CO(ach) says: ‘Command Approved’

No Naval Officer would ever dare to approach the CO with a problem. Every briefing presents the situation along with a proposed solution. Which’d better have consideration of every contingent risk, and mitigation thereof. All that one ever hopes for is an approval to proceed. There’s absolute certainty of such only if the plan has been informed by the grizzled salts, the Senior Sailors (or NCOs). They hold the experience, and the technical knowledge. Nothing else is required to ‘make it so’ except the management of those staff tasked with its execution.

this is not the way out of Flying Fish Cove
this is not the way out of Flying Fish Cove

The role allocation would appear to be perfect, partly because the failures are kept secret. We won’t really know why HMAS Ballarat left Christmas Is port in Jan ’05 with throttle wide open. In reverse (shhh). Extremely funny footage, of the PT class falling over during star-jumps as she grounds, is indelibly preserved in the consciousness of many Seamanship Officers.

Watch out for that reef
Watch out for that reef

This post is prompted by an article in the HR professionals forum HRzone on a workplace without managers. Plans are made at grassroots level, using collegiate input. This collaborative phase lengthens the process, and inevitably choices must be made as to the most worthy opinion. Decisions could be entrusted to the individual, the team, or even directors when strategic matters are concerned. The advantage is that the team is immediately committed to the proposal’s fruition.

But when only you as an individual is involved, the sounding board is very limited. Confidentiality and privacy needs restrict selection of peer opinion, and family usually offer lukewarm approval of anything that doesn’t impact upon them. That’s nice. This is where the coach is invaluable. Vocalising of ideas, teasing out the wishful or emotive thinking, and motivating the undertaking are more readily provided by a counselor than an innovation-stifling expert.

Your plan is doomed
Your plan is doomed

I’ve written before on military leadership. Officer training focuses on strengths development because combat is always a two-way tussle, where there’s too much at stake to come second. Sun Tzu’s sagely advice on preparation, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war” is much like the lawyers adage to never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer. And how do you ensure success upfront? “Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time“. The introspective ‘knowing yourself’ is most easily achieved when your character is reflected back – in the same way that a mirror is needed to observe one’s appearance. A good coach helps you look within.

And will save you much hardship when alternatives for ‘finding yourself’, such as solitude in a Himalayan cave, are considered. There has been some discussion regarding desirable qualities and qualifications for a coach of late, and though not mandatory, credentialing for ICF registration sets an appropriate standard. The CO too, has diligently earned their title.

Author: Geoff Kirwood has taken on the world, under cautioned instruction from wife Carole.

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