Coaching: Is It a Bunny or a Tiger in Your Organization?

I recall an Accenture ad featuring a fluffy white bunny painted with tiger stripes looking meekly at the camera. The caption read, “Just don’t expect it to roar.”  This sentiment can be applied to coaching. Many people are expecting coaching to create transformational change in their organizations, yet the coaching models they’re using are more bunny than tiger.

Coaching can simply be a new way to keep doing the same old thing, or it can be a transformational force that re-wires how people perceive and respond to the world around them. The form coaching takes in your organization begins with how you define coaching. Our fundamental beliefs about coaching limit or expand how coaching is practiced and experienced in our organizations.

Our default leadership style is problem solving. Essentially, leaders gather enough data until they believe they understand what’s wrong and then they tell others how to fix things. The problem with problem solving is, people don’t like to be told what to do, leaders often miss underlying issues, and no one learns much from the experience. A problem solving approach to leadership produces lethargic, uninspired, compliant organizations. That’s a heavy weight in a nimble world.

Substituting asking questions for demanding data is a first step, however, it’s highly likely that people who practice coaching in this way are still problem solving.  They often use questions to drive people towards their predetermined answers. Or they pepper people with questions until they get the answers they want. That’s just problem solving with questions.  The transformational potential of coaching is lost.

Coaching is far more than simply asking questions. The focus of true coaching is the creation of insight using a variety of coaching approaches in order to illuminate new possibilities. The “aha” experience of learning something new literally re-wires people’s brains by creating new synapses. That’s what inspires people to take action and try new ways of doing things. When people use insight-based coaching approaches to ignite the insight of others the transformational power of coaching comes alive.

If you believe that coaching is simply problem solving with questions, don’t expect it to transform your organization into a collaborative network that learns and innovates at the speed of change. The good news is, coaching bunnies can become transformational tigers by expanding how coaching is perceived and practiced in your organization.

Contact Cylient if you’re ready to turn your organization’s coaching experience into a transformational tiger.  We can help you make it happen.

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