I had the good fortune and pleasure of being exposed to Etsko Schuitema, and the Care & Growth Model. This was at an early stage of my career in the late 90’s. This exposure was an essential building block as I formed my own personal leadership philosophy. Without a framework, it is very difficult to make heads or tails of the complexity and subtly that comes with territory of leading large groups of people in an organisational context. Care and Growth provided me with an excellent framework. Many of the things that I first learnt in the late 90’s with my first exposure to Care and Growth still guide me today; in both my personal and professional capacity.
When you want something from someone else, they have the power
One of the most profound lightbulb moments for me came from what Etsko calls the Personal Excellence part of Care & Growth. This insight landed most profoundly for me on the 5-day Personal Excellence retreat that Etsko facilitated in the mountains of the Drakensberg.
In the course of that program, I realised with crisp clarity that in any walk of life, when you want something from others you are under their power. The reason for this is simple. If you want something from someone else, it is up to them to grant that something or withhold it. This gives them power over you. They are able to dictate to you on the basis of what you want from them.
Power in Leadership comes from being here to give
On the other hand, when you are there to ‘give’ something, then ultimately you have the power in any relationship. This may sound strange initially but the idea is very straightforward. You earn power in relationships. You can’t take power from other people. People give power to you by becoming committed to you. And they only do so when they believe that you are there to give to them.
It is however important that your giving to others is unconditional. After all, giving is only giving if it is unconditional. Conditional giving is not giving, it is an investment.
And this is the greatest challenge; to give to others without the expectation that they should give back. And without this you will eventually get caught by your own conditionality in the relationship. At some point they will not reciprocate and you will be disappointed. Or, at some point you will not be able to give what is required; precisely because you fear that they will not reciprocate on the condition that sits under your giving.
Using Care and Growth in my role as CEO
Many years later, I inherited a company that had not yet properly integrated several recent acquisitions and was struggling to grow the business.
The organisation had developed into disparate silos and employees associated themselves accordingly, having no standardised ways of working, duplicated functions, and inefficient processes. This led to poor leadership with disconnects between the teams and a culture of non-delivery.
Care & Growth was now part of my leadership approach so I brought in Etsko and his team, led by Pam Pretorius, to develop the sorely missing leadership capability and solve this dilemma.
Introducing Care & Growth to the leadership team
Etsko Schuitema first introduced the core concepts of Care and Growth to the Executive and Middle Management teams. This included the concepts of Care, Means, Ability and Accountability which define the giving required of a leader in a hierarchical position.
Etsko has the fantastic ability to truly engage his audience in a way that drives home the cornerstone of his approach. These leaders aspired earning relationships of trust in the work environment with their teams.
Executive coaching the executive team
We also assessed our various leaders and Pam embarked on individual coaching sessions with each member of the Executive to expand on the practical implications of Care & Growth.
It was in these pragmatic coaching sessions that we worked tirelessly at first clarifying team member’s contribution and then taking this into the workplace and mobilising people to suspend their own agendas and elicit unconditional contribution. It was a unique opportunity to be mentored 1-on-1 by Pam on the process. She is exceptionally skilled at this and it was with great enthusiasm that I looked forward to forthcoming sessions.
It is not a quick fix, but rather a way of life. It is being a holistic redesign of leadership in an organisation. The Schuitema team will make a profound impact on any organisation wanting to start this journey.