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Democratizing Coaching – Everyone deserves a great coach

Democratizing Coaching – Everyone deserves a great coach

Making coaching accessible for everyone is an investment that multiplies in value. Unfortunately, coaching is very often reserved for the chosen few. Let us take a look at why we believe everyone deserves a great coach.

Pernille Brun |

We live in a time where the corporate world is endlessly evolving. New jobs and industries emerge with astonishing regularity. For most professionals, however, their formal education is expected to have prepared them for the rest of their careers.

In reality, if we want to keep up, we need to be agile and adaptable. We need to embrace lifelong learning, upskilling, and development. So, in a world, where change is the only constant, who helps us adapt, navigate and reskill for the modern work life?

Professional business coaches empower leaders and employees by helping them play to their strengths, sharpen their skills, and learn new ways of doing things. Professional coaching creates a ripple effect of positive impact on leadership, performance, well-being whilst also achieving organizational goals.

Unfortunately, though, coaching has been limited to c-suite teams and high-paid executives. With 87% of millennials prioritizing professional development, it’s time to deconstruct the barriers and make coaching available to everyone.

Let us take a look at why coaching is crucial and why we believe everyone deserves a great coach.

Modern Work Life Necessitates Evolving Employees

VUCA is an acronym developed by the US Army War College. It describes the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity and it couldn’t be more apt for the modern world.

Much of today’s work has moved online which is an undeniable factor in how our work-life has encountered disruptive change, as we also talk about in this article. But even before Covid-19, our professional lives were undergoing tremendous modifications demanding new ways of leading and working. Change has merely been accelerated by Covid-19, advancing technologies and the influence of new generations' ways of doing things.

You could argue that change has always been the norm. That the world continuously changes and that we, human beings, have evolved proactively and reactively in line. So, is the change experienced today and the impact felt on our work lives really that different from 100 years ago?

Without a doubt, yes. We have speeded things up – and combined with technological advances, we now face a brand-new world where the way we work will remain in perpetual flux.

In modern organizations, people continuously need to be ready to work in new ways, with new mindsets and even be prepared to be totally reskilled. Leaders, employees, and organizations alike need to be adept with change.

While it can be fun, change is challenging. It requires diligent guidance to help employees realize their potential for themselves and the organizations they are part of.

How can we enable professional development in line with change?

Due to the rate, volatility, and ambiguity of change faced on a daily basis in modern organizations, it is crucial to have a place where employees can regather themselves. A place to step back, reflect, connect

to their strengths, and be inspired to stand up for themselves, their team, and their organization.

Resilience, emotional intelligence, drive, engagement, imagination, strategic thinking, and not least learning agility – the meta-skill to navigate change and learn new skills – are characteristics demanded of our leaders and employees.

How can these characteristics and skills be honed and trained whilst simultaneously remaining fully attentive in a full-time role?

Coaches provide ongoing external counsel that ensures leaders and employees stay ahead of their industry. They are not distracted by the internal mechanics in the same ways managers are and can offer clear-headed guidance in digestible relevant formats.

Managers are Unrealistically Expected to Wear All Hats

While clear-headed guidance might sound critical, it is not the way things are done. Our common understanding is that it is the responsibility of management and leadership to incorporate the role of a coach. Our managers and leaders are expected to:

  • Inspire with a compelling vision
  • Define strategy
  • Set targets and milestones
  • Perform their own roles
  • Develop the skills of their team
  • Manage performance

In short, they are expected to bring out the best in us and wear all hats. Some managers thrive in this responsibility while others may fall short. Most simply don’t have the time required to embark on a coaching journey with the employee.

Even when managers successfully satisfy the above metrics, there are still areas where employees are better served by also having access to a great coach. The power imbalance between the managers and employees can make it difficult to establish a fully open, truthful, and equal conversation, paramount for the employee to really learn and grow.

A professional coach provides a safe space where clients can be honest about shortcomings. The coach can leverage that honesty to carefully and thoughtfully challenge employees to work on weaknesses and amplify strengths.

Some organizations invest in creating a strong coaching culture, which basically means they help leaders and employees educate themselves to use coaching as part of their style when helping projects, teams, and employees move forward.

Among organizations with a strong coaching culture, 54% are also classified as high-performing organizations. Among organizations without a strong coaching culture, only 29% are

also classified as high-performing organizations and these indices are positively correlated.”

(ICF global study 2020, p.15)

Is it, however, fair to ask managers to be coaches too or should external coaches be the go-to? We discuss this further in another article from our coaching community.

The Benefit of Professional Business Coaching

While employees face increasingly rapid and volatile change, leaders and employees desperately need space to see the bigger picture. Coaching sessions create that space by allowing your team to step back, reflect, regather and connect to their strengths.

The external guidance brings light to new perspectives, skills, and behaviors and stimulates problem-solving to achieve goals. It keeps your team intellectually fit by provoking deeper thought on the directions and needs of the organization. This headspace and thought imbue the confidence to make tough choices and navigate the ambiguity of modern work life.

Through coaching, leaders and employees are also afforded opportunities to widen their skill sets to deliver higher quality projects and engage, motivate and inspire themselves and those around them. Furthermore, coaches teach employees to think for themselves, be proactive, self engaged, and critically evaluate whether they are taking the right approach or direction in their day-to-day work.

Self-engaged employees thinking for themselves and empowered to make their own decisions are worth their weight in gold! However, this level of coaching is rarely seen anywhere other than in sports.

What Sports Coaching Does Better than Business Management

Everyone is familiar with the role of the sports coach. From the sidelines, they guide their athletes to excel in unison. No team or athlete would ever have won a championship without the right coach to steer them in the right direction. They are responsible for bringing theories to life and from practice into a habit. Results are achieved through recurrent rehearsal and practice. While a single fiery speech might set the adrenalin running, it is repeated actions that persevere.

In the sports world, coaching is available to almost everyone but for some reason, despite the innumerable examples of success, this approach never made it to the world of business. In business, it is traditionally only a select few who get access to a great coach.

We have all the evidence we need but the disconnect still persists.

Coaching should be for everyone

Executives and senior leaders appreciate the far-reaching benefits of professional business coaching. Most will employ executive coaches to continuously hone their skills as leaders and figureheads. However, this rarely extends to the workforce. The majority of organizations collectively fail to invest in professional development for employees despite knowing that the boots on the ground are the most valuable asset.

Some companies now offer employees access to a variety of courses in for instance project management and remote work. To a larger and larger extent, these courses are offered online. Internal learning platforms are becoming more and more popular, offering employees access to e-learning courses and training. This is great (at least better than nothing). The issue with courses is the lack of continued learning, feedback, and follow-up. The harsh truth is that without feedback, self-reflection, development, and further training and application of new behavior - in real-life situations - even the most inspiring courses are rarely particularly impactful.

Conversely, the value of having regularly scheduled sessions with a coach is profound. It takes practice and hard work to improve working habits and leadership skills. To truly attain excellence and shine at the next level, we need to challenge ourselves, be challenged, supported, moved, and helped – in the right way.

Coaches are trained to help employees develop and excel – at just the right pace. Professional business coaching happens at the workplace, ensuring that learnings, reflections, and training meet the needs of the individual while also being tailored to empower the leader and employee to meet company goals.

Just as with sports, it takes continuous guidance and practice to improve.

Ready to offer your valued employees coaching?

At Session, we believe that coaching should be available to everyone with the appetite to learn and the aspiration to develop their career prospects in service of your business aims. It should not be exclusive to high-end budgets and it shouldn’t be limited by local proximity. Online coaching makes it possible to offer professional business coaching to more people, at a lower cost from anywhere.

Investing in your team is more than individual development, it fosters a culture of growth that permeates the very fabric of your organization. If each employee is continuously developing, engagement skyrockets allowing your company to be more and more productive.

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Meet the Author

Pernille Brun

Pernille Brun

Professional Business Coach, CEO and Co-Founder, Session

Experienced Strategic Advisor, Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Facilitator, Board Member, and Speaker. Author of four books on organizational life and leadership, including "Strengths-Based Leadership Handbook" and "On the Move - lessons for the Future from Nordic Leaders".

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