Coaching, reimagining organisational culture

Unless each person in the organisation gears up to face the new, constantly- changing future, the organisation will keep on relying on just a few stars


Behind every successful executive is the contribution of many others. We will lack humility if we attribute our success only to ourselves!

While these others may be our families, friends and colleagues, they may also be mentors and coaches. The well-known batsman Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, has attributed his success to his coach Ramakant Achrekar. High-profile corporate leaders such as Alan Mullaly and the late Steve Jobs have had coaches who have helped them accelerate their business success. Coaches enable people to succeed in their pursuits.

In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, we are surrounded by a need to change. Both the external and internal business environments are experiencing rapid and exponential changes. Research has shown that 60 per cent of the existing Fortune 1000 companies will no longer be on the list in 10 years.

Artificial intelligence, new business models, biotechnology and cellular agriculture are already impacting how we are running our companies.

We know the ‘power of one’, and that individual people can create an impact, but only when an organisation transforms through systemic Change is the effect significant.

A study by ICF and Human Institute (2014) shows that 77 per cent of HR people state that their organisations are constantly in the process of change. “Change no longer happens once in a while. It’s a business constant now.”

There is a breathtaking opportunity for managers to make a difference to their organisation, to keep it agile and ready to adapt to change. The role of Leaders is to create a new outcome. How do we do this? We do this by enrolling people in new possibilities, enabling them to see things differently, changing their thinking and, therefore, behaviour and actions.

Unless each person in the organisation gears up to face the new, constantly- changing future, the organisation will keep on relying on just a few stars. A cricket team, for instance, needs each member to give their best for the common goal and vision. Each person needs to be encultured in the same purpose and build their capabilities. Therefore, when we create opportunities for coaching conversations that give space and time for people to reflect, it is not just the ‘top talent’ or ‘high performers’ we must serve, but the entire human capital of the organisation.

Corporations today are talking not just about hiring executive coaches for top talent but also creating systemic change through creating a culture of coaching in their organisations.

While many organisations have realised the power of executive coaching, access to coaching is sometimes restricted to certain talent pools and some grades. To unleash the full power of coaching, organisations need to foster and create a coaching culture. Culture refers to the way we do things, and when coaching conversations happen as a matter of routine – as a way we do things – organisations have created a winning culture of coaching. A culture where there are opportunities at all levels for employees to grow their skills, enhance their values and reach their professional goals.

A coaching culture directly creates more engagement at work:

“65 per cent of employees from companies with a strong coaching culture rates themselves as highly engaged.”

Coaching also has a direct correlation with better financial results for employees:

“60 per cent of respondents from organisations with a strong coaching culture reported their 2013 revenue to be above average compared to their peer group.

Coaching also enhances work performance and improves team effectiveness. Most importantly, we are creating future-ready employees who are autonomous and empowered to make decisions for the organisation’s good.

The International Coaching Federation identifies some aspects that are predominant in companies with a strong coaching culture. These are: employees-value coaching, senior executives value coaching, coaching as a fixture in the organisation with a dedicated line item in the budget, managers/leaders spend above average time on weekly coaching activities and managers/leaders have received accredited coach training.

Companies with a strong coaching culture, beyond hiring external coaches, invest in building the capabilities of managers and leaders to coach their internal teams and engage certified coaches, internally.

There is a strong business case for developing the abilities of line managers to coach their teams. Line managers need to balance the conversations with their teams between being performance oriented and development oriented. Being trained in the art of asking the right questions and creating an empowering work environment for their teams, they strengthen the culture and the capabilities of their team members to perform better. More importantly, they develop the capacities of their team to take decisions on their own and build a culture of conversations in the organisation. This then accelerates change, thereby creating a new future.

Some metrics that can be used to measure whether a coaching culture has been created are: the number of informal/formal leadership development coaching conversations held per team/manager/function; changes in the employee- engagement scores; attrition levels; improved employee relations; capability enhancement and so on. These aspects are measurable and quantifiable. Other qualitative metrics would be the level of trust, speed of decision-making, sense of empowerment, workplace dynamics and so on.

In today’s business context, building future-ready organisations is possible by building a culture of coaching and conversations.

Learn more about the impact of coaching and how to build a coaching culture through ICF Researches

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering coaching’s role as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 50,000-plus members located in more than 145 countries and territories work toward common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and upholding the highest ethical standards. Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching.

In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi NCR, ICF Hyderabad, ICF Mumbai, and ICF Pune.

The author, Anu Wakhlu is the executive director of Pragati Leadership and business head of CoachMantra, which is counted as one of India’s leading coaching solutions provider. Wakhlu is a MCC Certified Coach and has been coaching C-Suite for over 18 years. Her approach to coaching is based on the ICF principles. She is also a mentor coach for other budding coaches. She has written many blogs and articles on coaching. Apart from doing one-on-oOne coaching for senior executives, Wakhlu also has designed and conducted programmes for industry leaders on how they can be better coaches for their teams.

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