Somehow, organizations have gotten the incorrect notion that generating a coaching culture necessitates scheduling large numbers of in-depth, one-on-one coaching conversations of some length. This results in an understandable response: “We don’t have time for that!”
As a co-founder of one of the largest coach training organizations in the world, I’m a big fan of one-on-one coaching. That said, it’s not the only — or even the best way — to create a coaching culture. Structures don’t create culture any more than inspiring posters hung on the wall do. Culture is something we generate, not so much by what we do, but by how we be with each other while we are doing it.
We create our culture. Together. Every day.
This is true whether we are talking about an organization, a community, a family, or a nation. The consistent application of a few coaching contexts will go much further toward creating a coaching culture than big structures or lofty initiatives. Here are three things to practice to begin generating a coach-like culture in your company, on your team, or in your home.
1) Deep listening
Listening deeply to another person has become rare. We are so focused on the thousand things running around inside our minds that we completely miss the person right in front of us.
In deep listening, it is important to listen beyond the words, into the heart of the other person, and to hear the deeper truth that is being offered. This can be more challenging than it sounds. Our mind chatter can be loud and demanding, nattering away about all kinds of problems, issues, and concerns.
It takes discipline to shift our attention and focus it on another person. Think of your listening as a spotlight. Practice focusing that spotlight on the other person rather than on your own internal dialog. This sounds pretty basic, but it doesn’t happen all that often.When people experience deep listening, their natural resourcefulness and creativity comes to the fore.
2) Holding people as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole
What if you practiced holding everyone you work with as basically creative, resourceful, and able to solve their own problems and issues? What if you started there? You’d spend a lot less time trying to micromanage or solve the problem, and a lot more time championing and evoking the creativity of others. I know sometimes people do bad or stupid things. I know because I have done bad and stupid things in my time. That doesn’t mean I am a bad person. It just means I’m human. Practice beginning by holding people as creative and resourceful, and see what emerges.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s wonderfully nourishing for human beings. We’re so completely trained to have the answer, to know. But all that knowing doesn’t leave any room for new ideas, nor does it help us connect more deeply. We think we know one another because we’ve been working, living, or parenting with each other for a while, but actually, people are changing all the time.
For a terrific demonstration of curiosity, watch a 3-year-old play with the kitchen measuring spoons. If you get a little curious rather than deciding that you already know everything, people will sense your interest and blossom around you.