A concept exploring the parallels between the organs in our body, people in organisations, and coaching.

 INTRODUCTION

Do you ever think about how your body is functioning with all its incredible organs and connections? If we thought about it too much it would do our head in. For example, when you take a bottle of milk from the fridge, do you ever think about how high you must raise your arm to reach the shelf; how tight a grip you need to hold the bottle so that it won’t drop. How do you feel the cold sensation of the bottle; and when you open the bottle, how do you know how far to tilt the bottle so as to pour just the amount you need?

Our bodies carry out over a million functions like this every minute.

Here is another amazing example of our body at work taken from the BBC Inside the Body Programme presented by Dr. Michael Mosley. ‘The heart drives the entire circulation taking oxygen to every part of the body. White blood cells in the bone marrow, affectionately known as nurse cells, nurture red blood cells for five days and then set them free. They produce 150 million red blood cells every minute. There are 25 trillion red blood cells going around our body. They release oxygen into tissues. After four months the red blood cells tire out and return to the marrow where they are destroyed.’ How amazing is that?

This article is the continuation of “The Rhythm of Being” series. The organ we are going to think about today is the skin.

I discussed this concept with a Senior Property Manager of a London office estate a while ago and he wrote me this email.

“I’ve been involved in a refurbishment project and the subject of engaging the on-site team came up with the question on how we can give them pride/ownership of the building. It occurred to me, based on previous conversations we have had, that there could be value in thinking of the property as a human being. Not just in terms of the water and air flowing through the building like blood and oxygen but also because of the fundamental human trait to care more about living things than objects.”

 This quote triggered thoughts about how emotionally attached we become to a property, product or service we provide. What feelings do we have for the organisation and the people we work with?

This concept will be explored further in another article.

At the time of writing, we are, hopefully, coming out of the Covid pandemic; these examples and metaphors can be used whether we are working remotely or face to face.

Here are some metaphor illustrations that can be used from the skin.

THE SKIN

When you step outside, how often do you hear yourself say one of the following – it’s cold today, it’s nice today, it’s hot today? What part of the body notices the temperature first? The skin. A message is then sent to the brain via the neurons and, depending on the temperature, we either shiver or sweat in order to regulate the internal body temperature.

The skin is a protective organ, acting as a barrier between the environment and the internal organs. It acts as a sensory organ sensitive to touch, temperature, pain, pressure, and itching. It also keeps the body temperature constant. When the body is hot, the sweat glands cool it by inducing perspiration and the blood vessels in the dermis dilate (widen) to dissipate heat; if the body gets cold, blood vessels in the skin constrict (narrow), to conserve the body’s heat.

THE TEAM AND ORGANISATION

Can you relate all this to your team/organisation? Who, within your team could be said to represent the skin, thus contributing to the well being of your team. Which team member senses and reacts to outside influences? In a practical sense, this might be simply hearing comments from customers about the service provided. What then is the reaction and response to these comments whether negative or positive?

A skin lesion or discolouration is often indicative of some internal problem. If there is pressure or friction within the team, how might this be conveyed to the outside world?

Similar analogies could be used for the organisation.

Consider the following – How healthy is your team/organisation? How do you know?

The challenge for a leader/manager is keeping the “team climate” constant.

COACHING PREPARATION

When preparing for a coaching session or coaching supervision session the skin metaphor can be used to consider the coachee’s role and the influence they have on other members of their team or organisation. How do they identify external influences that are having an impact on the organisation; how are those influences communicated within the organisation; what prevents the person from communicating important relevant information that will have an impact on the ‘body’ of the organisation?

REFLECTION EXERCISE

Another Rhythm of Being episode will follow.

My thanks go to Colin Lee-Davie, Property Management, Canada Water for allowing me to use his email quote.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Webb PCC FIOH MWIFM (UK based Leadership/Team Coach and Coaching Supervisor)

Jon’s aspiration is to enable people to achieve their true potential that they may not be aware of, by challenging, encouraging and supporting them, and in turn enabling them to share their energy, enthusiasm and motivation with others to provide a positive environment for people they work and share their lives with.

The motivation for looking at this concept was to stimulate ideas using body organs as illustrations and metaphors –

  • to help one be aware of one’s health (‘how healthy are you?’);
  • to be consciously aware of the influence and impact one has on others;
  • to trigger/enrich thoughts about the impact one has on others within one’s team, especially if one is a leader (how healthy is your team?’);
  • to gauge the organisation’s effectiveness (‘how healthy is your organisation?’), this includes people at all levels and has an influence on the organisation’s direction/purpose.