Work with the Willing

When we work with clients to instill coaching-based leadership into the fabric of organizations invariably one of the first questions we are asked is, “Where should we start?” Our answer: “Work with the willing.”

The current change management orthodoxy is very much about “command and control.” This approach assumes you have to start with the C-Suite and roll down an initiative from there in order for the change to take hold. The backlash created by this kind “steam rolling” approach dooms many change initiatives to becoming a “flavor of the month,” as people understandably resist what is being forced upon them. When it comes to instilling coaching capabilities into an organization it is far more effective to take a coaching approach to creating the change.

Coaching is much more than just a set of tools. True coaching is founded on an appreciative view of the world and a willingness to help others learn, grow and develop. You can’t force people to adopt a new way of looking at the world; rather, you invite them to open to a new way of working. It’s easier, faster, and more effective to start with the people who are most likely to accept your invitation.

Who are the willing?

Look for people who are open to change. Consider leaders of more progressive departments or functions that tend to embrace change before others. Also, look for areas where instilling coaching capabilities will help address signficant challenges, such as an IT department that is having difficulty getting people to implement a major systems upgrade. The willing are the people who see the value of trying something new. Start with them.

Then what?

Support the early adopters to successfully integrate coaching-based leadership into their day-to-day activities. Identify the kinds of follow-up support that will work best for them. It’s important to have a variety of options available to align with different learning preferences and work circumstances. As these early adopters become more confident in their coaching capabilities ask them to partner with you to recruit others to experience coaching development workshops. Continue this process until the “buzz” about the value of coaching creates so much pull that people are asking to attend the coaching workshops so they can be part of the action.

Sustain the momentum

Continue to look for ways that people can support each other in the learning process and deepen their experience with coaching-based leadership. Share success stories and encourage people to let others know how coaching is making a difference for them. This attracts more people who are willing to learn about coaching and helps to build the kind of learning network needed to make coaching a way of life.

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