&
CHAPTER 1
*
A Coaching Culture
“Executive coaching is the most powerful tool we have to
transform a good leader into a great one, and is one of the
best investments we can make. A leader who doesn’t embrace
coaching is a leader who’s likely reached his or her peak.”
—Mark Effron
VP, Talent Management
Avon Products
I
f you are a manager or executive who is responsible for the per-
formance of others, one of the most critical functions you can per-
form on behalf of your organization is to provide the guidance,
encouragement, and support to bring out the best that your people
have to offer your organization and the customers you serve. Whether
you are an experienced coach in the workplace or a manager who is
in the process of developing or improving this invaluable individual-
Strategy
Culture
Talent Systems
Development
Career
Structure
Communication
Talent Solutions
Dynamics
Competence
and organization-enhancing practice, coaching places you and the in-
dividual recipient (or small group of recipients) at the flashpoint where
individuals and teams come face to face with their real potential.
Although coaching for executives and midlevel people has be-
come increasingly popular, especially over the past twenty years,
we still find it remarkable that many businesspeople have yet to be
directly involved with business coaching, on either side of the equa-
tion. That means there is a huge growth opportunity for those who
can produce the type of tremendous individual and organizational
improvement that coaching is capable of yielding.
The Contextual Coaching model that you will become familiar
with throughout this book is a balanced approach to developing a
well-rounded leadership skill set to establish and maintain reason-
able expectations among individuals, teams, and the leaders who
represent the thinking and strategy of the organization. When ex-
pectations are reasonable, attainable, and worthwhile, people find
it far easier to maintain their own equilibriums and to engage more
consistently in positive and productive behavior.
Not only will this book be extremely helpful to you as a coach,
but it can also help your coaching clients to understand and derive
greater benefit from the process. Coaching is a dance of sorts be-
tween you and those you coach. However, that does not necessar-
ily mean that the coach always leads.
Ginger Rogers, apparently tired of hearing endless accolades
about her perennial dance partner, Fred Astaire, is said to have
pointed out, Anything he does, I do backwards and in high heels.
The coaching engagement is a relationship, primarily between two
people or between a coach and a small group or team. Whereas the
coach often leads, the one being coached is doing anything but
moving backward. What is true for one is true for the other. The
benefits of Contextual Coaching accrue to everyone, regardless of
whether they are dancing forward, backward, to the right, or to the
left. So read on, absorb, and learn, regardless of your role in the
coaching engagement.
Coaching, as an enterprise-wide, organizational initiative,
might have tapped you as a coach-at-large, a mentor, an onboard-
ing specialist, or a career coach or put you in some other advisory
or guidance role. Although you already coach your direct reports
2 THE COACHING CONNECTION

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