A while ago I had a very interesting experience regarding one of my most favorite topic: coaching.
The CEO of a technology company told me he would like to support his executives so they can meet their responsibilities on a new level – even in stressful circumstances.
He had the idea of offering them coaching and asked them which of them would like to get support on a level like this.
I asked him: „How many answered?“ He said in frustration: „Nobody…“
Then I asked him if he could imagine why it was like that? He said within the company is an existing mindset that coaching is for weak people who most likely end up on a „black list“.
I challenged him to imagine himself in the shoes of his executives and then asked him: „Would you contact your new CEO asking for coaching support with a belief like that in your mind?“ Suddenly he understood…
It’s incredible how a mindset can dictate our future.
I want to peek into the topic of sports where the term „coaching“ originated.
If an athlete wants to get to the top, he looks for an experienced coach. Why?
Is it because he is afraid of losing his job or because he’s on a “black list” and needs to make sure he sustains?
No certainly not. He does it because he wants to be the best he can be.
Top management is like top sports! We seek for support to become better on a constant level – especially when we dare to not only be „good“ but „GREAT“.
A sportsman or a team wouldn’t except a coach who hasn’t a clue about the very reason he was hired. They expect a certain level of added value to move ahead themselves.
It should be the same in any business. That’s why we emphasize the “organizational coaching” methodology, as much as we do with very experienced leaders coaching leaders.
Someone recently quoted the following:
„If you believe someone else needs coaching it’s probably a signal that you are the one that needs coaching.“
I assume a part of that weird perception about coaching in companies lies exactly in the example I just mentioned.
HR says, that the first step for knowing which kind of support is the right one there must be clearity on whether it is a topic of ability or of will (including lack of self-confidence or unconscious blockages). When it comes to ability, you need a trainer with specialist expertise.
When it comes to wanting, a coach is more likely to help, as wanting should be resolved in the person himself.
That is the very reason why a lot of leaders think that they can’t do anything if they receive coaching – or even worse: THEIR boss think they can’t do anything because they can’t find a solution for their problem themselves.
I would change this approach slightly to the definition that organizational coaching is a combination of both.
As a manager, leader or even as an organizational coach, it is important to recognize exactly where my opposite is stuck. After a practical and short diagnosis here, a leader should be able to coach with suitable instruments. It should help the person receiving coaching to get clarity about what they want and what they can do. The best possible outcome is knowledge about how to close the gap between status quo and future possibilities. This is exactly how coaches work with athletes.
It rules out the common understanding of coaching as a psychological method with the purpose: „the solution lies only within yourself“ to a broader understanding that in an organizational context there must be more value added as just the mentioned awareness. There needs to be a balance between „pull“ and „push“. Most of actual business and life coaching approaches primarily focus on „pull“.
At the end of the 1990s, a new type of coaching developed out of psychotherapy. It was firmly anchored in the belief that the solution lies exclusively within the coachee, and the coach is prohibited from actively giving a suggestion or concrete help (what we call “push”). For almost 20 years now people have tried to implement these “pull only” approaches in leadership. The result is that so many executives face a problem. The assumption that the role of a coach and the role of a manager with responsibility for achievements and results is a conflict in itself.
We need to break through this limiting belief and see organizational coaching as a blend between different tools and methods. It’s not just one way or the other. It’s a blend.