A coach and a leader have in common what is perhaps their main asset: the ability to ‘see what no other has seen before’, a future that is at the same time personal and universal.
[Note: this is not an easy text.]
This is not about eye-vision of course.
In the coach’s case
it may concern a pattern of thought or action that the coachee enacts time and again because it is somehow deeply meaningful to that person. Being better able – through the coaching – to recognize and ‘digest’ that meaning may enable him to proceed in more enjoyable, efficient, energetic, yes: meaningful ways. Almost as a side effect, something that has been encrusted into for instance a chronic pain, may gradually get softer or even dissolve. In comparison to a ‘symptom-aggressive cure’, this is much more worthwhile.
In the leader’s case
it may be about a ‘grand vision’ of the future of a whole organization, like a ‘view into the future’ where he can see what to expect and from where he can more optimally orient the company’s strategy, ‘back into the present’.
Using a metaphor: the act of ‘vision’ is like that of a perfect mirror. Such a mirror is completely present (personal – as a ‘total person’) and at the same time completely not-present (universal – mirroring reality as it is). Flaws in the mirror are bits and pieces of ego throwing itself to the fore. With lots of bits and pieces, the mirror image gets more and more obscured.
A perfect mirror reflects an inner world which is ‘formless’ (not easy to grasp!) but meaningful. It reflects this into the outer world which is full of form but meaningless on its own. That’s when things start getting alive.
This is the case between coach and coachee, as it is between leader and organization.
It doesn’t mean – at all – that coach or leader reflect their own ego-personal content. These are the flaws in the mirror! Characteristic to a great coach / leader is precisely his ability to transcend this, to ‘polish the mirror’… until the mirror itself is no longer visible.
Doing from being
Doing this is a natural, spontaneous flow that comes from being this. The latter is – make no mistake – very difficult to achieve. It takes a ‘lifetime’ in the sense of: a time to be truly alive, deeply present, experiencing things, getting to know oneself and others as they are.
Reading/studying are helpful but only if done as an experiencing – deeply – of what is being read. This is quite special.
The ‘becoming’ into ‘being’ is the polishing of the mirror. It takes patience. Digesting this text may be one polishing stroke, albeit – hopefully – a meaningful one to you, dear reader.
The realization of the vision
This comes mainly by being keenly aware of the vision within fitting circumstances. Take care: you cannot force these circumstances but you can invite them to come your way when you think you are ready for them. Very important: this may take seconds, months… or decades.
In order to bring vision to an organization, it’s not enough to place a banner or to write the ‘company vision’ all over the place. In order to become alive within a company, the vision needs to enter people – which actually is impossible if ‘you’ want to be the actor of this action, maybe as the ‘boss’. No go.
Here also, you can only invite. What is already there, inside a person, may become alive. The person may recognize himself in the company vision. Only then, with a well-enough recognition, may the vision start growing inside.
Thus, bringing the company vision to employees is like searching for the already present seeds. Then: nurturing these seeds, letting them grow. The seeds are personal; the growing: universal. What the seeds are growing into, is a better world, a better future.
This is the core business of every open leader and every great coach.