Leaders today need a mirror, not just for self-reflection, but to counteract blind-spots.

Blind-spots occur because we have limitations to our senses, especially vision, and objects behind us are invisible without assistance, via a rear-view mirror or the perspective of an outsider.

Perceptual block-outs extend way beyond vision, though, including all the senses – dogs and bats hear frequencies we don’t even register, for instance. It seems we really need others (umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu), in order to see what we otherwise would miss completely. And this is a perpetual need, not a transient, once-off remedy.

The Johari Window, developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, is a representation of this phenomenon, with the blindspot found where information “known to others” is “not known by self”. It follows, then, that advisors are essential to growth, and mentors and coaches are commonly engaged.

Mentoring has never been more important, and neither has knowledge sharing. Mentoring occurs when someone agrees to share their accumulated wisdom and knowledge with someone who needs it. It requires an understanding of the learning process, as well as a keen interest in the ongoing growth of an individual. Mentors are not chosen; they choose themselves. Because mentoring and knowledge-sharing are, at their core, voluntary activities, people choose to and want to give of themselves.

Mentees need to understand their subconscious attraction to “the river” – the easiest possible route to the sea. This lowest common denominator (LCD) is the way of nature. It is no coincidence, then, that we spend our days in front of screens that share the abbreviation. This should be a constant reminder that we cannot let the Second Law of Thermodynamics rule our lives. That law (by implication it is a fact) is the law of entropy: matter gets colder over time. Passion is lost, bodies age and market-share collapses. True competitive advantage cannot be duplicated easily, if at all, because it exists in the organisational culture. It is closely linked to spirit of intent. Coca Cola manufactures soft drinks, but they prefer to describe their mission as “refreshing the world,” and thus far they’re succeeding.
Coaching is another form of development that addresses the “how” of day-to-day management. It is not concerned with tasks or envisioning, but rather execution and role effectiveness. Coaching, whether focused on career, life or business (execution, transition, turnaround, sales, presentation etc), must serve a clear purpose and be “tracked”, if it is to be effective.

Coaching has various audiences, or levels of familiarity, from external coaches to the “manager as coach” to peer coaching. Team coaching may also be useful, if combined with an individual approach, helping to focus on a specific personal and collective agenda. Ideally,  team coaching would include Action Learning as problem solving, role mastery coaching and ensure excellent delivery on strategic objectives by including discussions with Exco and HR..

For assistance with finding a world-class mentor or coach, please be in touch.