When The Student is Ready …

… the teacher will appear. this is a favourite quote of mine although I’ve learned that while it might have been attributed to Buddha, it is more of a fake Buddha thing. I’ve always used it to recognize when people become receptive to a new thought or idea because of a recent experience. Last week I experienced this personally on a much larger scale. A quantum shift in leadership thinking appeared to me.

It is a shift that I would have intellectually understood before, and would have tried to practice. I would have tried diligently, I would have read the material, I would have talked about it with my team, my colleagues and others because I really wanted to embrace it.

But I think I would have failed to achieve the degree of proficiency I desired or perhaps even failed completely because I wasn’t ready. I first had to embark on what I have referred to as my essential journey … My journey to discover my essential self. I had to know that I matter wherever I am. I had to learn that I have no need to prove myself to anyone but me. I had to learn that I have natural gifts and talents that I am responsible for using wisely for the good of my communities. I had to learn that all of these things are also true about everyone else. in short, I had to learn Essential Leadership.

A provocative book on evocative leadership
A provocative book on evocative leadership

I wasn’t ready for Kent Osbourne and his principles of Evocative Leadership until now. I had the pleasure of spending a day with Kent last week and while listening it felt true to me that this student was ready for him.

In his work Kent provides an interesting distinction between provocative and evocative leadership. He characterized the former as the leader thinking about “my ideas, my insights, my solutions” while the evocative leader focuses on “your ideas, your insights, your solutions”. Evocative leadership is about transformation rather than transition.

It is about leading highly competent people. It is about insuring that an organizations best players ARE its best players. It’s about getting the best players to find new personal bests. I identify with this … I think my team at work are amongst the best in the industry. They are great at their jobs, they don’t need me to tell them how to do them.

Interestingly, Kent’s origins are in sports psychology. In sports visualization, successful execution is critical to high performance. Scotty Bowman is likely the greatest hockey coach ever, and at critical points in a game you would see him staring at the rafters of the arena picturing the outcome he needed. He would then, in his mind, watch the play unfold that led to that result, and when the image was solid in his mind, he would walk over to the players who he envisioned and send them on to the ice.

Scotty Bowman - master of visualization
Scotty Bowman – master of visualization

Why wouldn’t that principle be true elsewhere? So the things we visualize about people we lead tend to become reality. When we imagine that someone reporting to us has limitations, it is likely that they know we believe that. We don’t say it, but subtleties in our words and body language make it clear to them.

It is about us having clear and positive visions of people performing at their absolute best. And it is also about us helping them form strong images of their own best performance to guide them. It is about adding our imagination to our already present analytical capabilities to allow us to hear and see more.

I’m hooked. I’m now a student of Kent Osbourne. And I suspect you will be hearing more from me as I explore his teachings and put them into practice! I feel like a kid again with the joy of discovery and building new approaches beckoning!

Published by

Ian Munro @ leadingessentially.com

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

6 thoughts on “When The Student is Ready …

  1. I have always believed that leaders should believe that their team is wanting to do their best 99% of the time. If you don’t believe in them, as you say, they will know and perhaps lose heart. Love this post Ian and I look forward to hearing more on this.

  2. For several years, Bowman’s job was to decide between Flower, Gainey or Tremblay. He would send. The point was to tire the other team then lengthen Lafleur’s shift in the third. Two quick goals then back to Gainey to close the game.

  3. Solid article, Ian. I’m happy to hear more on Kent’s philosophies.

    I’m am intrigued by that Buddha quote, as I wonder why I languished so long, self destructively (alcohol) and have now been so fine sober. Why was it such a difficulty, then how did I see above and beyond it?

    Interested in sports psychology VERY much. For a period (after my attempted suicide, which Daniel saved my life from – I was actually near death, when he was 15), he experienced things personal which affected his sports performance. I took him to such a person and his change was amazing. I am DEEPLY interested in psychology, indeed.

    Yes, do welcome more on Kent.

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