The movie, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” starring Johnnie Depp as Gilbert and Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie, is an excellent analogy to executive coaching. As executive coaches, it is vital to understand that to help or coach someone, one must have the precise ability to be helpful for the leader to be coached. In this movie, the oldest sibling, Gilbert, struggles to help his bedridden mother and mentally challenged younger brother, Arnie. After the father, Mr. Grape, commits suicide, Gilbert becomes the patriarch, surrounded by family members with situations beyond his control. What’s eating Gilbert mostly relates to Gilbert’s growing frustration caused by his inability to help his mother overcome her morbidly obese condition.
As the holiday season approaches, managers begin thinking about gifts they can give to the people on their team. Here’s an idea for a gift that will literally and meaningfully change people’s lives. And it won’t cost a dime.
Help people self-actualize.
You won’t spend any money for this gift. But it will likely require a very different kind of investment. You will need to invest time, energy and positive regard in each person on your team with the goal of helping each of them become more of who they really are. That’s what self-actualization is – self-fulfillment. It looks different for everyone because everyone has a different set of talents, a different configuration of potential and a different definition of success.
Getting promoted is reason to celebrate so hopefully, that’s what you do first! Then what? Let’s say this promotion involves managing people – maybe even people who used to be your peers. What can you do – starting right away – to succeed in this new role?
Act with Confidence. When in charge, take charge. Don’t act like you have something to prove. You’ve already proven it. Give direction in a matter-of-fact way. Make it clear through your conversational tone and relaxed demeanor that you expect people to follow your direction. Don’t give direction apologetically, and don’t be afraid to rock the boat by making positive changes. Good managers and leaders improve things, and improvement requires change.
This piece of advice is offered by mothers everywhere: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
How well do we take that advice – especially at work?
In this last podcast on Shaping Your Culture, we explore what managers can do to discourage hearsay, gossip, rumors and speaking negatively about people in their absence.
Politics are inevitable in any organization. Ignore them at your own peril. You don’t have to play politics, but as a manager or leader, be intentional about how you respond to organizational politics because your responses shape your organization’s culture – and your character as a leader.