An avid student of transformational training, NLP, and business leadership for more than 20 years, Paul Gossen has been an Executive Coach and Erickson Corporate Trainer since 2000. During this time he has conducted more than 2,800 hours of coaching and more than 120 corporate training programs, as well as completed large corporate change programs with the RCMP, American Express, Golder Associates, and the City of Mississauga.
Why Build A Coaching Culture?
During April, Erickson's #CoachingCulture month, it is very useful to focus on key Coaching Culture questions.
Here are some key questions for yourself to explore:
- What is a Coaching Culture?
- What are some of the elements that define a coaching culture?
- How do we express coaching as a leadership style that becomes part of what is expected and preferred in your organization?
An ‘Ask’ Leadership Model: Let us begin with the basics. Asking good questions is the foundation of a coaching culture. You can reduce the entire concept of a coaching culture down to one simple message: ask a lot of good questions. But building a question-based leadership culture also requires additional layers of specific questions, tools, and conversational systems. What is needed?
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Coaching takes place in conversations so it is critical to have the time and space to conduct both one-on-one and team conversations. These aren’t just any kind of chit-chat but structured conversations that follow a conversational roadmap. Erickson Coaches use an Arrow of Relevancy to organize the mindsets. Remember, the ultimate goal of these conversations is to deliver high-impact business results with minimal amounts of time and energy.
Many managers prefer to use a coaching leadership style in a very relaxed way, and you can certainly have a useful mini-coaching conversation in two minutes. We train leaders to relax and use both well-developed structures and immediate intuition to ask the questions that seem most relevant to the situation, without worrying about following every process step exactly. Their aim is to use ordinary business language and after a while they will quickly forget that they are even using a coach approach. The coaching mindset will simply become their default communication style.
One of the most important tenants of coaching style is pushing back on the culture of problems and complaints that permeates most companies. A Solution-Focused team deeply inverts the problem focus, developing shared vision and purpose instead. People often associate coaching with person development and forget that coaching is an ideal tool for delivering solutions to complex technical challenges that require team intelligence.
The Solution-Focused coaching process is always naturally building towards a breakthrough result. A great example is “strategic implementation,” which means asking questions to zero in on the challenge that is blocking a key strategic initiative and then building a project plan to overcome that barrier. This kind of “knowing where to tap” framework can generate high-impact results and an outstanding conversational ROI.
It is very easy for employees to get stuck in a transactional relationship with work, where trapped in a low-performance mindset they see their job as nothing more than an exchange of time for money. Conversely, if they see their work as a stepping-stone to career development and getting what they want from life, everything will shift. Leader-as-coach conversations are most effective for building this alignment between work, career, and bigger goals for life. Regular 30-minute leader-as-coach conversations can establish the foundation of trust required for a high-performance relationship. Unfortunately, until coach approach training and practice moves through the company, the majority of managers simply don’t have the skills or mindset needed to have these conversations, so the relationship sometimes breaks down to a state of mutual complaint. Studies show that 65% of resignations result from the relationship with the person the employee directly reports to.
Strong, long-term motivation comes from the inside, and nothing can replace it. By leveraging the power of key coaching questions you gift your team members with the power to build and maintain the internal structure of motivation that is the key to unlocking their high alignment. Motivation ultimately comes from the inside, but it first begins with clear, well-aimed coaching questions from the outside.
So how do you inspire motivation in your team members? Building internal motivation is a skill embedded throughout Erickson’s managerial Solution-Focused processes. You start it directly by adopting a coaching approach as the preferred leadership mindset you plan to acquire.
Engage & Own
Humans need to engage with a challenge to understand it, and it bears repeating that as business complexity increases the level of engagement must also increase. Asking someone to do a task is not enough — a coaching culture leader engages people in a challenge by asking great questions.
A fundamental rule is that the people with their hands on a problem are the best people to solve it. The more you engage with a challenge the more you own it. The job of a coaching leader is to provide the protected time and space for their ‘brilliant’ team to come up with the breakthrough solutions that can implement transformational results. A leader can kick-off the process with a coaching conversation and then maintain the momentum with weekly check-in conversations. Consider that employees who can independently produce breakthrough results are the most valuable asset in any company. As a corporate leader, your job is to become a manager who can inspire those aims with the people you work with.
By introducing a coaching culture program into your company, you embed a hands-on experiential style of learning coupled with an invisible leadership-development process directly into your project delivery process. This nested integration quickly turns ideas and tools into new habits and makes learning the coaching skills as compelling as it is productive. When Erickson facilitators conduct external programs in companies, we document a consistent adoption rate of 78%, meaning that over three-quarters of managers have fundamentally changed their habits. With teams, we can move even faster. When teams implement the coach approach in their projects it integrates the behavior change at a deep level. All this makes Erickson’s coaching culture programs much more effective than traditional lecture-based training, which normally show only a 5% rate of knowledge retention.
Using simple questions and conversations can synchronize people, projects, teams and strategy into a state of alignment. Start with alignment and performance follows. Active engagement driven by inner passion is what induces high performance in individuals, and our visioning and missioning coaching tools will bring out this passion. Visioning is the process for building a clear picture of the desired result. Missioning is knowing why that result matters!
So, why build a coaching culture? A coaching culture is the most direct path to a high-alignment organization, one that can consistently deliver transformational results. Start transforming your company, one conversation at a time through developing a coaching culture.
Note: This article is adapted from the book: Q Model - The Coaching System for Universal Agility, Team Alignment, and Strategic Implementation, By Paul Gossen.