Who is the Leader?

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

The group was trying hard to identify a leader to “tell” the group what is the problem statement so that they can start finding solutions. They were hoping that the problem presenter or the AL coach would play the ‘leader’ role. The group looks clueless and feeling insecure.

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Comments (5)

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    Dee Handyside

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    I’m a little confused as to whether or not the problem presenter had actually presented the problem or not at this stage?
    This highlights the importance of the role of the Coach in discussing and clarifying just what the problem is, prior to the Action Learning session. Is it actually a problem? Or is it a strategy? Or a puzzle? By prior discussion, the PP should be able to present the problem in an effective manner, giving an overview to the situation also.
    However, if this happens after the PP had presented the problem, it would be time to intervene with a “Do you feel that the group has agreement on the problem – Yes, No or Maybe” followed by “please write down what you believe PP’s problem is” and then sharing it. Hopefully, this will be a start to more questioning of the PP to clarify what the problem actually is.

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    Simon Hardiman

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    I would encourage the team to continue questioning and drop the concept of a ‘leader’ as the questionning and answering will bring forward more information and may help the team decide on a suitable direction. I would follow the process and interject at the 10 minute stage with the usual ‘do we have concensus on the problem? Yes / No’ followed by individually writing down the problem statment. Near the end of the session I would ask the problem presenter what are the next steps the group will take. If they are still struggling with the concept of a leader I would ask questions along the lines of ‘How well defined are the teams roles and responsibilities in terms of getting the next steps completed?’

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    Daniel Belet

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    I would remind the group a basic rules of the AL by which each member is expected to participate and to express his/her opinion or feelings and that we are working along a co – constructive process. I share the previous comments suggesting to have each member to write down his/her views, as it could facilitate a shared contribution and the search of a consensus without looking for a “leader”, but rather through dialogue and mutual adjustment within the group.

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    DrBea

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    I would start with the standard 3 questions – How are we doing? What are we doing well? What can we do better?

    Then move into – Do we have consensus on the problem? Followed with Let’s write it down and see if we do. Everyone write down what you believe the real problem we can be helping ______ with today. Remember you may only read what you write.

    After the read out – Do we have consensus? Why is it important that we have consensus? What will help us reach consensus?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    • Avatar

      juliettec

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      Possibly expectations of the AL session could be managed in the pre-work with the problem presenter, and with the participants, so that they know not to expect one leader – identifying leadership skills before embarking on the problem description should also help the group. I am not sure whether this is a group or individual problem and think this might have bearing on how you would respond. If it was a group problem, you could ask in advance who will take responsibility for recording the actions – this is quite directional and not all coaches would want to use this approach with all problems.

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