For many businesses the worst phase of the Covid-19 crisis may be ending. Lockdown is all but over. The economy is re-opening. Revenues are returning to many who saw them fall off a cliff edge. Now the task is recovery.
It’s beginning to feel like we’re turning a corner – even if the harsh economic realities and the mass redundancies are a daily reminder of the severity of the situation.
It’s a good moment to pause and reflect. What did we learn from the past four months? That was the question I asked one of the world’s leading HR professionals recently as she considered how her business had coped. She told me two things. First, Covid-19 marked the end of “The Superman Leader”. The empathetic, compassionate bosses were by far the most effective in the crisis. Second, she said this proved that a coaching culture had helped her people through the most stressful and challenging period of their working lives.
Few organisations – if any – have a true coaching culture. So, what does one look like?
A coaching culture exists when leaders, managers, employees, teams and the entire organisation espouse the importance of coaching each other to maximise performance. In a crisis the coaching culture not only helps complex problem solving but also helps individuals and the organisation cope with the mental stress and strain of what everyone is going through.
The coaching culture needs to be incorporated in the strategy of a business; embraced in the behaviours of the leaders; and prevalent in the mindset of the employees at every level. It’s a movement not a training course!
In the past coaching was often seen as the last resort for dealing with a problem individual, before he or she was fired. Hopefully, we’ve moved on from that. A true coaching culture is firmly bonded to the mission and strategy of the business. It’s one of the key drivers for changing behaviours and guiding a business on its journey from A to B. It is embedded in the infrastructure of the business. That means an executive level sponsorship and oversight; the creation of communities of practice; and the continuing recognition and reward of the success that coaching delivers in maximising performance.
It becomes “part of the way we do things here”.
A true coaching culture doesn’t just involve set piece one to one executive coaching. It’s happening every hour of every day across the business. It involves peer to peer coaching; board members being coached by more junior colleagues; experts being discovered in the unlikeliest places and their talents being shared for the benefit of others. Coaching becomes part of the drum beat of the organisation.
Several leaders I have spoken with saw this way of working develop in front of them in the highly pressurised weeks of Covid-19. Now they want to capture it for everyone’s benefit as they set their sights on recovery and the challenges of the future.