A Coaching Power Tool created by Vijay Kumar Karai
(Executive Coach, India)
With great power comes great responsibility. This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man. – From the movie Spiderman (2002).
In the movie Spiderman (2002), Peter Parker gets his super powers accidentally. Initially, he doesn’t really know what to do with his powers. He is tempted to cash in his powers to fulfill his desires. While, there is some short term happiness, he soon realizes that these super powers is not just for his own personal pleasures but one that needs to be harnessed for the benefit of people. It is a responsibility that needs to serve the larger good of the people.
Let’s first start in understanding what ‘Responsibility’ really is. The definition as per Freedictionary.com is:
- Liable to be required to give account, as of one’s actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust.
- Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority:
- Able to make moral or rational decisions on one’s own and therefore answerable for one’s behavior.
- Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable.
- Based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking.
- Required to render account; answerable.
This tool has been created keeping my target client in mind, ie the 2nd or 3rd generation entrepreneurs. Often these clients inherit the business from their family. The client is confused how to look at this inheritance, ‘a gift from their family or a responsibility’. Hence it is important that they sort out this issue as soon as possible.
The promoter entrepreneur often builds the company from scratch and has made it the hard way. Sometimes, it is the 2nd generation entrepreneur who takes over a small business and builds into a large one. He hands over the business his son(s)/daughter(s) with a trust that they take the business to the next level.
The next generation entrepreneur is typically born with a silver spoon in the mouth. They often have everything easy and enjoy life until one day they are told they are ready for the business. During this time and until they takes over as the head of the business, the client often is unable to see his inheritance as a gift or as a responsibility. Many such business heirs who looked at their inheritance (businesses) merely as a gift have mostly squandered away their fortunes.
No man was ever endowed with a right without being at the same time saddled with a responsibility. – Gerald W.Johnson
For example, Mr.Azim Premji had to cut short his studies in Stanford to take over his father business at the age of 21 years, due to the sudden demise of his father. In the next General Body Meeting, a shareholder doubted his ability to lead the company and suggested that he sell the company to a mature management. Mr.Premji, resolutely pursued the business, diversified and built it (M/s. Wipro Ltd) into a 20 Billion dollar company. The vacuum created by at the top due to unexpected demise of his father and the expectations of shareholders compelled Mr.Premji to shift his perspective towards inherited business to one of responsibility than just as a gift.
There are several instances where the client may not be forced to take over the business in such a dramatic circumstances. It is also possible that more than one sibling and sometimes even cousins inherit the business. Such client(s) still need to see that the business is more than a just a personal gift.
Other perspective is also to see one’s responsibility as a gift. For example, Mr. Bill Gates was responsible in building Microsoft into a multi-billion dollar company. He sees his responsibilities and money amassed as a gift and decided to give away a large portion of his wealth for charity, especially to fighting AIDS.
This Power Tool is to help the client to a shift in perspective of how to view the inherited business. The aim is to help client see that gift and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
This tool is applicable to all of us. We are all blessed with so many gifts, some of which are obvious and some are not. For example, when a couple is blessed with a child, it is a gift. Every day, seeing the child grow up is a gift. However, the couple doesn’t merely see the child just as a gift, but also as a responsibility. The responsibility to nurture the child, make them healthy and to instill the right values in life. As the child grows older, the responsibilities increase such as organizing funds for paying tuition fees, etc.
Another example could be in case of gifted sportspeople. They have a choice of either putting their gifts to responsible use or squandering away chances by misusing the skills.
As coaches, many of us are endowed with many gifts, such as powerful communication skills, good education, a great network, etc. The coaches has a choice of using their gifted communication skills to either smooth talk their way through coaching sessions or use their skills responsibly to help the client to find meaningful solutions.
Some key questions that we could ask of ourselves:
- What skills do I possess as part of my natural abilities?
- How do I wish to use my gift?
- How do I feel about the way I use this gift?
- If I won a $1 Million in a lottery, how do would I use it?
- What if I won $100 Million? Would this gift be for just me & my family or something more?
The coach can play a very powerful role in helping the client (the next generation entrepreneur) in shifting their perspective in how they look at their business. The coach can help the client shift perspective from seeing their inheritance as a personal gift which serves their and their immediate family’s needs and indulgences to one where they see that the business as an entity which serve a large purpose, namely, the employees, shareholders, vendors, customers, etc.
The coach needs to understand the client in order to make this shift. This can be done by asking some powerful questions:
- What is holding the client back?
- How does the client see himself/herself at the helm of the business?
- How do they feel about it?
- What does the family name & family business mean to you (the client)?
- How does the client see themselves 20 years down the line? ( The question is to check if their passion is aligned with the business that they inherit)
It is possible that some clients may feel that the onus of running the business as too tough or see it as a burden. Some of these could be limiting beliefs and/or dis- empowering perspectives. The coach can help the client overcome such beliefs and change perspectives with regard their thought process.
Once the coach has a better understanding of the client and his outlook, he can then focus sharply on questioning the client so that they can see that responsibility in the gift (inherited business).
Some powerful questions to recognize a Responsibility in a Gift are:
- Why did the father/mother/benefactor hand over the business to the client?
- How many people is the ‘inherited business’ impacting? How many employees, vendors, shareholders, etc dependent on this business?
- Assume you have 0% responsibility, how would it impact your business?
- How would the stakeholders respond if you took 0% responsibility?
- If you took responsibility that is best suited for the business, do you think the business would be bigger and/or better off than the one you inherited?
- How does that make you feel?
Helping the client attain this shift in perspective is the biggest support that the coach can provide.
Once, this realization takes place, the rest is relatively easy. Coach can then help the client to either take over the business with full responsibility or hand over to a management team who are best suited to do full justice to the business.
In conclusion, receiving a gift is not a bad thing. In fact, all of us look forward to receiving one. The moot point is how we look at and use this gift is what separates a successful person from another.
Can you list the gifts that you received that you felt didn’t deserve it?
What action(s) did you take to put that gift to responsible use?
What would you like to be remembered for? A receiver of a fantastic gift or a person who made most of the gift which benefit the society in general.
Can you name a few characters from history or mythology, where the person who was given a gift put to responsible use? In what way can you relate to this person?