I had the pleasure to have Erik van de Loo and Michael Shiel as teachers (INSEAD). In terms of my approach to both coaching and leadership consulting, I strongly believe that my role is to help leaders learn. In fact, leaderhip could be defined as being an expert learner. Let us illuminate this point, by investigating (and dissecting) Shiel's luminous writing on the topic:
In the Hegelian tradition, learning is not a form of knowledge transmission but a social activity” (Shiel, 2005, p. 184). Knowing and knowledge arise through interaction with others, and this interaction inevitably involves aspects of power and conflict. Thus “leadership itself is concerned with knowledge creation” (Shiel, 2005, p. 184), and the role of a teacher is similar to that for a leader. “They are engaged in a similar task: participating in and contributing to conversation in skilled ways. The teacher, as part of the process, is also learning while helping others to learn” (Shiel, 2005, p. 183). This learning (e.g., “change in the characteristic patterning of an individual’s silent conversation”) “is achieved through the experience of conversation in a group with skilled participants” (Shiel, 2005, p. 183). Consequently, leadership is concerned with participating with others in a group or organization to assist them in knowledge creation. “This requires the continuous emergence of meaning. New meaning cannot be commanded to appear; rather, it emerges as thematic patterning from the communicative interactions of persons, principally in conversation” (Shiel, 2005, p. 182). Hence, both the leader, and the “coach absolutely needs to be sensitive to the coach—coachee interaction during the session, in the here and now” (Baron et al., 2011, p. 857), because “no one, including leaders or teachers, can take up a position outside this interaction and attempt to influence it from there. The only way to influence the emergent thematic patterning is to participate in that interaction; that is, by being there and by the particular gestures-responses one makes” (Shiel, 2005, p. 182). The task of a leader is to participate in particularly prominent ways in the interactions (principally conversations) that constitute the tasks of a team, “paying attention to the interactions, in particular to surprises, irregularities and misunderstandings which give rise to potential changes in the patterns of conversation” (Shiel, 2005, p. 183). Hence, the art of leadership seems to involve the improvement of an individual’s ability to pay attention to—and influence—communicative discourses, to be aware of to the changing patterning of interactions as they arise, as well as being fully present to changes in the silent conversation with oneself. In effect, as “leadership concerns continuous learning, becoming a leader involves learning to learn in a new way” (Shiel, 2005, p. 183). Consequently, “leadership is concerned with the emergence of new patterns of thinking and knowing, that is, with joint exploratory learning” (Shiel, 2005, p. 183).
According to such a framework, I am a lifelong learner (e.g. ,the current courses I take at Udemy, can be found here). And when possible, I tend to follow the White Rabbit, as long as it also makes sense from a larger perspective.
Stefan Verweij, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Espen Folmo, at PwC in 2019:
Here at MIT in 2020 to learn about AI and blockchain.
At Berkeley in 2005:
A few years later, at Oxford:
Together with Gunnar Gjermundsen in Belgium (Orsmolen, 2012) to learn Mahumudra meditation from Daniel Brown, PhD.
In september 2001, I went to NYC, but for whatever reason—despite being curious—I dared not enter WTC.
Baron, L., Morin, L., & Morin, D. (2011). Executive coaching: The effect of working alliance discrepancy on the development of coachees' self‐efficacy. Journal of Management Development.
Shiel, M. (2005). Leadership, learning and skill development. In D. Griffin & R. Stacey (Eds.), Complexity and the Experience of Leading Organizations (pp. 181–202). Routledge. https://books.google.no/books?id=8fADjdztgwEC