Marilyn Atkinson is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has authored eight books, including The Art & Science of Coaching trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
Tailoring Corporate Purpose Through Developing a Coaching Culture
When we coaches think ‘coaching culture,’ we look with pride at companies with aligned teams, visionary leaders inspiring their reports, and corporate effectiveness as reported by members at multiple levels. We usually share the ‘hows’ of coaching culture. In this article, however, I want to look more closely at the ‘whys,’ especially why a coaching culture can shift not only daily effectiveness for any business but the love and motivation towards the results that the working teams are accomplishing. I want to get really simple, even simplistic to talk about this.
Have you ever watched a skilled tailor at work cutting into a fine fabric? An effective Solution-Focused coach, especially a strong team coach can work like a tailor’s tool towards corporate purpose. They understand that the leaders and teams are committed to the purpose and that they have their own creative formats, designs, and many patterns of wearability. They also know that the team leaders and members often need assistance to envision – and re-envision – this purpose for today’s wearability. The corporate purpose constantly needs to be shaped and redesigned for the day, the month, the year, or the plan five years out.
Learn more about developing a culture of trust and empowerment in your organization.
With any ‘garment of mind’ we wear, what members of a company want most is their alignment to a common purpose. The coaches ask the big questions that allow the garment of value to be formed effectively from the fabric of the corporate purpose. Through committed tailoring, the corporate purpose finds an elegant, well-honed new shape that continually meets the requirement of the day and the pride of those who wear it.
The essence of an organization is its purpose. The integrity lies in the extent to which it operates ‘on purpose.’ With full integrity, an organization acts with total commitment, precisely towards its purpose. Purpose can often be ‘hammered out’ organizationally as people work with the ethics, power, and community service inside a goal, but frequently it comes from the originators, leaders, and visionaries that begin or expand the enterprise.
To have integrity, an organization must be staffed by people who are totally in support of its purposes, and who act in 100% commitment to them. To the extent that they do not, their actions become organizationally inappropriate, are not on-purpose, and integrity decreases. The garment is either well-tailored or ad hoc. A coaching culture produces refined tailoring and the result shows up in how all the members wear the company’s purpose. With their goals and choices, employees can answer – with motivation and enthusiasm – the key question: Why, of all the possible choices, am I doing this?
In times of turmoil, it is often difficult for employees to stay on track with what they are accomplishing. Some roles may seem far from the purpose. The people in these roles need to know that what may seem like grinding away produces genuine results that the company truly prizes. They need to feel the company mission statement is their mission statement and that the teams truly honor and appreciate what they do. As well, team members often carry around various habits and mindsets that can take them off course from their agreed mission and purpose. Solution-Focused coaching within your organization hugely assists whole system regrouping towards motivated engagement. Effective coaching naturally produces alignment with our most integral inner vision. People recommit to the visionary purposes that they found compelling and clear at the start, and which they find congruent with their own personal vision.
The VUCA complaint, (too volatile, uncertain, complex, or ambiguous) often emerges about the collaborative or external terrain as corporate teams chart their course. Employees express: too volatile (often about having to stretch with external or internal changes), too uncertain (can’t see the future we are creating), too complex (the goals need specifying, clarifying, and sorting), too ambiguous (move clarity needed about who needs to do what by when). Production predicaments can emerge whenever people share a common goal because we need to clarify both overall frame and the alignment of key steps. As players, we so often need to rediscover the organizational purpose and vision again and again as daily shifts impact our experience. With effective coaching, we reconnect with why this is important, and we go back to a clear purpose.
Within a corporate culture without Solution-Focused approaches, misalignment can quickly produce a ‘=swamp of habitual concern where the flow of purpose starts to stagnate. With Solution-Focused coaching leadership practices and the use of Solution-Focused team coaching throughout the company, people continually realign again and again to the joint vision and to their joint promise to accomplish the purpose around which the company is formed. Has the company developed relevant measures linking their products or services to clear organizational goals? Coaches create a bridge of relevancy.
For individuals to be in total commitment and support of an organization’s purpose, their personal ‘whys’ must be aligned with that of the organization. We need agreement on the personal actions required to attain them. In other words, the purposes and aims of the organization needs leaders who enable each individual to act in support of both the company integrity and also their own sovereignty of vision. That is what a servant leader truly does.
A coaching culture operates to assist people to align and realign around their most meaningful joint vision, and to stay with high motivation towards what the company is accomplishing. Strong Solution-Focused corporate coaching produces resilience, the mindset of courage and commitment. It also produces change management flexibility to undergo needed transitions as the corporate enterprise requires new shifts in pattern and design. The corporate tailor needs to keep the vision of purposeful leadership in view. Coaching-style leadership brings vision and purpose together again and again, and all the members enjoy their own corporate style.
As team coaches, we align the enterprise and its leaders and teams towards collaborative dialogue, skills for speedy change, and tools for critical decision-making. Coaches assist people to rebuild these key relational dynamics step-by-step by finding the resources amongst themselves or through their own efforts. The leaders grow in their capacity to lead. Like no others, they can revitalize and relink the teams to their vision and purpose down to the front lines. They assist the company to stay clear and definite in its mission and the integrity of purpose to find key effective steps. They assist the company to vitalize and revitalize the necessary know-how through motivated people.
The company needs a pattern of leadership that is truly clear about what is most needed day by day. Ongoing attention to a coaching culture builds this resilience through assisting leaders to rebuild, rebound, and re-emerge no matter the ‘complexities’ of the day. The focus remains on the company’s true purpose.
How does an organizational coaching culture do this? The key steps are well worth learning. Coaches assist the company to:
- discover how to build and align cultural and corporate purposes that are also appropriate to individual purposes.
- discover key ways to assist corporate players to recharge and find joy and fulfillment with the jobs that they do.
- assist the teams to track well, and affirm the value of their time and effort, while being appreciated for what they accomplish.
When we are building an effective coaching culture, we find these values inside ourselves and stay with a purpose that we have declared to be the right one for us. The company thrives!