Planes, Change, and Coaching

By Excel Group Development

Senior Leaders Crucial for Coaching Culture

I learned a lesson on this particular airport departure. With schedules changing on the fly (no pun intended), I often end up arriving just early enough to catch the flight, without spending much time in the airport lounge. On one occasion, when I was able to wrap up meetings early, I arrived at the San Antonio airport well in advance to await my flight. As I waited, I immersed myself in emails and reading material, having made myself comfortable with a coffee. When boarding time arrived I went to the counter, only to discover that the gate had been changed as I was reading. I ended up running to the new gate in order to catch my flight.

Let’s face it – the heightened velocity of change is here to stay. Today, there are almost as many people using the internet as there were people on earth during the great depression, less than a century ago. How does this change affect organizations and individuals?

Now more than ever, organizations need to lead people in a manner that:
1) Engages them to perform at high levels to serve a demanding public,
and 
2) Fosters superior levels of innovation
 and adaptability.
The boss-management style of the past is best left in the past. A coaching culture that engages superior performance and innovation will increasingly become a competitive advantage.

In a number of studies, an organizational coaching culture has been shown to enhance employee performance and results. In one recent study, research showed the relationship between internal coaching, employees, talent management and business. It found that there were 3 main levers to focus on: Senior Leaders, Managers, and Human Resources.

The study went on to show that Senior Leaders were crucial in setting the example in a culture of coaching. The Bersin research indicated that organizations where senior leaders coach frequently have 21% better business results than those who didn’t. It looked at various companies that were strong in this area, including Archer Daniels, Grant Thornton, and Scotiabank.

As we work on the “change plane”, be aware that altitudes, speeds and destinations will change. As well, individual team members will approach it differently, and prefer different seat assignments. Some may want to be part of the pilot team, while others are more comfortable applying their talents in other parts of the plane. The job of leadership is to coach ALL team members in a manner (different for each) that engages them to sustain high performance through continuous change. In a sense, no matter what organization we’re in, with today’s pace of change, we are often building (or re-building) the plane while flying it.