Teachers give you skills and options, you need to do the rest
I had the pleasure of meeting Master Planner, Landscape and Design John Goldwyn of WATG at the Tourism Megatrends Conference in Athens last week and the delight of discussing mentorship with him. Both of us work with the upcoming stars of the future - in slightly different contexts - but we came to a similar conclusion...leadership skills centre around taking the "best" action (chosen from a wide variety of possible options), and being confident in following that decision through.
Both he and I shared experiences of very hard working young people asking questions such as "But which one of those is the BEST way?" or "Tell me how I should present myself to get the job" or "In my last job I was always told to do this, but you are now saying something else - which is right?"
I commend questions as I know the motivation is wanting to do the best you can. However as teachers, mentors, coaches we cannot give you definitive rules.
I'm not trying to avoid offering an answer, and often in my classes I will have presented (and helped you practice) an array of different responses that could be used. However, what is right at that moment, in that context may not be right, even seconds after!
My sessions are underpinned by "The Law of Requisite Variety", an NLP concept derived from computing. The organism with the most options will yeild the most influence on the system. For me - John too - it is important to broaden your mind to options, to use my experience to explain situations which you can learn from, to help you develop new skills and responses through practice - but that is as far as it goes.
Like an actor - once you have had the direction, the rehearsal process, the experimentation - it is then YOUR TIME to step out on that stage. It will be your choices, your decisions, your actions that are played out...and your consequences too - but that is the beauty of empowerment. I'm not going to play your part for you - it's your part after all. In the same way - I cannot tell you what is right in every circumstance, because you have to decide it for yourself.
I was concerned when a practicing coach recently approached me and asked "What happens if someone does everything you tell them to but they don't achieve their goal?" - they wanted me to discuss insurance and liability. I said "Nothing". In the first instance coaches don't prescribe, they unlock the resources within the person to take action. They may help shape the options available and talk through the possible consequences so the coachee has a rounded view of what may happen - but they do not offer a "to do" list.
I say the same to my students.
Admittedly I'm finally getting fewer and fewer requests on my evaluations to "Tell me what works" now, so I believe my message is getting across - which gives me a lot of faith in the future leaders whom I see within my lectures...but just in case it hasn't quite gotten through - I'm saying it again here.
I get the "confusion":