Earlier this week, I led the final module of a six-week professional certification program for Peernovation. I created the curriculum for an inaugural cohort of nine executive coaches from four countries to help them augment their executive coaching practices and extend their reach to building high-performing teams. These coaches will take what the top CEO peer advisory groups do so brilliantly and help organizational leaders and their team members create greater clarity, unity, and engagement for one another. This article is not about the program; it’s simply a metaphor for what it means to entrust others.
Making it Their Own
One of my core principles for leading this program was to help each executive coach make the material their own. Achieving this goal may be challenging, but it’s essential for the coach, prospective clients, and me as a steward of this work. It must be delivered and facilitated with passion and skill. That said, the participants were skeptical at first.
They would say, “You created this. We won’t be able to deliver it the way you do.”
My response, “Precisely. It would be best if you didn’t deliver it the way I do. I want you to tap into your unique gifts and experiences, so you can present the material and facilitate the sessions in a way I never could.”
Over the next several weeks, they shared their stories, learned from their respective experiences, and began to see even more connections between their lives and Peernovation’s proprietary models. It’s not unlike staring into a Colorado night sky. The longer you look, the more stars that begin to emerge. The group members were on a path to make the material their own and embrace their gifts along the way.
They shared incredible happenings – everything from the teamwork on an aircraft carrier to the challenges of leading teams from multiple countries with very different cultures. They lived things I’ve only read about. Through their stories, I felt the power of Peernovation in new and impactful ways. It was the part of the program where I became a student, and I loved it.
Keeping it Relevant
If the work is not relevant to client needs, it doesn’t matter how good it is or how well you’ve mastered it. If you come across anyone who completed this program, it’s unlikely you’ll receive an elevator pitch on the offering. Instead, they will do what they are hard-wired to do so effectively as executive coaches and leaders. They will ask you questions about your goals, aspirations, and pain points. Then, based on your responses, they will either offer their help or refer you to someone who can better meet your specific needs.
A Story From my Days at Seton Hall
As an adjunct professor for Seton Hall University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership (MASCL) program (2008-2016), I had an experience I remember as if it happened yesterday. At a dinner during graduation weekend, each student was asked to stand up and talk about what the MASCL program meant to them. One of those students was Sister Mary Alice Otoo. In her ever so gentle voice, she said, “When it comes to MASCL, you don’t just go through the program; if you allow it to happen, the program goes through you.” In that single sentence, she captured so beautifully what made MASCL extraordinary. If you trust one another, see people for what makes them special, and believe in the program (or the system, if you will), it will be a truly transformative experience. Sister Mary Alice’s words were not simply a clever turn of phrase; she captured the essence of her experience.
The “graduates” of Peernovation’s inaugural cohort are not just authorized to deliver Peernovation to the world; they are entrusted to do so – the work is in their care now. Not because they have mastered the way I would deliver it, but because they made it their own and will continue to do so. They didn’t go through the program; the program went through them. So during the months and years ahead, I look forward to working with them and bearing witness to the difference they will make in the world.
Take stock of whom you trust, and better yet, whom you can entrust to put your life’s work in their protection and care – a higher bar than garden variety delegation.
Written by Leo Bottary.
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