IS MANAGERS´ HAPPINESS A FAD? Carlos Herreros
Apecs accredited Executive Coach
Master of Science in Management ,London Business School
Past President of the Spanish Coaching Association
For executive coaches, working with executives and managers, it is a must to know and understand at least the most salient management practices and current thought. However , my own reflection on the short shelf life of quite a number of management techniques, leadership recipes, and the difficulty of sifting the lasting and valuable from the fads, makes me wonder - and I think it is useful to share these thoughts with our executive clients- if it would be advisable to reflect with them on what ideas are durable and what have a sell by date . For instance, the Resource Based View of the firm, has sound foundations in micro-economics ; sociology ,anthropology and philosophy have also valuable insights applicable to management. It is my view that we as coaches have the obligation of bringing to the coaching session these issues, and reflect on them together with our clients.
We could ask ourselves: do we have some indication of thinking and ideas that seem consistent, sound and durable, that could be applied by managers and leaders? . My answer is yes. One of them is evolution , and there is already a considerable amount of literature on evolution and management, although very theoretic most of it. Evolution explains life in general and human life in particular; variation, selection, change and adaptation are proven mechanisms for survival and progress. Cultural evolution complements and explains who we are ,how we behave and how could we have a better future. The task ahead would consist of using the principles of evolution to understand the role of executives and how their organisations work , change, survive and ,some of them, disappear.
A few Spanish coaches are working in this direction ; I modestly, am one of them , and the most prominent is Professor Javier Fernández Aguado , who has written the foreword of my book “El directive feliz” ( “The happy manager”) . Fernández Aguado has a deep knowledge and understanding of Aristotle and his vision of happiness. It is on the solid rocks of Fernández Aguado and evolution that I have layed a few bricks on happiness and its evolutionary meaning. Happiness is the result of continuous adaptation The main reason for seeking happiness is that the strengths and values that happiness presupposes provide increased fitness. If we imagine the task of leaders and managers as the continuous adaptation to changing environments , adaptive fitness, it seems obvious the resources that happiness provide them. In my book I present a number of exercises to develop self-awareness, probably the first step towards happiness.
The follow –up of my book is a training method which I call “The four leaf clover” where the core is the I, and each of the leaves are, respectively, the I leader, the I follower, the environment , and the system..
As executive coaches we have the obligation to help ourselves and others to found management on science and experience that have proved their validity , like Aristotle´s happiness, over long , very long periods of time.