Coaching and leadership training and development

Have you wondered where you will get the most value with your people and cultural initiatives for yourself, your team, or your organization?  Have you contemplated how to balance the use of your HR or People & Culture budget?  How do you balance the need to develop leaders through leadership training and development, coaching and organizational culture initiatives?  These are interesting questions and not easy to answer because each of these is interconnected.

Leadership training and development on its own may miss the mark.  We hear about people taking robust leadership training and development programs only to shelve them due to busy work lives, discomfort with applying the learning, or because the organizational or team culture will not tolerate it or only a percentage of people saw the benefit of it.

Further, leadership training and development without coaching can fall flat.  Leadership training and development with coaching supports individuals to build the courage to apply and learn from experimental use of the new skills and learning, reflect on the experiments, and move forward based on learning from the reflection on the experiments.  

“A frequently cited research paper by Olivero, Bane & Kopelmann on the impact of coaching in a public services group reported that training alone resulted in a 22.4% improvement in performance. However, when the training was supported by coaching, the improvement in performance rose to 88%. This significant increase in performance can largely be attributed to four activities inherent in formal coaching: … read more here:

Cultural Initiatives

Even so, it is difficult for this to be sustained if the people informing the organizational culture – the collective underlying beliefs and values of its people – are resistant to change.  Team and organizational culture are ever-present; however, being conscious of them and nudging them in the desired direction, through cultural initiatives, can bolster leadership training and development and coaching efforts and amplify or make possible the practice of desired behaviours and values.  

What often happens with cultural efforts is that a team or organizational leadership defines the values, speaks about them, but does not take them to the next steps such as recruiting and hiring for values, modifying processes and procedures to support the practice of the values, modelling by the leaders in the organization the way through their behaviour, and rewarding of the desired behaviours that exemplify the values.  The good news is that this can be developed with specialized support, analysis, planning, accountability to action, and time.

It’s a balancing act

Let’s say there was an organization wanting to shift behaviours from a command-control style where people operate through the lens of compliance and do not feel safe to offer their ideas or thoughts.  This company knows it needs to innovate in order to remain relevant.  If they send team members for related leadership training and development but have not made it possible for those people to demonstrate those new learnings or provided them with coaching support, then the efforts are likely to be suboptimal. 

It takes a lot of courage to try on new skills.  We are all human and have feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability when shifting.  For example, a leader who has previously used a directive style and is now trying a more open, coach-like style may meet with some puzzled looks.  People might wonder “What’s going on?”  It will take time to demonstrate repeated, consistent practice of the new style for people to trust that the leader has actually made a change.  In the meantime, the well-meaning leader may stop trying too soon.  The majority of us need support through coaching and cultural initiatives to continue the application of the learning until it is second nature and accepted as the new way.

The balance is therefore imperative.  Doing one without the others may create positive ROI.  However, leadership training and development, coaching and cultural initiatives together can create an integrated and sustainable path forward, supporting engagement, retention, productivity, creativity, problem solving, and innovation.  Integration can be determined through assessing the culture, looking at what is working well and what people would like to see shift, and then narrowing in on a few keep values to operationalize.  In operationalizing them, the leadership development and coaching can be focused on amplifying the desired values and related behaviours.

This post, from SHRM, highlights the importance to HR Leaders and Leaders of Leaders of a culture first approach:

When you read this article, what comes to mind as you consider where to spend your HR and People & Culture budgets?  There is no either/or here but a good balance of both/and.  Going either/or may diminish the ROI that you’re looking for.  Going both/and is a longer journey and one that will contribute to a more sustainable shift.

Interested in exploring this further?  Book a session with learn more and see how we can support you as the optimal leader you want to be for your and your organizations development and relevance.  You can also contact me.


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