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CAHI Fellows Program


Interview with Professor Héctor Martínez

Héctor Martínez is an assistant professor at INCAE Business School on various topics: organizational behavior, human resources, coaching, organizational change, among others. He is passionate about these topics and he is researching and discussing them all the time.

He is a graduate of Key Western Reserve University, under the mentoring of Richard Boyatzis, an expert on issues of emotional intelligence and change in people, co-author of several books with Daniel Goleman.

We were fortunate to attend his class and we asked for a few minutes to do this interview. The interview follows below; it has been translated from Spanish and has been edited lightly for clarity:

Interviewer: How did you first get involved with the CAHI Fellows program? Hector: I was invited thanks to INCAE Business School, specifically through Professor Andrea Prado. She told me about the objectives of the program, the wonderful projects that the CAHI Fellows bring, and offered me the possibility of being an advisor or a mentor to them. My experience from the first moment was very special because the CAHI Fellows are, literally, changing people’s lives. It is amazing how they make the most of the information we give them, and how they immediately identify how to apply the knowledge in their initiatives and approaches.

It has been very exciting and energizing for me to share with them. The courses I teach, which we call People Management, focus on generating links with other people, which is fundamental because, in the end, organizations should be vehicles for us to realize our dreams. Sometimes, because of designs, because of dynamics, or problems in these encounters between people, we have deficiencies, so my focus is to help them and give them another perspective and new experiences so that they can transform their dynamics and address the realities they face.

Interviewer: What do you contribute to the CAHI Fellows Program? Hector: I try to generate self-knowledge. Initially, I have observed this group extremely focused on their tasks, in fulfilling requirements that can be overwhelming, and I have perceived that some rivalry may appear between them, because they are all successful in what they do and want to reach goals, this is quite natural. My vision is to make them notice that they need time to get to know each other, to develop their relationships and build networks. My intention is to remind them that these people who are around are important to connect with. I also want to show them how to do it in an efficient and direct way.

I try to guide them in that direction, with simulations that requires a particular style of leadership, some guiding coaching questions to use to have good conversations. What they experience in these sessions allows them to visualize a path to generate transparent and positive relationships, that is what I try to teach to the CAHI Fellows. 

Interviewer: What impact do you think the CAHI Fellows can have in Central America? Hector: Imagine what our region would be like if all people found jobs or organizations where they can fulfill their life desires, where they can feel enthusiastic about doing what they do. If all people had that possibility, our region would be an engine of innovation, energy, creativity—I am sure we would change instantly. For me it is about finding “my ideal self”, so I can transmit my energy to my students or the people with whom I interact and so they can offer that opportunity to others, so they can have the dignity and possibility of finding ways to make their dreams come true and change their future.

For me that is the impact that CAHI Fellows can have through their interactions. They are also an example of that, because if they get to generate the impact they expect with their projects, that inspires others to think that they can do it too. This is my vision and I feel extremely honored to be part of that.

Interviewer: CAHI Fellows often face very complicated social problems and situations. How can they cope with them and maintain this perspective of realizing their vision of “ideal self”? Hector: If we look back, we get discouraged. After all, our entire region has endless queues of bad things that are happening. But if we focus only on the past, there is no future. You have to convince yourself that tomorrow has to be better, because there is no other option. This does not imply that we need to stop analyzing what happened before, but it does require that we consider that tomorrow has to be better than today, and today better than yesterday. We are living now and we need to have hope, this is something very important. 

Interviewer: From a more technical approach, what would you say are the most significant aspects that CAHI Fellows learn in your sessions? Hector: I can identify three very specific issues: the first is that performance is explained by people, by the dynamics we have as a group and by our designs. In many cases that might seem obvious, but it is those things that administrators sometimes do not sit down to think about, sometimes reflection on how to structure these things is omitted; on the contrary, it is claimed that more leaders are required, but it is not necessarily true. If we can make designs that facilitate teamwork, if we structure processes to fulfill our desires and visions, to facilitate people’s performance, then there is not a need for more leaders.

The second aspect is the coaching process. The questions I provide help participants have conversations that influence, that generate empathy in others, that facilitate connection, that build relationships more quickly, more efficiently, which will allow them convince people they need to convince to carry out their projects.

The third element is psychological security, which is one of the variables or factors correlated with the success of teams. This is vital, because for you to uncover a problem before it becomes explosive, psychological security is the key.

Amy Benson, who works in the field of psychological safety, studied with nurses. Imagine a nurse who at 3:00 in the morning reviews a prescription and finds a mistake. At that time, she must decide whether or not to call the doctor. That call can be well received with a thank you and a correction of the mistake, or with an adverse reaction and annoyance for having to wake up at that time of night. Based on this experience, this nurse will establish a pattern of conduct in relation to the identification of errors: he communicates them or does not communicate them. Let us then think about what repercussions this may have on lives or deaths in a hospital. That is an example of psychological security and it is something so subtle that sometimes it is not created consciously, or we generate tension because as leaders or administrators we demand perfection and zero tolerance for error, which is something that scares anyone.

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