A Change in the Weather

Almost overnight, everyone else has turned brown.  Suddenly there are shorts and tee-shirts, sunglasses.  Everyone moves more slowly.  It feels like a holiday.  Outside my window in the centre of Bristol, you can hear desultory chat, the chink of glasses, music turned up, the slap of sandals walking by.

A change in the system (in this case, the weather system) produces a change in behavior, a change in priorities, a change in feelings.

I know there are some hardy souls who just start wearing shorts at the beginning of April even if it’s still snowing (no, there ARE – I saw one guy earlier in the year), but they are the exception.  It is hard to do one thing when the system is telling you to do something else.

I’m coming to realize that as a coach, I’m never coaching an individual – I’m always coaching the system.  It’s extremely hard for a naturally receptive person to become assertive at the best of times.  But when his boss is aggressive and full of initiatives of his own, it’s almost impossible.  Somehow the boss has to change to make the space for the other guy to assert himself.  It’s all very well for a CEO to have a compelling  vision and pull together a team to implement it – but if the Board gets too anxious too quickly about the bottom line, she may not be given the chance to get there.

You have to change the system.  And if you want one of your direct reports to develop, you have to get out of the way.  And to do that you may have to change even more than the person who’d being coached.  Or you may have to see how the system can be changed at an even more fundamental level.

Sometimes we need to change the weather.