Passion for people pays off

David Brumpton makes the case for coaches to do it again, but this time with more feeling

To paraphrase the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot, "Only passion, great passion, can elevate coaching to achieve great things". That is my daily reality – for coaching without passion is the Olympics without athletes.

Forgive me for making a sporting analogy, but in September we witnessed what has been described as the best Olympics of all time. They certainly evoked passion. Passion that energised the participants, the crowd, the officials and – behind the scenes – the coaches.

But, you might say, sports coaching is not the same as coaching in business and commerce. Well take away the passion and it certainly isn’t!

Yet isn’t it about time that we took the sports analogy seriously? We know and appreciate the value of coaching in sport, both with individuals and teams. We know that coaches value those they are coaching and seek to optimise their performance and ultimate achievement. Why should it be any different in business and commerce?

Would it not be healthy for all CEOs to look at their respective organisations as through the eyes of a team coach? To have a passion for the development of their people, and what’s more to enjoy being part of it.

Would it not be healthy for all managers, team leaders and all those who have a responsibility for others to look as through the eyes of a team coach? Just think of what might be seen and understood with much more clarity – maybe for the first time appreciating both the emotional and physical wellbeing of the team, seeing the true potential in others and then assisting the process by which they achieve it.

Imagine giving hope, purpose and direction to others, not through telling, but by asking timely questions and guiding their journey of self-discovery – by focusing on positive outcomes rather than problems, by asking the refreshing question of "How?", rather than the punitive "Why?", by recognising that there is no such thing as failure, only results and subsequent learning through feedback. By encouraging possibility thinking rather than necessity thinking.

And here’s the pay-back. To know that you have been part of someone else’s journey of self-discovery will give the greatest fulfilment anyone can experience.

This story illustrates the value of coaching: A farmer in South Africa became thoroughly despondent after several years of very poor returns. Eventually he moved on, dispirited and broke.

His farm was subsequently sold. The new owner, keen to understand the potential of his newly-acquired property, carried out a thorough investigation by walking across his territory.

As he walked across a dry riverbed, he kicked a rock of an unusual shape. The rock was subsequently sent for analysis, honed and polished and the results showed that he was the owner of a diamond. Not only one diamond, but acres of diamonds.

The analogy is simple. How many acres of diamonds are there in organisations across this land, and who will discover them?

The obvious starting point is to begin looking. Not as a manager, but as a coach. Then we will see the hidden diamonds and be able to initiate many more journeys of self-discovery.

But it will be passion more than anything else that will bring the results. A passion for people, a passion for potential and a passion for achievement.

So who will re-kindle the last flickerings of self-esteem in others? Who will discover the diamonds and drive the process which refines, hones and polishes? Who will it be that experiences the delight of seeing others achieve their full potential? Who will it be? Will it be you? Will it be me? Passionate stuff? You bet!

David Brumpton is a personal and team development coach and a director of Keyturn Training

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