Creating a Coaching Culture

As the value of coaching for nonprofit leaders became more apparent, Leadership that Works and other coaching organizations began providing coaching skills training to nonprofit staff to create coaching cultures within organizations. Coaching is most effective in organizations where executives and senior managers support coaching and have been through training. Combined with peer coaching programs, this approach builds a coaching culture and creates a more productive, engaged, results-oriented workforce. When organizations and their partners participate in coaching training together, the culture spreads like a social epidemic, and can make action-oriented, individual empowerment, and effective collaboration the norm in organizations and communities.

A coaching culture is created when:

Coaching flows in all directions—upwards, downwards and sideways

Learning becomes a way of life

People actively seek feedback

People engage in respectful, energized, candid conversations

Teams cultivate passion and full engagement

Collaborative decision making speeds up the change process

When staff develop strong coaching skills, their commitment to their work deepens and they communicate more authentically with colleagues, clients and stakeholders. The goal is to embed coaching skills throughout organizations and extend them to key partnerships.

Coaching skills build a common language and foster trusting relationships among staff and between staff and their clients. When leaders start practicing coaching skills, they model new behaviors that permeate the organization. As leaders and staff learn to ask effective questions that bring out solution-oriented thinking, they begin to see the world differently. The process helps people change their old beliefs and perceptions so that they generate excitement about their work.

Instead of using classic rewards and punishment to motivate employees, in a coaching culture, employees easily tap each other’s inner strength and wisdom. This helps them envision a better future, set more compelling goals, make better decisions and take action to accomplish goals. Some additional benefits in a coaching culture are that people:

Create stronger manager-employee relationships

Empower their direct reports

Set challenging goals

Improve decision-making skills

Establish effective accountability

Provide direction for employee development

Improve company systems

What is needed in organizations to make coaching more successful? We start by ensuring the buy-in for coaching at all levels and the training of multiple staff in an organization. We build in support for the champions of coaching in an organization. Instead of getting all the training at once, we spread the training over six months with on-going contact and support from a mentor. In between the basic and advanced training, peer support and learning teleconferences provide an opportunity to brainstorm about what works and how to address challenges.

Excerpt from Coaching for Transformation by Lasley, Kellogg, Michaels and Brown. 

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