Dishon Limited is a Toronto-based manufacturer of component parts for mission-critical
equipment such as undersea oil rigs, nuclear reactors, and spacecraft. Its customers include such
global design and manufacturing leaders as AECL, McDonald Dettwiler, GE, and Cameron Controls.
Its productivity and quality levels are, and must be, world competitive in its field. Says Ilan
Dishy, second-generation owner, and President:
“Continuously raising productivity while meeting escalating standards of quality assurance is
continuously demanding. To avoid becoming workaholic heroes requires uncommon
increments in leadership capacities to fuel steadily rising team productivity at all levels, and we
must accomplish this amongst skilled people who come from many different cultural
backgrounds and technical disciplines. Eight months ago we hired Authentix Coach Angus
Cunningham. Attending weekly or bi-weekly sessions with Angus, my senior people have
maintained impressive growth in monthly shipment volume and per-person productivity, and
also gained insights into the meaning and practice of high-performance teamwork. Our
progress is an inspiration to me personally, and in particular has enabled me to recognize more
accurately the latent talent that, once evoked, enables each of us to enjoy growing. We no
longer have to keep twisting ourselves into conventional psychological prescriptions for personal
change. Our culture is transitioning organically to a more trustingly and prudently constructive
and empathic one and I believe the best is yet to come. Angus’ approach, in which vital truth
is simultaneously an enlightening beacon and a practical objective in all our conversations, is
helping the senior people to tap the capacities we have as leaders to evoke more of the
potential for present initiative and productivity in every Dishonian. Despite the difficult market
conditions facing Ontario manufacturers, our team is moving ahead to double our floor space
this year” -- Feb 2008
"Having recently added staff to strengthen our AS9100 Quality Assurance program and
purchasing capability, Dishon now has a superb leadership team that I can trust to make
excellent short-term operating decisions in medium-term and long-term planning frameworks
that I and our sales leadership keep adjusting and articulating" -- December 2008
|How can we grow our capacities to assess our environments accurately and generate
practical ideas for affecting them positively? This question is critical to answer in both
strategy development and the development of every organization's leadership team.
The ways we sense our environments and bring ideas into reality have distinctive patterns.
Each of us has a pattern from nature and our nurturing that is unique, and each of our
patterns has dimensions of depth and rhythm – from reactively shallow but faster to
consciously deep but slower. Yet one can, if s/he so needs or wants, grow one's pattern to
develop a greater range of trade-offs between speed and profundity of response than one
received from nature and nurture. Indeed, any achievement-oriented person will do this in
the ordinary course of his or her income-earning life -- through the "school of hard knocks".
But that is a haphazard school at best: it takes unmanageable amounts of time, and its
graduates are not always functional in the service of organizational aims and goals. So, can
you, as leader of your organization, direct the learning of your leadership team more
consciously and efficiently to meet the needs of your organization?
|"Gone for ever -- at least in our eyes -- is the debilitating perspective that the
trajectory of a company depends on whether it is led by people ordained with
rare and mysterious qualities that cannot be learned by others." -- Jim Collins and
Jerry Porras, authors of "Built to Last"
|Services to Leaders
LCDC: Leadership Capacity Development & Coaching
|The following schematic describes the “inward-outward” process by which we sense our
environments and bring ideas into reality:
Productive extension of the existing range of one's sensing, remembering, imagining, authenticating,
organizing, and expressing abilities can occur if one becomes consciously aware of the implicit beliefs
and intrinsic assumptions that have been limiting them. A coach can help one do this. Experienced
leadership coaches can suggest ways of processing data already known to us so as to deepen our
insights into the situations bothering, perplexing, or otherwise disturbing the equanimity from which
we know that our best choices and decisions are made. Such coaching empowers one to enhance his or
her natural pattern by adding (a) depth (capacity to gain insight for the development of more
thoroughly practical options), or (b) speed (capacity to realize more immediate tactical flexibility).
Expanding the range of our existing "Theory U" pattern adds to our natural learning and intuiting
powers. These powers can engender either vitality or morbidity in our communications with others. So
ethically minded leadership coaches help us become consciously aware of the limitations implicit in our
natural pattern in order to grow in the capacity to lead, either by initiative or by silence, in ways that
are beneficial to all involved. When we become aware of these limitations, we have gained the
emotional freedom we need to choose healthier and more generative ways to develop both ourselves
and others. Moreover, we have learned, consciously, to be aware of the warning signs that we or the
people working for us are losing the inner balance known as equanimity.
Out of balance, we become vulnerable to the productivity-sapping leadership disabilities of our time:
workaholism, which health professionals say now afflicts between 55 and 85% of post-industrial
populations, and narcissistic presumption of entitlement. But in the measure we are able to stay in
balance, the prerequisite for which is being able to distinguish accurately between unaware ignorance
and aware equanimity, we are able to help optimize the learning rates of others.
By discerning accurately where each person is on his or her pattern of cognitive performance, leaders
can calibrate calls for growth optimally:
Coached in this way, we and our leadership team can operate closer and closer to our optimum levels
of performance in the team/association/community/constituency of which we are a member -- a state
coaches call "team flow".
(c) 2007-2008 by Angus Cunningham. All rights reserved. Permission requests.