When I am conducting programs where I am teaching managers how to be effective coaches, the most frequent question I am asked is, “How do I get my employees to do what I need them to do?” Most of these managers are racing around on a daily basis moving from one activity to the next. They are always on their way somewhere else. My role is to get them to stop and pay attention. I accomplish this with a provocative question. I ask each person to look in a mirror. I then tell them that they are looking at the answer to their question. There is usually stunned silence at first. Then the teaching begins.
The managers in front of me begin to see that they must first awaken compassion, purpose, and meaning in themselves before they can awaken it in others. The ultimate realization for them is that it is not possible to give to another what you don’t have. Once the endless motion they have placed themselves in stops, a shift begins to happen. By leaning away from the noise in their head, progress is made step-by-step. The nonstop voice that says the employee is the problem stops. Old patterns of behaviors that do not work now seem futile and new approaches crystallize.
Each manager starts putting down their judgments and conclusions so they can look anew at the person they need to coach. It actually takes immense courage for many of these managers to step out of their trance and stay awake at every moment in our time together. With practice over the course of a few days, I watch managers tear down the old patterns of behavior, discover what has always been right and true about themselves and the person they are wanting to coach, and weave something new for both persons. The managers learn that what they give to themselves they also give to others effortlessly. When was the last time you held up a mirror to yourself?