When leaders coach, they create a culture that is empowering and energising. When coached, people develop, their motivation elevates, and they engage more deeply. Organisations with excellent cultural support for coaching experience 13% better business results and 39% stronger engagement. Organisations where senior leaders coach very frequently enjoy 21% higher business results, according to Josh Bersin.

Coaching cultures are more responsive and adaptive

Organisations need leaders who can make change happen quickly, which coaching facilitates.  When coaching is added to learning programs, learning increases by up to six times. Coaching helps by making sense of change, guiding individuals through change and making every conversation aligned to the change.

Coaching shifts the power dynamic between leader and team. Through coaching, power is granted generously, which empowers. Leaders see power as more like a see-saw, balanced between themselves and others, than a jungle-gym, where the aim is to claim the highest ground.

For a coaching culture to thrive, typical competitiveness between senior leaders must reduce. By adopting a coaching style laterally as well as hierarchically, senior leaders reduce petty silo behaviour. They acknowledge the necessity of collaboration for achieving strategic outcomes. Senior leaders need to be less focused on the high ground, achieving success through individual effort, and aim for success through shared ground, the aligned efforts of everyone.

In a coaching culture, leaders ask;

  • How can I help my team to be its best?
  • How do I work with my peers to best meet our challenges?
  • How do I balance an investment in future capability with a focus on results now?

In a coaching culture, everyone’s performance is elevated

The simple reason for creating a coaching culture is that coaching elevates the performance of everyone.

The coaching process generates new ideas, new possibilities, and new energy. In a coaching culture leaders cultivate trust by supporting and developing others. They focus on helping others to do their best work. Not only does more and better quality work get done, this has the enormous benefit of relieving the ‘power stress’ they feel.

Coaching increases well-being at work; people feel more satisfaction, are more positive and are more likely to feel they have the right resources to meet their challenges. And by being deliberately developmental, a coaching culture grows future leaders as it empowers and develops current leaders.

Coaching is also an excellent way to improve culture. According to Groysberg, a coaching style reinforces a flexible culture that is guided by purpose and learning. People welcome change rather than stability. They care about the future, and are more open and agile. Coaching embodies these features. This creates an affinity between the means and the end, helping to speed change.

How to create a coaching culture?

To cultivate a coaching culture, senior leaders need to:

  • Believe in coaching, and to coach others;
  • Model their openness to being coached;
  • Look for opportunities to help others learn, including identifying challenging work assignments;
  • Ask open questions rather than provide the solution;
  • Willingly give and receive feedback; and
  • Have honest conversations.

Coaching is contagious. Its contagion helps it to spread readily creating a ripple effect. When leaders in organisations start coaching, people start to find their own answers and become more resourceful. People work more effectively together because they engage in dialogue, they listen and ask questions rather than tell, and they see resistance as an opportunity rather than a threat. The nature of conversations between people changes. Interactions become more positive. The coaching style ripples out as more people enjoy its experience.

Kets de Vries views coaching cultures as genuinely authentic, clear in purpose and meaning. They create a sense of vitality for people, which leads to feeling invigorated and complete at work.


This article first appeared in CEOWorld Magazine 17th September 2018

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