these concepts are already widely studied and proposed in training within the French education system. Charles Hadji, for example, convinces us of the benefits of self-regulation. His 10 tracks presented are each an invitation to use and abuse this pedagogical concept: one of the paths to responsibility and autonomy, without a doubt. The links between these two worlds are really starting to be woven, and school coaching is already appearing in the work of the French National Education.
Without trampling on the work that has been started, let’s reflect together, for the time being, on the first moments of an encounter. What if a hello had therapeutic and pedagogical virtues? In coaching, the hello is the first point of the conversation: simple, not fancy, essential, never optional.
And at school, what do we do with this Hello?
With this question about the benefits of Good Morning, I am now concerned about the well-being of teachers and students. I wonder, when I was a teacher, if I thought at the beginning of the class to be well, to make sure that my students were in the necessary conditions to participate serenely in the pedagogical activities…
Jean-Jacques Rousseau already said: “Dare I state here the greatest, the most important, the most useful rule of all education? It is not to gain time, it is to lose time.”
Wasting time when the programs are so full of knowledge and skills to impart…
Nancy Kline explains that we need to allow time to let go of our emotions before we can expect to think clearly. This is especially important in the educational context because education is very fertile in terms of emotions, including fear, preoccupation with others’ gaze, and various degrees of anxiety. The repression of emotions hinders rational thinking.
Good morning, enriched by a fine systemic observation, is a liberator of emotions: a word, a question, a smile, a hand on the shoulder, a look… In other words: welcoming students with their emotions, having a sustained attention would awaken intelligence. Putting attention in our Good Morning.
What more can we put into it?
When we really look into someone’s eyes, it is impossible for us to think of anyone else… Don’t believe me, try it! Very often, it is not the light that is missing in our eyes, it is our eyes that lack light. Put light in our eyes, in our Hello.
And what else?
Presence to the other…. It resonates with maximum openness, a firm intention to accompany, the ability to accept light and darkness, the acceptance of jumping into the void and being in the not knowing; “When I am present, you are.
Putting presence in our Hello.
Jean-Paul Belmondo gives us a fundamental lesson in Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté: “Learning to say Bonjour is one of the most important things in life”, this extract is iconic.
Let’s choose to slide into our Bonjour some attention, some light, some presence, but above all what defines us, what we are, simply, in all humility, in full awareness with kindness that speaks!
A multitude of teachers from elementary to high school are already consciously concerned about this Hello, it is a reality. Humanity is widely present in our schools, I share their words:
“I say Hello individually with eye contact, I care about it a lot.”
“I say Hello to them with a smile in front of the door, even if they don’t answer me, we can all arrive with our bad mood!”
“I squat down, mine are very small, a hello to each: I want them to answer me, I like their Hello. Then I slam the door and greet them all, it’s the gong!”
“I say Hello to them individually in the schoolyard, it allows me to listen to their little and big stories, there are so many things going on in their lives. The beginning of the day is my favorite time with them!”
“In the classroom I always make two or three more personalized, anodyne comments so they see that I’m watching them: did you change your haircut, did you not bring a sweater? Be careful not to be cold. You are very smiley, I see you happy to start math class…”
“Hello kids, how are you doing? Answers in thumbs up, thumbs down, or upside down. This is also a time for oral interaction to hear what’s going well and what’s not…”
“I greet the students already in the classroom while waiting for others to enter, and address one or a few students individually if I have specific information to share with them.
Then, “Good morning everyone, I hope you are well…” and I immediately give the topic we are going to discuss, straightforwardly, as well as the format of the session. From then on, roll call is taken, which allows us to greet each student and get their attention.
Just before I walk out the door, I discreetly arrange my hair and greet the floor supervisor.”
“I am one of those people who believes that listening to the student is essential without going overboard.
I don’t have any special preparation beforehand, I am, nothing else.”
I want to get into their whole class, how lucky their students are!
I salute all those teachers who waste time,
I salute all those teachers who choose to listen and be present,
I salute all those teachers who never stop looking for excellence and humanity for their students,
I salute all those teachers who salute their students!
And if coaching would inspire all those involved in education, students, teachers, parents, to be fully aware and to take the time to do good, to do good to each other in order to make our children fully free, equal and fraternal beings… already in front of Good Morning!
“Always be the first to say hello”
– H. Jackson Brown