"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change."
Applying this liberally adapted version of Darwin’s natural selection theory (attributed to have been said by Louisiana State University business professor Leon C. Megginson at the convention of the Southwestern Social Science Association) in today’s continuously changing world of business could not be more relevant. Darwin spoke of the survival of the fittest. In a business context, the experience of the last decades has shown that, the fittest are those organisations which consistently manage to adapt to the changing physical, social, economic, political, moral and spiritual environment in which they find themselves operating in. Through what is called business innovation and business transformation, these companies literally grow out of their skin and create a new one that better fits their environment and their stakeholders at any given time.
The need to transform business has never been greater. As Sir John Whitmore vividly describes in his book Coaching for Performance, ‘the dot.coms are leading the way and are reaching into reservoirs of previously untapped potential’ ; meaning the potential of their own employees or human resources. If we refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, we may be able to explain why. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization (McLeod, S. A. (2017). Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html).
Maslow’s higher state is the self-actualizing person (ING because it is an ongoing process, or even better, a journey) who emerges when the esteem (belief from others) and self-belief needs are satisfied and the individual is no longer driven by the need to prove themselves either to themselves or to anybody else. The need for self-actualizing is defined by Maslow as a desire to become everything that one is capable of becoming, (Maslow, 1987, p. 64). This may be interpreted as wanting to realize our personal potential, finding self-fulfillment through personal growth, service and contribution to others, pursuing a higher purpose and meaning in life, experiencing and appreciating every moment to the fullest.
The driver of change is leadership. In other words, to achieve long term sustainability through business innovation and transformation organizations need leaders to drive the process. The leaders are those individuals at the top stage of Maslow’s Hierarch of Needs. According to Maslow, the primary need for this stage is meaning and purpose in life and contribution to others. The people that have reached the self-actualizing stage are free from any external dependency (they are no longer motivated by status and recognition from others and they have already built their self-belief) and therefore they make the best leaders.
How do we create these leaders? This is where coaching comes in. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.Essentially coaching functions as a powerful transformation mechanism that transforms individuals beyond the status and recognition levels and beyond self-interest so they can earn the title of a leader and create the new business culture and business evolution. The leaders will lead business transformation and undertake all necessary employee development and change management.
What would it take to be able to attract or create and keep the leaders of tomorrow today? More and more people are looking for meaning and purpose in their work that is worthy of them devoting their lives to it. How do we then combine their need for meaning and purpose to the organization’s need for longer term survival? It may at first appear as an ideological paradox or wishful thinking, but as Sir John Whitmore said, business is a potential force for good and a driver of human evolution. In order to achieve unity of personal and organizational purpose, organizations need to evolve and reconnect their business to its purpose, to its reason for being, which is providing a service or product and contributing to the economy and to society and not just maximizing profits. This is the reason why all organizations need to embrace a new way of doing things and provide meaningful and exciting journeys to their employees. As this is gradually achieved, we may begin to aspire seeing organizations and people evolving alike and becoming symbiotic.
Coaching helps achieve this unity of purpose by working with employees, managers and leaders to identify and align their goals. Coaching takes you from where you are now to where you want to be. Coaching helps the management team move upwards the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, reach the self-actualizing stage and be the leaders of tomorrow today.