Considering leadership coaching? Ask these 3 questions first

October 11, 2021

Maybe you’ve been promoted (congratulations!) and are feeling a bit lost. Maybe you’re new to a company and want to ace those first 100 days. Or maybe you just feel like you need time away from emails and video calls to focus on what really matters.

Either way, leadership coaching could be for you. As a confidential partnership all about enabling leaders to be at their best, it could be for anyone looking to be a good or better leader.

But what does ‘good’ or ‘better’ mean?

Well, that depends on a lot of things; your personal experience, your career aspirations and your personality. It also depends on something htat is often forgotten; your organisational or team culture. A by-product of an organisation’s history, culture is the sometimes-unspoken norms that dictate how a group organises itself. And if your vision of leadership is out of line with your vision of culture, it’s unlikely either will thrive.

These three questions can help you clarify your vision and kickstart your coaching journey.

1.  What’s your current culture like?

Understanding culture means uncovering shared assumptions, but often these are so ingrained in the group that it’s difficult to root them out. Let’s break it down: 

What can you see, hear, and feel?

The structures, stories and rituals that are easy to observe but not always easy to understand. Imagine you’re new and make a list of everything that you notice is going on.

Why does the group do what they do?

The rationalisation for action, inaction and goals. Consider shared values and beliefs.

What is being taken for granted?

The basic assumptions that dictate what the group focuses on and how they make sense of things. Check whether the rationalisations actually explain what’s happening. Where there seems to be a gap, you've probably uncovered an assumption.

2.  What’s your ideal culture like?

Culture types

Company culture defines how people are at work, how they behave towards each other and what is celebrated. Depending on how flexible you want to be as an organisation, and where you want to focus your efforts (internally or externally), you’ll be aiming for one of four culture types:

· Community: a family feel where customers are partners.

· Innovation: a creative environment that encourages risk taking.

· Structure: hierarchical structures focus on reducing costs.

· Results: a challenging, competitive vibe where success equals winning.

3. How do you want to be as a leader?

Now you know what your culture is like right now and what (if anything) you need or want to change, it’s time to think about what that means for you. Each culture type places different demands on a leader:

-      Community cultures need facilitators who help teams collaborate and develop others.

-      Innovation cultures need visionaries that encourage teams to create and improve.

-      Structure cultures need coordinators to control the system.

-      Results cultures need motivators to inspire extra effort so they can compete in the marketplace.

Knowing what you’re aiming for is the first step of change. Leadership coaching helps you understand your impact on others, your strengths, and your current gaps. By offering you a safe space to discover and practice new behaviours, it enables you to be the leader you want and need to be. Get in touch if you'd like support thinking about how to align your vision of leadership and culture with what's happening right now.

References
Schein, E. H. (2017). Organizational culture and leadership (5th edition). Wiley.
Cameron, K. S. (2011). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture: based on the competing values framework. Jossey-Bass.Taylor, S. N.,
Passarelli, A. M., & Van Oosten, E. B. (2019). Leadership coach effectiveness as fostering self-determined, sustained change. Leadership Quarterly, 30(6), 101313.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2019.101313

Come and say hi! You can connect with me on Instagram (Rachel @ Rachel Lee Coaching) and LinkedIn too.