Jabu Mashinini: “Somebody decided, that this is going to make them happy…”

jabuFor many years Jabu has been working in the corporate and public sectors for creating change within organizations in the field of development and transformation. Coaching and team facilitation are some of the tools he uses to support leaders maximise their impact in their areas of influence while achieving desired results. In june 2015 Jabu visited Prague to lead workshop at conference European Sharing on Systems Thinking. Talking to Jabu was inspiring to me. I´d like to share with you a part of our conversation.




Jabu, how did you get to coaching?

I got to coaching through facilitation. I was facilitating groups in schools, I worked in prisons, in companies. Through that, I think, the next step of natural development was coaching.

What coaching brought to your life, to you personally?

Coaching helps me reflect all the time. How I do what I do. So I keep learning about myself. It also helps me in terms of recognizing how I am biased in certain things.

What is coaching to you, a technique, a belief…?

A way of life. It is a lens in one, or I see, how I approach life. Coaching is fluid. When you say belief, it is solid. You believe in such and such. When I say ´way of life´, it´s fluid. It´s philosophy around how do I approach life. Which is something that changes all the time. It is influenced by certain principles of reflecting, principles of getting feedback and all those. If you ask me “what is the way of life?”, the answer wouldn’t be a list of this and that, it would be a guide in principles that helps you approach life itself, this is coaching for me.

You mentioned a feedback. I noticed, that whenever you speak and you lover your voice, people get naturally quiet and start to listen to you. Is it some trick? 🙂

First, it´s not a trick. I think, when I do it, it is not intentional, but something is happening for me around of what I am saying. As I speak, I am listening to myself and I am trying to speak my inner truth at the moment. So I think what you see as something that might be a technique, a way of gathering attention, is actually a paying attention to myself by myself. And bringing that back to the coaching, maybe it is what coaching is all about for me – how can I be authentic as much as I can in that relationship, rather than how can I use the right tools. If I use tools, I put them in front of me and it creates a barrier.

We were talking about what is coaching to you. Tell me, what benefits, you think, might coaching hold for the society in next 10 or 15 years?

If you say coaching, I am thinking of it as a practice, not institution. I think It will enter inner space of lot of leaders – and when I say leaders, I don’t mean just company people and so on. Everybody is a leader. First of their own lives and then their surroundings and then perhaps designated leadership roles like CEOs. It is starting to get to a point where we know that people are capable of thinking for themselves, rather than have leaders thinking for them. That is what coaching is about. And that consciousness is growing faster and faster. That makes coaching more and more in demand. If you want to make your people in the organization, or even your children to take responsibility for their lives, you have to act with them in a coaching way. Organizations will have to see people as leaders, not as people who need to be told what to do. So future of coaching is that more and more people will actually need coaching. Even leaders will have to learn how to lead by coaching. If you have a team you need to do your team strategy through coaching methodology, even if it is not really coaching, just more like technique and questions: “There´s a problem here, guys. This is what we need to do… How do we do this…? What would it mean, if that happens…? What are the other ideas, that we are not thinking of, that we should be thinking of?”

This attitude could be good also when a family decides where to go on a vacation.  

That´s true. Look at families how they often behave when they sit somewhere at the table. They are holding their cell phones and don’t talk to each other too much. What’s the message there? Not everybody is happy sitting there. There is no conversation going on. Somebody decided, that this is going to make them happy, maybe it´s the mother or father and so on. Not everybody who is part of this was involved in saying if this is happiness.

Perhaps they do not even know they can decide. The responsibility is somewhere else…


If we help people to be more responsible, which institutions and which professions will loose their job?

I don´t know if they lose their jobs. It´s just that most professions that are related to teaching would have to coexist with coaching. Also anything that is related to developing people, where somebody is being a bearer of knowledge… That is going to be balanced.

Another question – a challenging one. If coaching goes up and people will get more responsible, what happens to our systems, for instance politics?

We’ll have better thinkers. People who are taking decisions and are responsible for other people´s lives will think more clearly and openly. It is already happening. Some politicians already have coaches. It is the same thing as teaching versus coaching. In old way the politician had an advisor, who was supposed to have all the answers. But advisor has a limited knowledge, so does not advise well all the time. Coaching brings more options, more thinking about consequences as well. Looking at the bigger picture. More systems thinking. If coaches don’t coach politicians it´s actually a lost opportunity. If we don’t see politicians as people who need the exact same things, we losing our opportunity of bettering our society, because those people make decisions, that effect many of us.

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