In order to better accompany individuals and collectives systems such as teams, families, networks and organizations, systemic coaches constantly have opportunities to model performing communication and behavioral skills. To offer a few examples, whenever they establish contracts, manage time, help to change perspectives, focus clients on options, accompany their action plans, etc. coaches are not simply focused on the content of client issues. They also model performing behavioral skills. By repeatedly if not systematically deploying pertinent competencies to accompany clients, a professional coach consequently trains them. This is done all the more through conscous modeling if these behaviors are regularly and pertinently repeated from session to session. In doing so, coaches indirectly train their clients to develop the same effective behaviors and ultimately become more autonomous, from the coach!
By taking this modeling principle seriously, it becomes useful to define which specific coach behavioral competencies could be vital to model to all clients, no matter their professional and personal contexts.
An aware coach could then systematically deploy these competencies, throughout the coaching relationship, no matter the client apparent issues or subjects.
These essential competencies actually exist in management, coaching, and maybe even parenting. The are so commonly used that they could be considered universally applicable systemic micro competencies. They are in fact simple and very effective behavioral habits that can be consciously learned and deployed by anyone, anywhere, everywhere. In fact very effective people do it tall the time, naturally! These micro competencies are systemic in several ways. They:
- Are locally applicable. They concern short and simple behavioral patterns that any individual can initiate at any time, alone or collectively, in all relationships, in any personal or professional context.
- Have an immediate beneficial influence on the situation, on the person who is deploying them, in the interaction with others and on active or passive local environments.
- Also have a much larger effect in time, on the medium and longer term.
- Have, though capillarity or viral distribution, a much more indirect but consequential effect in space, on larger systems in the environment.
- Are functional, applicable in all individual or collective situations, in personal or professional contexts.
To consider the nature of such systemic micro competencies within known biological communities, let us consider, for example, the ones that are deployed within anthills. Each individual ant in such a community constantly takes the initiative to deploy one among a limited set of competencies, and immediately informs other ants in the immediate vicinity. In effect, any ant that perceives that it is useful to clean the hatchery, or to take out the trash, or to go foray for food, or to repair a tunnel, etc. simply takes the initiative to deploy competencies to that effect, and immediately informs any neighboring ant of this initiative.
By constantly and naturally acting on a limited range of simple competencies, these insects develop communities that include millions of individuals, sustainably cover hundreds of square miles, and this without any form of hierarchy. Indeed within anthill, there are no leader ants, no managers, no experts, no budgets nor five-year plans, no control systems, no executive teams, no headquarters, etc. It is an extraordinary example of very efficient self managed systems. Nature offers many more such examples of extremely effective yet simply run organiszation. Bee hives, schools of fish, termite nests, sparrow murmurations and other naturally performing communities all seem to function in the same way as if by some sort of organizational magic.
- Caution: this article is not proposing an idealist model to develop similar flat forms of human organization. This would be totally paradoxical. Nobody ever proposed any form of model to insects, birds and fish. Tehy developed it themselves, quite naturally, without a coach!
The object here is to seriously consider the pertinence of a few simple, performance-oriented, human micro-competencies that could allow more successful emerging results within all our existing social and professional organizations. In order to clearly formulate this working hypothesis, our question becomes: How can we single out and clearly define a simple set of micro competencies that will appropriately answer to the following systemic criteria::
- Human micro competencies should be obvious, easily acquired by all, applicable at all times and in all personal and professional contexts.
- They should simultaneously foster individual, collective and system development on the short, medium and long term.
These human micro competencies should also apply to the higher level of complexity that corresponds to our modern human reality. To achieve that:
- They need to concern the form or the process of our actions rather than their content.
A first individual micro competency with clear systemic effects and which answers the above basic criteria is the capacity to make decisions.
- Caution: This concerns the capacity to be decisive, no matter the content of the needed decision.
At all times, in all life situations, decisions are acts of creation. Even when it is justified by fear or the need for more facts and analysis indecision, is often no more than procrastination and temporization, postponing and passivity. Individual and collective indecision is our most fertile ground for uncertainty, which in turn reinforces indecision even more.
Any good or bad decision rapidly provokes an information loop with new useful input. This allows decisive people to rapidly adjust and move forward with another decision. And this again and again. One can compare such decisiveness to the simple act of walking. Each step forward calls for another and yet another, and the process allows forward movement. Each new step also adapts to the route, to changing goals, to redress past slips and mistakes. This creates progression or progress. The first steps in life are generally considered to be big risks. These create the initial movement or momentum that then allows us to cover unbelievable distances, achieve our wildest dreams, just one step at a time.
- The only mistakes would be to avoid to decide, or to decide for once and for all.
This micro competency creates room for initiative, action, reaction, movement, progress, opportunities for growth.. It also concerns the decision-driver function, one among the four team-meeting Delegated Process roles presented elsewhere on this website. By extension, notice that this micro competency is also at the heart of all contracting and alignment processes in any situation that calls for goal-focused partnerships or collective action. And decisiveness is also rather instrumental in Transactional Analysis and in all contracting and agreement processes, on all levels of coaching sessions and sequences.
A second individual micro competency that wields systemic results is the capacity to actively provoke energy circulation, or activate circularity, within any personal or professional context or system.
- This micro competency consists in actively engaging and reengaging, distributing and redistributing, directing and re directing all forms blocked energy. Everything needs to flow!
Blocked energy may take the form of repetitious self-centered behavior, of competitive or relational polarities, of habits, passivity or routines that naturally emerge within all personal and collective contexts. Blocked energy is waste.
The circularity-focused micro competency naturally follows decisiveness. Its function is to activate flow and action. It is fundamentally entrepreneurial. It addresses all retained resources that may be inactive, ignored or disqualified in any situation. In a creative way, its function is to activate the quantity and speed of deployed energy exchange within participative interfaces, between all people and all available resources. This focus is on energy flow or circulation within interfaces (energy) rather than on people or contents (matter). In human systems, this micro competency is therefore fundamentally focused on participative reactivity, on fostering collective intelligence, on by-passing all limiting control-oriented strategies.
Note that when this competency precedes alignment created by decisiveness, action can then become senseless, lack direction, be messy, hyperactive or chaotic. This underlines the need to learn how to deploy any set of micro competencies in a pertinent or appropriate fashion. Each micro competency could indeed become counter productive if it is not deployed in a coherent fashion, in a good equilibrium with all the others. It is indeed just as useless to decide without following up with action than to immediately act, without any prior deciding aligning towrads a goal.
As a micro competency the capacity to foster circularity in energy flow is also fundamentally systemic. It is central when one wants to add motivation and effectiveness in collective activities.
Within the meeting Delegated Processes model presented elsewhere on this website, the circularity-focused meeting role is that of the facilitator. Many examples of how to create circularity in systems are also presented in another article on system polarities.
A third personal micro competency with undeniable systemic effects consists in knowing how to pace oneself when it comes to following up all actions.
Indeed, knowing how to decide, then how to act may have very little effect if one does not know how to follow up on these actions as they unfold in the course of time. This is true no matter the concerned field or time span. Any law is ineffective until it includes implementation procedures and these include clear deadlines and follow up indications that define how and where the law is to be applied in day to day reality. This concerns measures that allow its effective application to be punctuated in time.
On the simplest level, this micro competency consists in knowing how to measure one’s progression in project management, in travel, or in any other activity. Whether this concerns a very simple and short task, or a long-term complex project over decades, pacing the follow up of how actions unfold ensure that these will be successful and stay within respected deadlines.
- Just as in a soccer match, the simplest rule is to pace actions in two half times, or better, in four quarters. For more ambitious endeavors, pacing takes place weekly, quarterly, yearly.
Pacing quarters has a purpose. At half time, one needs to be conscious that the point of no return has been reached. Half the distance needs to be covered at that point. In a more detailed way, one needs to also be well aligned with the goal and with other partners no later than at the end of the first quarter. One also needs to start focusing on a successful conclusion at the most by the time the fourth quarter comes around. Consequently, the pacing micro competency allows one to follow up actions by measuring the quality of progression, always comparing to initial decisions, eventually adapting everythin in order to succeed in the allotted time.
Beyond time, larger pacing competencies often include measurement systems focused on resources and their progressive allocation, expenses, profits, safety and quality criteria, etc. Complex pacing processes are central in all budget processes, analytical accounting, big data statistics, project and career management, etc.
In a formal way, the pacing function also figures among the Delegated Process meeting roles. It is also quite instrumental in all personal and professional Breakthrough dynamics so dear to performance oriented coaches and managers.
A fourth individual micro competency that wields systemic effects concerns the art of feed forwarding. It contributes to the active, creative and concrete future evolution of all interacting partners in any personal or professional system, within all private or public relationships.
With the object of completing or even replacing positive and negative feedback loops, feed forwarding consists in considering for oneself and/or sharing with others different future-oriented, practical or behavior options, in order to experiment, to innovate and to progress.
- Resting on the principle that all living systems have the mission if not the obligation to constantly co create a perpetually expanding universe, any time an action is concluded, this micro competency consists in asking how one can do better, differently, more sustainably, with more elegance, etc the next time a similar opportunity come around.
After any project, party, dinner, trip, event, meeting, etc. one needs to ask how can I do this differently next time? Consequently, this micro competency is essentially focused on human capacity to constantly innovate and evolve. It consists in proposing oneself and others new positive, useful, pertinent, creative and practical options and solutions that can be implemented in a precise future, It is a rather instrumental process that can be central in all dynamics focused on human improvement, personal and professional development, in all individual and collective contexts.
Assumed by an advisor-coach this competency is also central among the Delegated Process meeting roles developed by metasysteme coaching and presented on this website. Also, a dedicated artcicle ion the art of Feedforwarding is available HERE.
The fundamentally systemic nature of the above micro competencies merits some attention.
First micro competencies cover an important spectrum of complementary dimensions. Consider:
- Decision making
- The increase of energy flow deployed in action.
- Time management and resource follow up in action.
- Pragmatic innovation and future development
For systemic coaches, one could also add the capacity to embody low positioning!
These are not new competencies. One way or another and since the beginning of time, they all figure among leadership and management competencies, and more recently among key coaching skills. As micro competencies they are also very simple core processes, central to all we want to achieve in personal life, professional settings, sports, individually and with others. They are even useful when one just wants to cross the street to buy groceries.
Also note that when they are jointly and pertinently deployed, these micro competencies can help individuals and groups develop extraordinary effectiveness. When they are learned through systematic practice, to the point of becoming natural behavioral habits, these micro competencies can help achieve very ambitious measurable results. To fully understand their fundamentally systemic nature, note again that they:
- Are simple and easy to implement in all our daily activities as individuals, teams, professionals, managers and coaches.
- Can be applied in all personal and collective environments.
- Are immediately and measurably effective. Their first return on investment can be instantaneous.
- Can be deployed by all the actors in any system, no matter their level of expertise, their role, their social status, their hierarchical position, their seniority, etc.
- Are viral in that they are easy both to model and to copy, by all.
- Are easy to learn. One just needs to seize all opportunities to practice, all day long, on any subject, with anyone, in any sequence, on any issue, in any setting, within any project or meeting etc. until they become natural behavioral reflexes.
- Allow the development of collaborative system effectiveness by offering everyone to take an active part in all interfaces that can be focused on achieving results.
In all systems, these micro competencies foster creativity, innovation, people development, subsidiarity or local initiative, delegation, autonomy, empowerment, efficiency, etc. They are the human equivalent of natural competencies such as those deployed in observable biological systems.
Also, in as much as they are practical and behavioral, these systemic micro competencies can help us compensate many speeches and presentationsthat are excessively:
- Ideological, on liberated organizations
- Theoretical on systems thinking
All that is necessary is for each to immediately and locally implement or model simple and practical behavioral skills that have rapid measurable effects.
In a more formal way, through generalized behavioral training and practice, these systemic micro competencies can rapidly provoke measurable team and organizational cultural modification. They simply need to be embraced by employees at any level, at minimum within innovating teams and networks. The effect then spreads naturally. In this way, change management needs not be limited to principles and ideology debated on higher hierarchical levels, never to be seen within the rest of the system. Change management can start anywhere.
As a matter of fact, systemic thinking is quite precise on this point: In order to achieve any result, innovation needs to locally emerge (that means from the bottom up) and then spread from the local to the global. And as far as micro competencies, go the most local is the individual. So when do you start?