You know, someone who withholds recognition of your contribution to the team or organization’s success? Even worse do you work with or for someone who steals your ideas or takes credit for the performance of your products/projects? If you do, you probably feel unjustly treated and deprived, as this person claims credit they do not deserve. It’s theft!
When someone you work with steals the credit for a success that you created, they’re committing the most rage-inducing interpersonal “crime” in the workplace. (This is the interpersonal flaw that produces more negative emotion than any other in my feedback interviews with the stakeholders of my coaching clients.) And, it creates a bitterness that’s hard to forget. You might be able to forgive someone for not recognizing your stellar performance. But it’s really hard to forgive someone for recognizing it and brazenly claiming it as his or her own!
Let’s turn the tables. Imagine you’re the perpetrator rather than the victim. Have you ever claimed credit that you didn’t deserve? Most of us have to at least a slight degree. When it comes to determining exactly who came up with a winning phrase in a meeting or exactly who on the team was responsible for holding an important client relationship together during a rocky phase, the evidence gets fuzzy. It’s hard to say exactly who deserves the credit.
Given the choice between grasping the credit for ourselves or leaving it for someone else to claim, many of us will claim more credit than we have earned, and slowly begin to believe it! All the while, the victims of our injustice are seething. You know how you feel as a victim, and you should know how people feel about you for doing the same.
There’s no telling what a group can achieve when no one cares who gets the credit. We know this in our bones. We know it because we remember how good we felt about our colleagues when they accorded us the credit we deserved.
So, why don’t some people reciprocate when someone else deserves the credit? I’m not sure. It could be their upbringing, their need to win, their need to be right. It doesn’t really matter. In life, the best thing to do is be the person that you want to be in the world. If you feel the urge to retaliate with hogging the credit, do the opposite. Share the wealth.
Not sure if you have the credit hogging bug? Start with this simple drill. For one day, make a mental note of every time you privately congratulate yourself on an achievement, large or small. Then write it down. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you pat yourself on the back quite a lot! For me, I celebrate for everything from coming up with a big idea for a client to showing up on time for a meeting to dashing off a clever note to a colleague. There’s nothing wrong with these private thoughts. This pleasure in our own performance is what keeps us motivated, especially on long, arduous days.
You’ve made your list. Now, take apart each episode and ask yourself if it’s in any way possible that someone else might deserve the credit for “your” achievement. If you showed up on time for a meeting across town, is it because you are heroically punctual and thoughtful? Or is it because someone or something reminded you about the meeting? If you came up with a good idea in a meeting, did it spring unbidden from your imagination? Or was it inspired by an insightful comment from someone else in the room. And so on…
As you go through your list, consider this make-or-break question: If any of the other people involved in your episodes were looking at the situation, would they accord you as much credit as you are claiming for yourself? Or would they hand it out to someone else, perhaps even themselves?
Every one of us has a strong bias to remember events in a light that is most favorable to us. This drill exposes that bias and makes us consider the possibility that someone else’s perspective is closer to the truth.
Written by Coach Marilyn
In the world, well-known Czech and Slovak products and business successes do not only include hand-made crystal glass and design art pieces such as those from the La Svit company, or the application of biological and technological research into healthcare fields such as nanotechnology, Dr. Holy’s HIV research or Dr. Pomahac’s plastic surgery development.
Czech and Slovak products and their business successes have something in common in the coaching sense. All business successes of Eset, Avast, Elmarco, Petrof, Walmark or Skoda emerged from a decision to commit. To commit to an idea of business growth and therefore to build economic welfare.
Despite the fact that what make us suffer the most is hope, in business, only to hope is not the best business strategy.
To commit requires not only to hope, but also to have courage and strong belief that I am able to reach my goals and make a product I believe in because of its character, contribution and benefit for society.
And as the research findings of the Made in Czechoslovakia company and other respected scientists show, there are variables that are linked to performance and therefore, logically, to business growth. They are, for instance, work satisfaction, organizational identification,
generalized self-efficacy or locus of control, to name a few. Based on previously mentioned assumptions and scientific research, at Made in Czechoslovakia we believe that business coaching should work with, develop and cover the so-called “Magic 7” areas.
The Magic 7 may be determined as follows for Business:
1) Organizational identification and commitment
2) Work satisfaction
3) Leadership and authority
4) Quality of relationships in the workplace
5) Cooperation and competition
6) Business and personal self-confidence and self-esteem
7) Critical thinking
Business coaching should not only facilitate the process of organizational identification in general, but also in the individual meaning. Employees should be identified with the task value and the product itself. They should feel commitment and personal interest in fulfilling their working tasks. Also, the quality of relationships in the workplace means that an emotionally safe environment without gossiping, bossing around, stalking or any other unwanted socio-pathological problems helps workers to fully focus and contribute to cooperation and group cohesion. By facilitating the process of self-management, business coaches co-create inspirational environment in which a business person finds inner sources to increase his or her self-esteem and self-confidence. By questioning, business coaches stimulate critical thinking that helps facilitate a creative process. And because happiness is a question of one’s creativity, we, business coaches, may unintentionally influence very individual and fragile horizons. That is why our profession belongs to one of the most influential, powerful but also responsible arts.
The name “Magic 7” was influenced by the so-called Laterna Magica. Laterna Magica is not only known as the world’s very first multimedia theatre which won the first prize at the Expo 1958 in Brussels and which has attracted thousands of tourists to Prague ever since. It is also an old name for a wooden box with a candle inside, which lit a lens and projected small pictures behind it onto the wall in front of spectators in a magnified scale. It is not like in the allegory of the Plato’s Cave, which corresponds to the constructivist concept of the world. Laterna Magica is more like a method of coaching. In other words, in business caching we do the same. We work with one’s personality that may be considered as a psycho-plastic space which needs to have some of its areas lit and magnified to provide the observer/client with the wider picture and to be more aware of his or her inner sources, unanswered questions, or strengths.
The economic welfare of society mainly depends on a strong economy, the quality of products, working commitment, democratic thinking and moral maturity.
Economic welfare can be influenced by our profession very much. We are the ones who work with people in business. We are the ones who provide them with comfort and safety to express their thoughts and values related to their work. We are the ones who can establish and manage developmental context. Therefore, we can influence the business a lot. And that goes hand in hand with the economic welfare of each society.
Daniel Tuma, CBC
Business coach, psychologist and organizational counselor managing the Made in Czechoslovakia company, the first company in Central Europe with WABC accreditation for training program in business coaching.
Academic guarantor and author of many workshops, trainings and coaching programs regarding business psychology, organizational psychology, emotional intelligence, socio-psycho pathology in the workplace and leading positions.
He is specialized in highly influential top-management assessment and in mediating conflicts on the highest business level.
“The term complexity captures the greater levels of uncertainty, ambiguity, interdependences and interrelatedness that now characterize the environments in which organizations operate”
Business coaches need to think systemically, and this article briefly looks at the importance of leaders taking decisions in alignment with the context of their organizational environment. At an individual level, leadership development in complex environments involves moving away from focusing on the structures and processes within the organization, to the behaviors required of leaders individually within the organization’s social system (Clarke, 2013:141).
Cynefin: the decision-making framework
Snowden and Boone (2007) outline four different contexts in which managers operate as simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic. The Cynefin decision-making framework helps leaders determine the prevailing context within which they are operating, and explores how they can make appropriate choices and decisions to intervene (Figure 1). “Cynefin, pronounced ‘ku-nev-in’, is a Welsh word that signifies the multiple factors in our environment and our experience that influence us in ways we can never understand” (Snowden and Boone, 2007:70).
As coaches we need to help leaders learn to shift their decision-making styles according to the type of environment or context in which they are operating. The Cynefin framework can help to correctly identify the governing context, stay aware of danger signals, and avoid inappropriate actions, thereby helping managers to lead effectively in a variety of situations (Snowden and Boone, 2007:75).
Figure 1 The Cynefin decision-making framework
Source: Snowden and Boone (2007:72)
The Cynefin framework has five domains: simple, complicated, complex, chaotic and disordered. Disorder is the state of not knowing what type of causality exists, and people will revert to their own comfort zone when making a decision (Stout-Rostron, 2014:105). The following four practices are useful for the business coach to help the leader make appropriate choices and decisions within their prevailing context.
Four practices: best, good, emergent and novel
Best practice (simple environment)
When working with a client in a simple environment where patterns are repeated and events are consistent, and we are dealing with fact-based management, the leader’s job would be to use best practice, communicating clearly and delegating – but with an understanding of the need for extensive, interactive communication.
Good practice (complicated environment)
In a more complicated environment which is the domain of experts, the leader would need to diagnose the problems in consultation with a series of experts, trying to discover the cause-and-effect of the problem, identifying one or more answers that might resolve the issue. In this instance it is important for the leader to create panels of experts and listen to conflicting advice.
Working with one client in a more complicated scenario means that there are a possible range of right answers. Snowden and Boone call this the realm of “known unknowns”. Whereas leaders in a simple environment must sense, categorize and respond, leaders in a complicated environment must sense, analyze and respond. Here good practice is needed.
Emergent practice (complex environment)
In a complex environment, there would be a great deal of flux and unpredictability with no right answers. There would be competing ideas, emergent rather than predictable patterns, and a need for creative and innovative problem-solving approaches. The leader would need to create an environment that would allow patterns to emerge, and to increase levels of interaction and communication. More important would be the need to open up discussion, allowing large group methods and encouraging dissent and diversity.
Novel practice (chaotic environment)
In a chaotic environment, there will be high turbulence with no clear-cut cause-and-effect, many unknowable’s, and many decisions to make with possibly no time to think. Tension will be high. The leaders’ job will be to look for what works instead of seeking the “right” answer, and to take immediate action to re-establish order. This may require a “command and control” type of leadership to begin with, moving into another style of leadership as the context changes. Clear and direct communication will be essential.
The Cynefin model explores working in differing environments where adaptability and systemic thinking are needed to help leaders make decisions within contexts and systems which are continually changing.
Clarke, N. (2013). Model of complexity leadership development. Human Resource Development International, 16(2):135–150.
Snowden, D.J., and Boone, M.E. (2007). A leader’s framework for decision making. Harvard Business Review, 85(11):69–76.
Stout-Rostron, S. (2014). Leadership Coaching for Results: Cutting-edge practices for coach and client, Randburg, South Africa: Knowres.
Sunny Stout-Rostron, DProf, MA
Sunny’s interest in the WABC is based on its dedication to the development of business coaches. Like the WABC, she believes business coaching to be a developing profession in its own right. Business coaches can feel isolated, and the WABC enables them to connect in terms of practice, standards and ethics. Sunny has been coaching internationally for over 25 years, working with executive leaders and their teams. As a qualified Coach Supervisor, and Founding President of Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA), she is passionate about developing the knowledge base for coaching through teaching, research and practice. This has meant helping to create several Masters programs for business coaching in South Africa. Sunny regularly works with coaches and clients in the UK, Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia. She is the author of six books, including the recently published Leadership Coaching for Results: Cutting-edge practices for coach and client (Knowres, 2014).
Hurtling or dancing?
Hurtling towards a scary future. Or learning to dance on the edge with new possibilities. What comes to mind for you when you think about the future? Which of these two images best captures it for you?
These two images tell very different stories about our experience of moving to the future. They both capture something real and true. And yet, which one we choose as the dominant story to live into can have a profound impact on our lives. To be intentional about the future we are shaping day by day, choice by choice and action by action, it is important that we reflect on our stories about the future and that we choose the story that we want to guide us carefully.
Hurtling towards a scary future
There is little doubt that our world is changing faster and in more profound ways than any one of us can quite fathom. And this change is often experienced as moving us towards more complexity, confusion ambiguity, uncertainty, even chaos. The image of hurtling towards a scary future (from a Sunday times headline of a few years ago) captures something of the sense of being “out of control” we experience at times as we deal with our world.
No matter what our role or place in life, we cannot escape the disconcerting impacts of change. As a leader in an organisation, as a parent supporting children to find their way in the world, as a professional trying to map out a career, or simply a human being trying to live a good live - we all feel the turbulence. Sometimes we truly despair and fear the worst. Indeed, it often feels as if the best we can do is to brace ourselves as we’re hurtling out of control towards the cliff of a scary future.
Giving in to a sense of despair is the big danger inherent in this story about the future. It is a story of hopelessness and lack of control. When we succumb to the doom and gloom view inherent in this story, we essentially give up – or we implode. At best, we make our lives smaller and smaller. We hunker down to survive without even asking ourselves honestly “to what end”.
Dancing on the edge with new possibilities
The other image tells a much more positive and hopeful story. It evokes a sense of play and adventure, a sense of openness to what might come. Inserting the word “learning” into the story makes it not a passive process, but an intentional process we can actively participate in.
This second image is a play on a book title Dancing at the Edge. Competence, Culture and Organization in the 21st Century (by Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester, published in 2012 by the International Futures Forum.) Here’s short quote from the back cover of the book that speaks to the “subtle discipline required of ‘persons of tomorrow’:
“They are the people among us who inhabit the complex and messy problems of the 21st century in a more expansive way than their colleagues… They dance at the edge.”
The image of learning to dance at the edge contains no more certainty than the other image of hurtling towards the future.
The story does not dispute or deny that change is happening at an ever faster rate, or that some of what is happening is truly scary. We’re still on that edge, and dancing there is risky.
The story inherent in our second image differs in at least two crucial ways, however, from the story in the first image. First, it holds open the frame that the future holds many possibilities that we could engage with, not just disaster. Second, it shifts us away from the sense of hopelessness and complete lack of control implicit in the first image towards a more intentional and active engagement. We are not just helpless passengers hurtling our way to a scary future; we can choose to learn how to be active players and dancers that engage with the many possibilities of the future.
Choosing our story
Our story about the future we live into is not neutral. It shapes our feelings about the future. It helps shape our choices and our actions – and in so doing, it helps shape the very future that’s coming into being around us.
So what is the future story you are living? How well does that story serve you? What is the future story you would like to live into? And what will it take for you to step into that story?
If we want to be future smart, it is vital that we carefully consider the future story we’re living into and choose one that holds the greatest potential for good outcomes. This holds true in all contexts personally, professionally, organizationally and in all our broader communities.
The vital element is a willingness to learn, to cultivate in ourselves the mental frames and capacities that will give us the best chance to thrive tomorrow. And for us to encourage and support others – those we lead, parent, teach, coach – to cultivate these qualities in themselves.
The good news is that there is a rich conversation about this very issue, with lots of thoughtful wisdom about what we need to cultivate in ourselves to become more future smart. While there is no way to know what the future will bring, we can have a fair degree of confidence in at least some of the internal capacities we need to grow to be active dancers on the edge of possibilities. All it will take - and I know that this is no small thing – is to be willing to be a learner in a whole new way.
We ARE shaping the future, whether we are aware of it or not. It is vital that we develop the skills and capabilities that will allow us to be shapers of a positive future, in the face of the tremendous change and challenge that the future presents us with.