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Everybody counts. Develop the human. Now. – Six Word Wisdom from Doug Silsbee

We often associate organisational development with supporting people to achieve the goals of the organisation.  But when it comes to developing individuals we often find that traditional interventions and incentives aren’t effective in achieving the engagement and motivation that we know will be critical for the business to succeed.  

Enter coaching. Proponents consider this relatively new approach to developing people to be highly effective and indeed critical in building stronger, happier and better performing organisations.  But how to build an organizational context for coaching that aligns these initiatives with a greater organizational purpose and ethos?

image_preview Doug Silsbee is a global thought leader in the fields of presence-based coaching, leadership development and resilience.  His work integrates deep experience in the development of individuals and organisations using mindfulness, interpersonal neurobiology, and developmental psychology.  Doug was at IMI this week giving an IMI Masterclass on Presence-Based Leadership so we took the opportunity to catch up with him to ask him to distil just six words of wisdom from his broad experience working with individuals and organsiations.

We found he had a very clear and concise message for business.

IMI: Based on your own work and experience if you only had six words of business advice for managers what would they be?


Everybody counts.  Develop the human. Now.

IMI: What does this really mean?


Much of the language used to describe the modern business is that of the machine, of inputs and outputs.   However, we must recognise that organisations are not machines. They are communities.  And like all communities, they are best when the people within them care deeply about what they are contributing towards.

Because of this, in addition to creating products and services, the best organisations recognize that their very existence is in part consecrated to the purpose of developing the people that make it up.  This is a radical reframe, from business as wealth generating machine (which it also is!) to business as incubator for the fostering of human development.

By development I mean supporting individuals to grow not only horizontally, (e.g., in specific functional skills) but also vertically, by deepening our understanding of the world, by expanding what is included in what we care about, by understanding ourselves and the human condition more deeply. This development can, ultimately, even be considered spiritual.

Developing individuals as complex human beings rather than simply towards organisational goals and standards supports resourcefulness, resilience, working with complexity, and seeing a higher view: competencies that are so critical to our achieving a sustainable and fulfilling world. The most effective businesses will be those that understand this and include this in their ethos.

Finally, now is the time to do this – First, there is a growing sense of urgency catalyzed by the global business and environmental context. And, there is a second and perhaps more important meaning to the word “now” – as we look to develop individuals we do well to remember that the only moment we have access to is the present one. What choice do we face? How will we act? Now?

IMI: Where should we go to learn more?

DS: My website www.dougsilsbee.com for information; or subscribe for free leadership practices and access to the resource section of the website. My books Presence-based Coaching and The Mindful Coach offer leading edge approaches to leadership development.

In conversation with Eva Maguire, IMI

Read the whole Six Word Wisdom series to date.

If you’re interested in how presence-based coaching might be used in your organisation speak to us about tailored solutions.  If you’re interested in developing your own coaching skills check out the UCC/IMI Diploma in Executive Coaching or contact us directly.  For IMI coaching events run throughout the year see our events calendar

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