October 25th 2012

Coaching the Manager of Tomorrow

Coaching the Manager of Tomorrow: Outlook for the Future According to Jean Raymond Bonin, a Professional Coach with Coaching Outaouais
Mr. Jean Raymond Bonin has gained extensive experience working with management teams on topics related to business management, change management as well as leadership development through coaching and facilitation; thus, he understands the dynamics of management teams very well. Additionally, Mr. Bonin is a member and mentor for the professional training program in coaching at the New Ventures West/Convivium School and holds a Masters in Education as well as another in Public Administration. He is also a member of the Fédération internationale des coachs du Québec and l’Ordre des CRHA.
What sets the leaders of today apart from past generations? Will new challenges arise as a result of our increasingly changing work environment, the globalization of growing markets and a more skilled labour force? To answer these questions and more, professional coach Jean Raymond Bonin, from Coaching Outaouais, has agreed to share with us his point of view. With his vast coaching and facilitation experience with senior management teams in fields such as corporate management, change management and leadership development, he will outline the role of coaches and the contributions that they can make to the society of tomorrow. We will take a fresh look at the effect of these factors in the day-to-day management of organizations and how companies can use them to achieve their full potential while maximizing the professional development of their human resources.

What are the main characteristics of the leaders of today and tomorrow?

First, I would like to point out that the term “leader” has been used quite freely in recent times. In particular, we tend to confuse the concepts of leadership and authority, as well as the roles of management and leadership. The following four key qualities are the main hallmarks of the leaders of tomorrow.

  • Self-awareness
    Beyond mastering the basic abilities and knowledge required with respect to management, an individual must be able to act and “see himself/herself act” simultaneously. In the future, the main role of a leader will involve a focus on self-awareness; they will need to boast a strong capacity for introspection and be constantly capable of questioning himself/herself. He/She will also be someone who is ready and able to redirect his/her attention and perspective. Naturally, these individuals will need to be very open to change and fully aware of their self and environment.
  • Resilience
    The capacity to weather adverse conditions and regain the upper hand after experiencing difficulties remains an undeniable asset in any leader. In fact, labour market conditions are changing more and more rapidly today, with the advent of market globalization and increasing upheavals within certain economies. Here again, an aptitude for introspection and continuous self-questioning will allow these leaders to keep their heads above water and withstand the storm. With their ability to take a step back to assess their successes and problems, they are better able to adapt to the changing conditions within their environment. The term itself implies that the next generation of leaders will be in a state of “continuous learning”.
  • Critical thinking
    The days when managers would bow to the slightest nod (or whim) from their executives are left behind for new leaders of today. Independent critical thinking will lead them to view problems from multiple angles and enable them to disagree with decisions endorsed by the upper management. This does not mean they should adopt a rebellious attitude; but rather that they should begin to seek out new avenues for innovative solutions and venture into different ways of doing things. To achieve this, leaders must master the qualities of self-awareness and resilience mentioned above. It’s up to them to think for themselves, without being overly influenced by their environment. They must display active listening skills and be open to different opinions.
  • Valuing the common good
    Recent decades have been characterized by increased individualism; this is true within society as a whole as well as within organizations. People have been more focused on themselves; our culture is geared toward individual success at any cost. These successes would then dictate the organization’s prosperity. Mr. Bonin believes we now need to return to a more collegial attitude that aims to benefit everyone. For organizations, this will entail a radical change, because it means putting aside the notion of profit in the short term. A leader who wants to be successful will need to think more about others and be prepared to play more of a backseat role, i.e. spending less time in centre stage. Such a leader will need to put himself/herself at the service of others and align with the mission of the organization. This can be seen in a number of ways: Does the leader talk about “us” or about “me”? Is the leader more likely to ask questions or give answers? A leader with the common good in mind will be able to give meaning to the company’s direction and set it in motion. And, naturally, such a leader will create excitement in the other members of the organization whose common goal will be to ensure that the company prospers.

What role will coaches play with these future leaders?

Some forms of coaching are more results-oriented or plan-oriented and directed at specific scenarios. These approaches can work, but are not always effective in the long term. Personally, I prefer to coach each person from a standpoint of self-awareness. What is his/her perception of his/herself? How will he/she analyze different situations? How will he/she react to different constraints imposed by the environment? We cannot change our patterns without first understanding them. In other words, the role of the coach will be to lead individuals to become aware of their personality traits and patterns and to encourage them to try engaging in and mastering other way of doing things which will, in turn, allow them to respond more accurately given environmental constraints. A coach’s job will also involve encouraging clients to explore themselves honestly, without judgement. A coach can use different exercises to open clients up and invite them to freely ask for help from those around them without worrying about being seen as incompetent because they are asking for help. A coach will help the individual develop a new way
of seeing things and of approaching situations and will support the latter in developing cross-training competencies, without necessarily weighing in on the development of their knowledge itself, which is more specific to the path each individual chooses to follow. A coach’s intervention should focus specifically on the person, and not on the various situations he/she might be living. Naturally, this voyage of self-discovery will initially be somewhat uncomfortable, but this feeling will diminish over time, giving way to a great sense of ease in the face of change.