What are Coaching Cultures and Why Don’t They Catch On?

I’m back! It’s been ages since I’ve blogged. I have a good excuse, though. I’ve been working with the wonderful creative team at Braidio to turn our Coaching in the Moment® workshop into video-based digital learning (Feedback in the Moment® available by the end of 2017). That is, it’s video of me teaching both courses, with coaching scenarios that are brought to life by actors, and debriefed by me in conversation with animated characters, and so much more. It’s mobile enabled, and available globally!

Creating a rich, multifaceted digital learning experience has been a HUGE investment for everyone involved. One that I think is well worth it because it directly addresses some of the big reasons that coaching cultures may not take hold the way we want and need them to. I’ll reveal my thoughts on those reasons, and give you some practical ideas on how to address them in your organization, in a series of blogs that will be posted over the next five weeks.

Register for our free webinar, How to Grow a Coaching Culture to learn more. And be sure to join the conversation and share your thoughts as we go along.

What is a Coaching Culture?

Let’s begin our conversation by determining what a coaching culture actually is. Like coaching itself, there are many different perspectives on this.

At Cylient, we define a coaching culture simply as taking a coaching approach to getting things done. I don’t mean just people development; I mean anything and everything.

That means integrating coaching approaches into any conversation, with anyone at any time so that people are learning with and from each other, in the moment, from their day-to-day challenges and opportunities. In short, when a coaching culture takes hold coaching-based leadership becomes the preferred leadership style in your organization. In practical terms, that means leaders focusing more on helping people find their own productive path forward, rather than telling them what to do.

This doesn’t mean that everyone has to become a fully-fledged coach who sets development goals for others, and meets with them regularly to hold them accountable. That’s one expression of coaching, but I don’t believe that’s the foundation of a coaching culture.

At Cylient, we define coaching as the translation of insight into meaningful action in order to realize potential. Regardless of whether coaching is expressed as a simple tool, an ongoing relationship that is devoted to development of any kind, a leadership style, an organizational culture, or a way of being—this is the fundamental process that defines the experience of coaching.

It’s that process of continuously igniting insight, and then grounding the learning with action, that creates the high levels of engagement, and fuels the engine of transformation, that are the hallmarks of successful coaching, and a successful coaching culture.

In other words, coaching cultures take hold when a critical mass of people make coaching-based leadership their leadership style of choice. That means they choose to take a coaching approach to their day-to-day interactions. They get curious about how other people view situations, rather than adamantly arguing their points. They approach disconnects and challenges as opportunities to help others learn and build confidence, rather than as punishable offenses. And they see it as their responsibility to help others to realize their potential, by getting better at what they do, and by being better people.

That’s a huge—and incredibly complex— change. Embracing coaching as a preferred leadership style requires people to fundamentally transform how they perceive and relate to each other. Think of it this way: it’s as if your organization has been playing baseball for decades and it’s suddenly announced that you will now be playing competitive basketball. It’s that BIG.

How to Instill Coaching Cultures

To successfully instill a coaching culture people need to learn entire new skill sets. They need to let go of old, rigid ways of thinking, and become more present and fluid in how they respond to situations. They have to put down the bat and learn how to shoot hoops. And learn how to play the new game—and coach others to learn the new game—all at the same time!

That’s complex change that requires a systemic approach to make it happen. (Learn more about this through our free webinar How to Grow a Coaching Culture).

Here’s why coaching cultures are worth all of that effort:  Coaching cultures are essential for organizations to remain competitive in times of complex change. That’s because coaching-based leadership creates resilient, confident people who know how to learn and collaborate together to deliver real results, in real time. Those are essential skills needed to address the complex challenges of our time.

That’s the promise—and the challenge—of instilling a coaching culture.

Over the next five weeks, we’ll look at some of the fundamental reasons I believe that coaching cultures don’t always catch on. And we’ll look at how you can take a coaching approach to productively address those challenges. Be sure to stay tuned by signing up for my blog if you haven’t already.

Want to experience our new Coaching in the Moment® video-based digital learning?

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Dianna Anderson, MCC
CEO, Cylient

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