Area of Behavioral
Focus: Structure
“In these challenging times, nonprofit CEOs need a safety
net. A coach becomes the one person with whom they can
test ideas, honestly share their moments of uncertainty, and
then together construct how the CEO will lead forward with
vision and confidence.”
—Cathy Tisdale
Vice President, Council Partnerships
Mission to Market
Girl Scouts of the USA
tructure is the second of the ten components in the Contex-
tual Coaching model and can be defined as a mode of or-
ganizing (in our case, people, places, and resources), an
arrangement of parts, elements, or constituents—or, perhaps most
Talent Systems
Talent Solutions
importantly, a complex system considered from the point of view
of the whole, rather than of any single part. Does that sound like
the organization you work for? While the organization is consid-
ered from the point of view of the whole rather than from the point
of any single individual, the Contextual Coaching model claims
that both the individual and the organization are important; nei-
ther can be fully known without fully knowing the other.
Depending on your coaching client’s level within the organiza-
tion, the strategy of your client’s area of responsibility must roll up
and integrate with larger business units and/or the overarching cor-
porate strategy. This requires enhanced awareness of the inten-
tional design and structure of the organization. It is critical that the
individual coaching process relate to the structure of the organiza-
tion to both illustrate and understand how your coaching client’s
efforts will be blended with (and enhance) the work of others. Just
as the coaching process must be carried out in the context of the
organization, it must also roll down to the strategic concerns of
those who report into the coaching client’s area of the business. In
pursuit of flawless execution, the organizational structure must be
built to support the goals and expectations set forth in its strategic
plan. As the contextual coach, you keep the coaching process fo-
cused on the organization by identifying the position of your
coaching client within the corporate structure and help your client
understand all the intentional and incidental strategies at play. If
you know the reporting relationships, the expectations for your
coaching client and other team members, and how structural
strategies can best be integrated and communicated, you will be
able to provide a powerful service to your coaching client and to
the larger corporate constituencies being served.
When considering the structure of the organization, you should
place emphasis on your coaching clients’ relationship with the ap-
propriate managing executive. Key to your coaching clients’ suc-
cess is the relationship they have with their manager(s)—especially
if that’s you. As a coach or a manager who coaches, there will be
times when you will be your clients’ manager and times when you
will deal with clients who report to other managers.
Regardless of whether you are the manager, your clients’ man-
agers are critical constituents in this process and should be included

Get The Coaching Connection: A Manager’s Guide to Developing Individual Potential in the Context of the Organization now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.