Learning to walk

20140813-213831-77911436.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of thinking and talking about loads of things recently, leadership (capability), career model(s) and talent (identification and management). I’ve talked with others how these things occur through culture, emotion(s), passion, purpose, sales, semantics all linked to how do we create an organisation that is truly purpose led, caring and commercially successful.

One thing that’s come up, that I want to reflect and explore some more, is the idea that people aren’t capable. That may be described or defined as:

– capability gaps
– the talent isn’t there
– they’re a certain shaped peg in a certain shaped hole
– the calibre isn’t good enough

I then did some thinking and in turn went and did something I’ve not done for a while and watched a load of videos:

I watched this one from a Google Hangout on Collaboration that got me thinking about the importance of a personal connection.
I watched this one from TED with Simon Anholt talking about countries that do ‘good’ using good as the opposite of selfish instead of bad.
I watched another TED talk from Simon Sinek where he talks about leaders making others feel safe and the impact it has on collaboration and morale.

Then I got reflective and decided to write this post *ta da*

In particular I got to think about myself that and to what extent did I openly and in the moment challenge the ethos and the idea that people aren’t capable as it doesn’t fit with my view. If we are willing to say X% of people aren’t going to meet the standard and so we need to get others to replace them, what does that say about us. How safe are we making those in our organisation feel. After all, if I can be party to a conversation about other people, why wouldn’t that apply to me too?

Then I get to thinking about the ‘good’ that is present in that and/or how that builds trust or collaboration, yeah…… don’t feel too comfortable about that either.

Then I wonder about something else Simon Sinek says, he talks about leadership being like a parent and that you want to support, grow, educate others to be more that you could be. This triggered a thought in me about learning to walk. When my three kids learnt to walk, this is the process I saw and/or remember them going through.

1) at least 12 months of watching countless other people walking. Tall, small, young and old, all walking. They got to be in the arms of these people when they walked, maybe even in a sling on their chest or a harness on their back.
2) a period of time when those around them walked would get down on the floor, to their level, right next to them and hold their hand(s). They’d help them balance, move one foot forwards then another, give loads of clapping, whooping and hollering for the smallest or tiniest progress. Look at them with care, pride and love whether they fell or took a step.
3) consistent and persistent encouragement to achieve the goal. Being picked up time after time after time and getting told it was ok and they could do it.
4) once the act of walking had apparently been mastered, even when a fall occurred, it was met with care, support and encouragement. They were told that what matters is getting up and going again.

At no point did my wife or I think, or let alone even say:

– they’ve got some capability gaps
– the talent isn’t there
– they’re a certain shaped peg in a certain shaped hole
– the calibre isn’t good enough

Or…. “let’s not worry about them walking, well cope with them crawling for the rest of their life, another ideas is we can get someone else in to replace them.”

You may think at this point I have stretched the analogy too far. I disagree.

Learning a new skill or changing your behaviour at work is the same process as learning to walk, learning. Why then do we have so little patience or understanding or compassion for those that aren’t working in the way we want them too. If we put the time and effort into; making them feel safe, saying that they can do it, that we believe in them, that we know and trust them, that we will not leave them behind, that we will be right in there with them every step of the way. What will we get in return? Think of the pride that you will feel when that person does achieve that goal or make that change.

Next time I go into that sort of conversation I now feel better prepared to unpick the assumptions and limitations we are placing on people that have learned to do some really complex things in their life.

Let’s marvel at what we can do.

Photo credit; the little man when he was learning to walk :-)))

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4 responses to “Learning to walk

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