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How to Build a Coaching Culture

When an organization institutes or embraces a "coaching culture," what exactly is it creating and committing to? With no existing single definition of a coaching culture, Helen Gormley and Christian van Nieuwerburgh set out not only to create one, but also to identify characteristics that make a coaching culture successful.

The authors put forth the following definition: "A coaching culture exists within an organization when it has embedded a coaching approach as part of its strategic plans in a transparent way. Coaching cultures should motivate individuals and facilitate cooperation, collaboration and connection within the organization and with its external stakeholders."

Organizations implement coaching cultures for many reasons. Coaching research has clearly shown the benefits of coaching, from developing leaders to increasing innovation to increasing overall employee happiness and performance. But how does an organization begin to transform its culture?

For an organization to successfully implement a coaching culture, Gormley and van Nieuwerburgh stated that its leaders need to take time to carefully consider (and research, when necessary) the following questions:

What is the purpose of the coaching and coaching culture?

What are the desired outcomes?

How will the coaching be integrated on a practical level into the company?

How will the impact of the coaching and coaching culture be measured?

Before a coaching culture is introduced, organizations should clarify which structures need to be put into place. For example, how will human resources be involved? Will the organization use internal coaches, who will need to be identified and trained? Or will the company use a combination of external and internal coaches? It's important to acknowledge that creating a successful and sustainable coaching culture takes time.

Lastly, Gormley and van Nieuwerburgh identified the characteristics needed for a coaching culture to be successful:

The coaching should be integral to the organization, and not exist as an adjunct program.

The coaching needs to be supported and promoted by the organization's senior leaders.

Leaders and managers should be role models and participate fully, both by coaching others and getting coached themselves.

As a coach, how have you helped leaders embrace and institute a coaching culture into their company?

From: Developing Coaching Cultures: a Review of the Literature, by, Helen Gormley, Christian van Nieuwerburgh, Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice; 2014, Vol. 7, No. 1.

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