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coaching leadership

Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have

One of my foundational beliefs as a leader and a coach is that people are well resourced. Internally. They’ve got everything they need to achieve the results they desire.

If you disagree, I would encourage you to think of a time when you showed a specific skill in a different context, and you hadn’t thought of using them in a new context. Can you? I remember the first time I applied my skills from Chess, Go, and Othello to Jiu-Jitsu. Yes, concepts from board games to the mats with a real, resisting opponent!

If you’ve played any (or all if you’re a nerd like me) of those classic games, you know the strategy is simple — make your move, surround, and conquer. And that’s precisely how you attack an opponent in Jiu-Jitsu! You off-balance or misdirect your opponent to set up the attack, secure a position, and go for the kill!

Of course, I don’t mean that literally. But the point is that our subconscious is highly intelligent. It has all the information, context, and direction one needs to achieve what the mind believes. The challenge is that most people aren’t highly conscious nor aware of their inner resources or how to tap into them. And worse, some tend to think in terms of “we either have it or not” and submit to that belief.

A person’s attitude, ability, and behavior can be influenced if they are curious enough to explore. And that’s where I believe a leader comes in the picture. The onus is onto them to work with the key players to raise their self-consciousness or awareness. They don’t have to be a professional coach for that. A few key mental models and maps are all that they need to structure and facilitate the process.

Every human ability is transferable, as we are all human beings and therefore have roughly the same hardware. With the necessary willingness, effort, and dedication, you can structure your own subjective experience in the same way as the model you want to match.

Richard Bandler, Co-founder of NLP

Assuming people are resourceful also allows leaders to focus on what is rather than what should be, which in my opinion is a great leadership trait. The mere understanding that people can only do what they can from their level of awareness and belief opens pathways to a greater understanding of their peers. I mean think about it — if both awareness and beliefs are limited, they can only do and achieve so much!

And what’s tragic is that most people don’t even know what resources they have at their disposal. As leaders (and of course, coaches!), one of our biggest responsibilities is to enable people to access their internal resources.

Essentially, everything boils down to a leader’s intent and willingness to commit to the process. I always get the, “… but Sunil, I don’t have all the time in the world to help my peers and direct reports,” when I propose my ideas around leadership development. Or perhaps, a version of “I need to fire these people because they don’t get it or have it in them.” And I’ve heard it enough to push-back and make them think about their biggest responsibility: not just to make the stakeholders happy, but to develop the leaders around them.

You don’t find time for your core responsibilities. You make time for it and it begins with having the belief that the people below you are resourceful enough to be great leaders.