With Leadership Development: Are We Smarter that Fifth-Graders?
We have a Bovo-Tighe consultant with elementary grade children who is intrigued by the underlying principals of a school program called “PEP,” a Parent Education Program that teaches social competence and decision-making skills. Its themes strongly echoed the themes of our own coaching work with corporate leaders.
This has always challenged me, too: Why do we struggle as adults to adopt the very behaviors we try to teach our children? We strive to imbue our children with such values as:
- Fair play
- Don’t brag!
- Learn to share
- Respect others
Yet we seem not to be practicing what we preach. Corporate leaders come right back around and find themselves contracting with people like me to relearn this positive behavioral mindset through coaching.
What really brought this home to me was the mnemonics that the PEP program used to cement respectful, productive mindsets in children. These really made the comparison to aspects of my own coaching work stand out:
First, the FRIENDS mnemonic, which echoes my work in making clients better communicators:
Feelings are important
Reach out to others who may be different
Eye contact (make it!)
Names (remember them!)
Don’t always focus on yourself
For those of you who think this is too simplistic, I say the language is but the concepts still need to be (re)learned by most of us.
Second, the STAR mnemonic, which very closely reflects the “Stop/Start” process I use with clients:
State your choices
Think each through
This is what our children are being taught, and we as parents generally agree that this is worth teaching. Why, then, do we not retain this mindset and use it adults in our professional lives? Why do corporate leaders need a refresher on how to treat others respectfully and appreciate diversity of thought and action?
Human nature may play a role, of course. Sharing-focused and “respectful” mindsets competes with acquisitive and “zero-sum game” mindsets that we also learn as children and seem to hold onto more easily than the good stuff outlined above. Those negative mindsets lead people to wall off others and protect what they own against perceived attempts to pilfer it. Or, they want what others have and don’t realize that the pie can be grown to accommodate everyone’s goals through collaboration.
This is a great wake-up call for me in understanding the ongoing need for coaching, and its roots in the basic commonsense behaviors we were supposed to learn as kids!