Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Growing Agile Leaders: A Tool for Engagement

If you follow this blog, you know that I am high on Bob Dale’s book, Growing Agile Leaders:  Coaching Leaders to Move with Sure-Footedness in a Seismic World, available in both hard copy and Kindle formats.  This is a book about coaching.  Dale looks to Co-Active Coaching for this definition:  “Coaching is a growth-oriented, strategic relationship.  Coaching links two peers, equals who are in distinct roles, to collaborate as thought partners and to find the way forward for the person being coached.”  This book is written for the two participants in a coaching conversation—leaders who are ready to address their situation in order to move ahead and coaches who work with them.

The underlying theme of the book is that we live in an increasingly unstable world.  In order to find our way in such a world, we must develop new skills and ways of thinking.  Dale has a high regard and respect for leaders, but he also realizes that a leader needs a companion for the journey,   “thought partner” who will both challenge and support the leader.

For leaders, the book helps to clarify the situations they find themselves in and to examine some tools that will move them beyond those situations.  Even the best of leaders, those who have survived and prospered in the past, often find themselves in rapidly changing situations that demand a new way of thinking.  I recently facilitated an online coaching group of pastors, each facing challenging situations.  One pastor was moving his congregation out of a facility they had sold to an adjoining business and were moving into a temporary location in a school.  Another was considering what his impending retirement would mean both to him and his church.  The third was in the middle of a capital campaign and working with his staff to establish a third worship service.  Although each person’s challenge was different, they were all dealing with significant change with many components that they did not create and that they could not control!  These leaders are dealing with seismic changes.

For coaches, the book takes the coaching relationship to another level.  I have described this book to some friends as a “second level” coaching book.  There is some attention to the fundamentals of the coaching conversation, but Dale provides questions, concepts and resources that move coaching to another level.  Each discipline Dale introduces provides a new lens to examine the client’s abilities, situation, and response. He drops in some family systems theory, “whole brain thinking,” creativity concepts, and insights from a number of other disciplines to provide new perspectives to the coach.  As the coach embraces these perspectives, he or she can help the client to think about their situation in new ways that can be tremendously productive. 

Whether you are a leader or a coach, Growing Agile Leaders will be a good resource for you as you face a rapidly changing world.

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