For organizations that are truly committed to growing a coaching culture, there are two critical steps that are often undervalued, and thus coaching culture initiatives fail to deliver results.
The first stems from the need to incite buy-in to the “coach approach to leadership” idea. And, successful initiatives are successful because they actual leverage the power of coaching itself to stoke the buy-in.
The second is accountability to the practice of coaching skills; actually instigating accountability and encoding change management into the program through actual and regular coaching practice.
Let’s talk a bit about this coaching culture idea. How is that different than performance management? Why would a coaching culture or a Leader as Coach initiative be more effective than say management training focused on key competencies such as conflict resolution, or effective feedback, or interpersonal effectiveness?
In working with organizations through culture change initiatives, I’ve disappointingly watched the programs fall flat or fail to meet the goal of fostering a coach approach to leadership, let alone cascade down through the organization.
The idea of a coaching culture where leaders actively listen, foster buy-in through curiosity, encourage engagement through the simple art of authenticity, and bolster innovation by ensuring a safe place to fail, may be conceptually brilliant but is a bit more convoluted to execute.
Let’s take just one of the key ideas that a coaching culture would embrace – active listening. Listening. Just listening. That ought to be simple enough, right? All a leader must do is listen better and listen more. To execute - let’s just tell our managers and frontline team to stop talking so much and listen more. Okay, done. What’s next?
Oh – if only that’s how we humans embraced change! I would wager that 95% of the time, most leaders believe they are already good listeners. Additionally, not only do they believe they are good listeners, they justifiably resist the idea that slowing down to listen will produce better results.
Let’s think for just a moment about a few of the qualities of effective leaders that are juxtaposed to the act of active listening (a key leader as coach competency). Effective leaders tend to have a bias for action, an acute sense of urgency, and a drive for results.
Now, I want you to tell this leader that reliably gets work done through others and has garnered career success by demonstrating a strong drive for results, to slow it down, stop talking so much, and do a better job at listening to their team.
Now, even if this leader drinks the Kool-Aid and is eager to get better results by developing their active listening skills, what will happen when they tell their supervisor that they plan to slow it down a bit and listen more intently to the dribble of anyone and everyone that shows up at their door?!
Note: While this “fear of listening instead of doing” is NOT what a well-conceived, coaching culture training program would intentionally propagate, this IS how actively listening can feel to high-performers and their managers.
I think we’re likely on the same page now. To foster a coaching culture, it’s insufficient to conceptualize about how active listening, or curiosity, or cheerleading, or role-playing with one’s team will impact the bottom line.
A quality coach approach to leadership initiative has to employ its own “coach approach” to fostering buy-in, eliciting insights as to why this would improve results, and how this change in behavior as an organization would reduce turnover, and improve engagement, or attract and retain high-performers, etc.
This is where a coaching culture initiative gets tricky. It’s not enough to “train” on the coaching competencies. A well-planned, leader as coach initiative, deploys core coaching competencies throughout the initiative.
Furthermore, an effective Coaching Culture training program must also include change management components as a means of holding the organization accountable to the coaching culture goals.
One of the most often missed coaching competencies is accountability. Not just training managers on how to hold others accountable but establishing a methodology to hold participants accountable for practicing their coaching skills on a regular basis.
These change management (accountability) components may include mentoring and peer-to-peer coaching, lunch and learn practice sessions, monthly group coaching, one-on-one coaching with a coach or even quarterly, refresh training sessions.
Leader as Coach and coaching skills must be an experience, not just an idea, to produce the culture change organizations seeks.
For organizations that are truly committed to growing a coaching culture, the two key components that must be baked-in to the program are:
- Foster buy-in to a coach approach to leadership by actually coaching through to the buy-in.
- Hold the participants and the culture accountable by actually coaching through to the change.
By recognizing, these two components or how the absence thereof, will either make or break the coaching culture initiative, a learning and development professional increases their odds of success.
We look forward to hearing your feedback and welcome the opportunity to support you in your coaching culture initiatives! Call us for a complimentary, fast-pass strategy session: 281-469-4244.
Looking for a Leader as Coach Training Program. Please also visit our Management Training - Leadership Training Program page to learn more about our Coach Approach to Leadership Training Programs, here. We help organizations successfully build their coaching cultures. Let us know how we may support you and your team.