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Let's create a new language of leadership, together!

For the last 30 years the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI) has been offering the gold-standard in coach training and leadership development for individuals and organizations. Now we are creating a new language of leadership. Let's do this together. 

Purpose, Not Perfect


Purpose, Not Perfect: Progress Report on Our Transformational Journey with Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Wholeness

Part of what creates the conditions for transformation is structures for accountability. Almost all coaching modalities train their coaches in these structures. Answering these 5 questions helps drive accountability:

  • What will you do to take steps toward desired change?
  • When will you do it by?
  • Did you do it?
  • What did you learn?
  • What is next?

Without such structures, our intentions can drift, and very little changes. This discipline requires us to build the capacity to face failure, learn from it, integrate it, and keep trying. 

As we make our way on the journey of expanding our capacity around equity, inclusion, diversity, and wholeness (EIDW), we want to be responsible — in a continuous loop of shaping our world and being shaped by our world — and we want to close the gap between our intentions and our impact. How we will do that is by leaning into accountability structures. The hard truth is this journey will not be perfect. While it is the beginning, we are determined that it will lead to progress and real, lasting change.   

The Purpose: Context on How It All Started

From the very beginnings of CTI, our models and frameworks were designed to support a new kind of relationship with self by way of a coaching relationship. Our focus was on bringing more integration and balance between being and doing and on having people create from a place of self-acceptance and self-authority.

Over time, our work expanded to help individuals create from and with others, through the lens of leadership. We were powerfully operating and shaping the interpersonal and intrapersonal landscapes of people’s lives and bringing them into a new paradigm and way of life.

Around 2016, we began to hear from customers that while the work was powerful and transformative, it was harder for people with certain identities and lived experiences to embrace or activate. If we’re being honest, we spent a lot of time resisting that. We later realized that, even as a company that takes a stand for wholeness, we were missing the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until a larger conversation surfaced after the killing of George Floyd in 2020 that we realized accounting for only the interpersonal and intrapersonal realities was not enough — it was only half the reality we were all in.

So, we set out to figure out what our part was in creating more transformation and liberation for more people. What we learned quickly was that our work, that Co-Active itself, is a powerful tool for challenging the status quo and for the kinds of conversations that evolve the human experience towards freedom and fullness. If we wanted to really create a courageous space for everyone to be in that process, we needed to account for and include institutional and systemic realities in our work.

So, we opened ourselves to be shaped by this feedback and set out on our own transformational journey. The first thing we did was get support and help by hiring the Dignitas Agency, a consulting firm whose mission is to change corporate America to be more equitable.

Alignment: How We Created a Shared Commitment to the Work

In 2020, one of the very first things we did was create alignment that this work mattered. Our board of directors and executive team worked with the Dignitas Agency to guide us through training and development, to look at how our own identities and lived experiences informed our leadership, so that we could be aware of and overcome any bias. We also received training to build the capacity for the complexity and courage that comes with leading in this context so that our intentions and impacts are more aligned.

The outcome of that work was a strategic framework for our organization that states our commitment to leading in every moment instead of being reactive and only looking through a compliance lens. This work set the stage for EIDW work being not just a checkbox exercise for us, but a true transformational journey that leads to change in all four lived realities — interpersonal, intrapersonal, institutional, and systemic. 

As we walk this path, we are aware of, and attempting to strike the balance between, doing what we can now and honoring the time it takes for true, lasting transformation to occur. It is also important to acknowledge that alignment is an ongoing process and that we are in an ongoing conversation at all levels to stay in alignment together.

Audit and Action

When we looked at the many things that needed to be addressed for us to have our intentions and commitments translate into our desired impact, we chose to prioritize evaluating the design and delivery of our training.

With the support and expertise of the Dignitas Agency, we conducted an in-depth review of both our coach training and leadership pathways, in partnership with internal design teams that included business leaders, faculty, and customers. The audit process, which involved the review teams going through the entire training track, looked at 4 elements of the curriculum and applied a 5-point rating scale to the experience:

The 4 Curriculum Elements

Curriculum Element



Context refers to foundational belief systems and world views, assumptions, and framing. This includes those specific to CTI and those carried into the CTI context from systemic and institutional socialization. We are particularly focused on bringing awareness to those that have narratives that convey signaling or expectations related to the concentration of power within a dominant culture archetype(s) and/or uphold systemic oppression.


Content refers to specific CTI models, maps, and key messages in the curriculum.


Embodiment refers to the way a faculty member delivers course content and how this embodiment contributes to the most equitable and inclusive experience for course participants. This includes the delivery and debrief of course content, as well as the facilitation of discussions with course participants.


Experiences refers to any interaction within the course where the faculty member (front of room leader) is not engaged that impacts the course participant. This includes the experiences course participants have in exercises, in breakout discussions, and in informal discussions with other course participants.

Experience Ratings



1 = Harm/

The person feels shutdown and behaves in alignment with this feeling

2 = Exclusion/

The person unconsciously and consciously begins to scan for exclusion/harm or threat, and to actively withdraw their engagement

3 = Erasure/Lack of Awareness

The person begins to disengage because there is an active signal that they haven’t been accounted for. The belief starts to form that: “This doesn’t apply to me. It was designed for someone or something else.” The impact is that the person must do emotional, psychological, intellectual, and/or social labor to stay engaged and “retrofit” the experience so it can have utility for them. The buildup of these experiences over time leads to the person shutting down, and assuming a default stance of 2 or 1.

4 = Accounting for

The person feels seen and included, and that there is room for them.  There is a feeling that they have been accounted for and included. This is often unconscious awareness.

5 = Affirmation/Invitation

The person feels “centered.” They feel that the experience was designed with them in mind and that the concepts, interactions, and tools are relevant and easily applied within their lived experience.


Outcome of the Audit

The audit found that the essence of the Co-Active models and frameworks is powerful and translates across identities and lived experience. It found that how we deliver the experiences needs to adjust to include awareness of how lived experience informs leadership behaviors — and that we account for power dynamics and support leaders navigating and including difference.

For the following year, the design teams worked to integrate the feedback into our training journeys. There were three main veins of change: bolster and provide more context, adjust the design of some of the experiences, and provide specific training for our faculty.  

Here’s a summary of CTI’s current state — what we have landed and what is on the horizon:

Course Experiences:

  • We are currently running the integrated changes in our in-person products: the Co-Active Leadership Program and Coach Training.
  • We are completing the course materials for online delivery and are expecting that to go to market in the second half of 2024.

Faculty Training and Development:

  • Prior to the pandemic, we recruited new faculty with the intention of creating more diversity.
  • 99% of our faculty have done an intercultural development inventory assessment and debrief.
  • 66% have received specific training to support in delivering on the new promises of our work, and the rest will receive this training in 2024.
  • Every faculty member is receiving and participating in required ongoing training and support.

Operational Transformation

Our intention is to begin an operational audit in 2025 to align our commitment to policies and practices.

The Nature of Transformation and the Conversation We Are Guiding

We are guiding a conversation around transformation and liberation for everyone everywhere. Co-Active insists that you be more of who you are, and so we need to do our part to create the conditions and influence the system where we can, so everyone can experience freedom and fullness.

The conversation we are pointing is a global one. We know the conversation of marginalization and oppression looks different depending on where you live and work. We will continue to encourage us all to be open to that difference and to learn more about others’ experiences so that we can seek understanding and find new ways forward that include and serve everyone. 

We know this means there will be disorienting moments when the old paradigm slips away and we are not fully in the new one yet. In the place of the “messy middle” — between the two paradigms — we will keep leaning into Co-Active to build our capacity for the complexity inherent in this conversation. The point of this conversation is not to get it right but to make progress together.

We are on a journey together, moving towards a more whole world, with open hearts and raised awareness. We invite you to get curious about what accountability means to you and how we can hold each other accountable and take collective responsibility for the world we are creating.

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Written By

Co-Active Training Institute (CTI)

Since 1992, CTI has been working with coaches and leaders around the world, helping them navigate toward stronger relationships, integral solutions, and creating meaningful impact in the world. The work we do goes beyond training. Through ground-breaking teaching methods and a global network of world-class faculty and partners, the Co-Active difference delivers contextually relevant and experiential learning that ignites transformation and a life-long journey developing the deepest expression of leadership in each human being.

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