Democratization of Coaching
You name it, it’s being called for. Bringing to the masses what has previously been available to only a few. From leader development, to information and data, to change management, a trend toward demystifying these domains and making them accessible and applicable to employees of all levels is in the organizational air.
I’d like to join in the ranks of many others who are calling for a “democratization of coaching,” meaning:
In support of employees – regardless of seniority or supervisory responsibility – having access to skills training that will better prepare them for supporting others through learning and growth-oriented conversations. This also means supporting a culture that actively supports learning and growth through everyday conversation and strengthened relationships, as well as the possibility of engaging in a more formal relationship with a professional coach for their own personal and professional development.
This doesn’t mean everyone gets to call themselves a coach, nor does it dilute the quality of coaching skill among trained and certified coaches. It doesn’t mean people will find themselves in coaching conversations against their will when they just wanted to run an idea by someone or provide an update. It does mean, though, that employees could learn to use coaching skills to support one another at appropriate moments. It calls for a shift in our perceived role in the growth of those around us.
On the notion of creating a coaching culture, Magdalena Mook, Executive Director of the International Coach Federation, writes that in addition to senior leaders demonstrating their support for coaching by engaging in it themselves, “ultimately, coaching should be made available across each level of an organization, to professionals of all ages and levels of experience. This is crucial for a lasting, enterprise-wide impact.”
Named leaders and unnamed influencers (that’s the rest of us) impact one another with every interaction. Studies on mirror neurons, theories of emotional contagion, generosity, reciprocity, mindfulness, neurological responses to non-saber-tooth-tiger threats—these are just some of the more well-known, yet growing bodies of research that inform our consideration of what impact, and dare I say responsibility, we have to one another as socially attuned beings in the workplace.
And there we have the heart of it. Are we willing to acknowledge our impact on one another and become intentional in it? Are we willing to provide skills to employees that allow them to demonstrate concern and support for others and set the expectation that it’s okay to actively do so? Whether you’re trying to create a coaching culture or not, the value of coaching is stifled if the only people in the organization who have access to it are unseen by the majority of employees, and if coaching skills are only put to practice behind closed doors in one-on-one meetings. With just a quick glance at the Gallup Q12, meant to gauge employee engagement, a third or more of the 12 indicators could start to be addressed through the active use of coaching skills by any employee with another. Of course there are caveats, including the need for trust (which can also built by taking a coach approach) as well as permission to inquire of others. Champions of using a “coach approach” are important models for others, especially at the senior level.
Let’s bring coaching skills to the collective, so that together we can accomplish the levels of trust, collaboration, engagement, and productivity that so many are craving, and that organizations are striving to create.