Coaching is more than a collection of effective techniques. The qualities associated with coaching are the ones that energize us and generate creativity and commitment. Coaching culture is about having the conversations that may not usually happen to make sure we understand and can act in ways that amplify collaboration, agreement, and alignment.
The first step is understanding the myths and misconceptions surrounding coaching culture. These assumptions can prove major resource drains for organizations looking to implement a coaching culture:
- Coaching culture is achieved via lots of coaching, as if sheer quantity of programs could change a culture. True culture change is not an accessory that can be clamped onto the current system. It has to touch both formal and informal processes and be embraced because it just works better.
- Changing to a coaching culture can be the flavor of the month. The glittering possibility of an inspiring, creative, and humane workplace attracts us, but overly optimistic pictures can blind us to ineffective approaches.
It’s best to think of this kind of culture change using metaphors like farming. Farming implies starting small, planting many seeds, and being willing to nurture the process through multiple stages. Organizations that successfully implement a coaching culture approach the process in phases. This White Paper challenges you to avoid these assumptions as you cultivate a coaching culture throughout your organization.
Why a Coaching Culture?
Coaching is most well-known as a collection of techniques or a professional service, but beneath the prominent public face are key assumptions and a philosophy of human change, accomplishment, and well-being. Coaches ask questions, encourage exploration, reluctantly advise, and show well developed listening and feedback skills. These are the superficial manifestations of a view of human relations that radically embraces the competence of each person. A coaching view affirms that by inspiring discovery, reflection, and persistence in another person, that person becomes capable of significantly greater achievement, deeper and broader thinking, and more consistent expression of their values over time.
We have all experienced relationships that inspired us and suffered under others that demoralized us. Consistently, the qualities associated with coaching, such as deep self-awareness, genuine interest and caring expressed through curiosity, open questioning, and listening, are the ones that energize us and generate creativity and commitment.
Part of the power of coaching is that it gives a mechanism for leaders to balance toughness of mind with consideration for the emotional climate of those they lead. Coaching is mostly about getting to the truth, but what makes it powerful is its assumption that the recipients of uncomfortable truths can and will change. Coaching never misleads others about the consequences of their actions, choices, and relationships. Coaching is about discovering the whole truth, facing the tough issues, and creating a liberating space for improvement.
Coaching culture is not just “doing coaching.” It’s having the conversations that may not usually happen—across functions, across levels—to make sure we understand and can act in ways that amplify collaboration, agreement, and alignment.
To make this more explicit, we will first describe different kinds of situations in which coaching may be valuable. These are not programs, but illustrations of how a coaching mindset shapes many kinds of conversations needed for vibrant organizational cultures. We will call these practical expressions of coaching culture.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams