Xenergie's Leadership and Change Blog

Leadership - The Subtle Challenge inherent in ‘Coaching Cultures’

all blacks

by Gerry Ryan MCC MICF - Leadership/Executive Coach

There is considerable investment and effort put into the development of ‘coaching cultures’ within organisations over the past number of years and in as many and varied ways as there are organisations. The level of effectiveness and success of these efforts are equally varied and I want to voice a perspective here from what I experience in my work.

I am an experienced coach and I see every day the really positive and transformative impact coaching can have on people. I see the need for independent coaching resources in organisations, whether these are internal or external. I constantly experience the challenges and problems people in organisations experience which they feel they cannot properly explore and resolve with their direct manager or even with HR.

I also work with and experience the deeply systemic issues and influences that impact on management effectiveness and on people’s perspective of what they can and cannot do. I see the impact of culture, of the unconscious, of structures and systems, of beliefs, values and behaviours, of skills and competencies.

I see the impact of leadership – of good leadership – of mediocre leadership – of poor leadership – and this is at the heart of the issue I want to raise. My hypothesis is that within the attempts to develop coaching cultures there is often a fundamentally flawed avoidance of the responsibility for and challenge of leadership standards within organisations!   

We have as varied a set of standards in leadership as there are leaders/managers. We have a multiplicity of models of leadership styles, we have a profusion of frameworks for leadership competencies and we have investment upon annual investment in attempting to develop leadership competencies, standards and cultures – among them ‘coaching cultures’.

In this context I regularly see responsibility and accountability being given to and accepted by HR for these initiatives and standards. HR do great work, they put in huge effort, they take great initiatives and they create great campaigns, programmes and processes. However, what I see less often is the management line and each individual manager taking specific responsibility and accountability for their own standards of leadership and for those who report to them.

I see the management line typically take acute responsibility and ownership for the business financial and operational standards/metrics, and rightly so! However, when it comes to leadership standards it is often the cry of ‘where’s HR?’ - The subtle avoidance of personal responsibility and the equally damaging acceptance by HR of full responsibility rather than their appropriate part in it.

I appreciate this is not easy territory – all involved are typically well intentioned and the shifts in responsibility are subtle and often unconscious. Those who are more conscious and able to ‘hold the mirror up’ effectively; can increase the impact of their work, however, they also run the risk of falling foul of senior leaders who don’t like what they see in that mirror.

This is not an easy balance to get right – it takes skill, understanding of the systemic nature of organisations, courage and subtlety. If you are up for the challenge or are already making an impact in this area we would love to hear from you.



About the Author

Gerry has a vast experience of in-depth coaching and different approaches to leadership development which has lead him to attain the title of MCC (Master Credentialed Coach), the top level of award accredited by the ICF (International Coach Federation). Contact Gerry and the team at Xenergie - http://www.xenergie.com/connect-with-us/

Registration is also open for Xenergie’s Systemic Team Coaching Advanced Diploma program which will begin in early 2016. This program is directed at people who want to work strategically with organisational change and culture transformation and who have the calling and courage to make a difference, i.e. Internal/external change agents. http://www.xenergie.com/products-page-2/management-training-workshops/deposit-x-perience-systemic-team-coaching-certificate/

Join Gerry for his 3 day Executive Coaching Programme which runs from 2nd – 4th March 2016 designed to help delegates gain a working knowledge and practice of coaching. Ideal for those with some coach training and experience who want to further develop their practice and effectiveness, or it is a great introduction for those who are interested in the theory and practical application of coaching. For more information visit – http://www.xenergie.com/products-page-2/leadership-coaching/introduction-to-executive-coaching/

Please follow and like us:

Sign up for newsletter

Keep up-to-date with Xenergie

Contact us

All enquiries to Xenergie