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How do you coach for “Transformation”


There is significant discussion about “Transformation“, specifically  cultural transformation. I regularly go into  consulting clients, and they ask for the “Cultural Transformation” magic bullet.  I politely remind them that there is no magic bullet. Firstly. I tell them that I can facilitate the transformation, but they have to do it themselves. If they don’t own it, the changes won’t be sustainable.

There are three key elements to transformation, Passion, Behavioural Shift and Process Improvement. I liken these to a 3-legged stool, you break one leg and the stool falls over. The change will not happen unless you have all three elements working in harmony. So if we talk about the first element, Passion, what does it take to get this ? One might assume that if people or persons want some change, the passion is already there. This could be true, but If people have been told by others they must initiate a transformation, then they may not necessarily have the passion for it. However we can improve peoples’ passion through better  understanding, authenticity and coaching their Energy. Leaders with greater energy, will be more powerful and passionate about what they do.

So what about Behavioural Shift. This can also be easily coached, assuming the people want to be coached on it. The great global coaching guru Marshall  C Goldsmith is a master at this. This is amply covered in a number of his books including the most famous one “What got you here, won’t get you there” However clients must want to be coached in this area. Coaching is about “Pull” not “Push”. Clients must desire to be coached and “Pull” the coaching. This is particularly pertinent in the area of behavioural shift. Nobody with inappropriate behaviour wants to be judged.

Finally we need to think about the third leg of the stool . This is about the “Process Improvement”, whether it be a business process or a physical process. We can have all the passion and behavioural shifts in the world, but with out a shift in our processes, we will not transform ourselves or organisations. This is the tangible or visible work, which is sometimes characterised as, or attributed to the processing and logical part of our brain. So, how do we coach for this ? This is where we engage, raise the awareness of the individual or team, and guide them down a path to process improvement. We can guide them in the value of process improvement. This is where coaching and consulting and coaching overlap. I quite often find that my “Lean” approach helps a lot here. However if I am coaching, I do ask for permission to “consult” so as not to devalue the coaching in any way.

If we are able to help clients achieve this, it is a major step forward and involves a lot of work. I also use a lot of metaphors in this process, and use this process to help clients build connections between ideas and concepts. This is extremely powerful because it aids self facilitation, and plants “seeds” within clients. Seed planting is also very powerful because it triggers self reflection.  My most successful clients are capable of building bridges and connections. I liken it to cross or strut bracing in construction. The more connections or braces a bridge has, the stronger and ultimately more sustainable a bridge will be. Conversely the less connections, the more likelihood of failure.  I talked about energy earlier, but not only does improved energy help create passion, but it helps us see links and connections, that otherwise we would not have seen.

If things are working properly, we will have left and right “brains” working in total harmony. Ultimately everything needs to be connected

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