Corporate coaching for global business
A volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business scenario
VUCA is an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The notion of VUCA was introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the scenario which resulted from the end of the Cold War. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s and it has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply to the global business context, regardless of the industry and the nature of the business.
- Volatility – The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
- Uncertainty – The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
- Complexity – The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
- Ambiguity – The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.
The particular meaning and relevance of VUCA often relates to how people and organizations view the conditions under which they make decisions, plan forward, manage risks, foster change and solve problems.
Global companies struggle to cope with the dynamism that defines the VUCA world and their operational framework reflects it by showing (multi) matrix reporting lines, responding to geographical, process or project drivers. Organization becomes more liquid with multi-cultural teams, geographically dispersed.
Global companies are in the need of fostering empowered performances: the most exposed managers and employees are requested to activate and demonstrate their own potential in a consistent way, with full ownership, out of the comfort zone gained thanks to the past performances. The traditional management methodologies and styles appear limited.
Coaching addresses the new demand coming from the more competitive and complex business context that requires flexible competencies, adaptive behavior and intelligent management for the paradigm shift in the VUCA scenario.
Value of coaching
Whilst the digital transformation completely changes the paradigm, the human factor remains key for managing a fast moving business context and people have to adapt. Developing people and teams is much more than instructing. It is also unlocking the potential.
How inspiring people and teams to maximize their personal and professional potential? Through powerful questioning within an enabling relationship.
What is the effect of a proper question? Asking a question values the individuals and their answers, stimulates the thinking and enforces both awareness and responsibility.
What is the condition for making effective a question as described above? The existence of an enabling relationship between the parties. A positive evidence based relationship, no judgmental, concretely encourages and feeds the creativity and the discovery of hidden resources.
Enabling relationship and questions are at the heart of the coaching culture that works on stimulating and developing awareness, responsibility and self-determination for people and teams. Why are these qualities so business critical?
- Awareness – Being conscious on the context in which a person / team operate and on the internal/external customer expectations.
- Responsibility – Being conscious of the impact of own actions. It is a concrete demonstration of taking care, at large, including business and customers.
- Self-determination – Being conscious of own inner motivation and own potential . It is the real and genuine fuel for actions.
What is the fall out of awareness, responsibility and self-determination? An increased level of flexibility and ownership in the space of business operations, fostering empowered performances.
The demand of flexibility and ownership is dramatically increasing in a VUCA business context. It also facilitates the discovery and the development of inner talents, feeding the human capital of the company in a concrete a pragmatic way. A positive effect is observed on ambience and internal trust within the company.
All the above aspects generate a virtuous circle for effective and sustainable operations, heading to excellence for productivity and customer experience. So coaching appears as a critical business enabler for global companies.
Coach vs. Manager
What is the definition for coach? What are the role and the responsibilities of a manager? Can a manger be a coach?
For the Cambridge Dictionary, coach is someone whose job is to tech people to improve at a sport, skill, or school subject. It is a wide and popular definition that applies in multiple contexts. In this document, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) definition will be used, as reported here below.
- Coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
- ICF Coach: An ICF coach agrees to practice the ICF Core Competencies and pledges accountability to the ICF Code of Ethics.
- Professional Coaching Relationship: A professional coaching relationship exists when coaching includes an agreement (including contracts) that defines the responsibilities of each party.
- Roles in the Coaching Relationship: the ICF defines the client as the person(s) being coached. In order to clarify roles in the coaching relationship it is often necessary to distinguish between the client and the sponsor. In most cases, the client and sponsor are the same person and are therefore jointly referred to as the client.
It is important to remark the difference between coach (general definition) and Coach (ICF). In the following, the term Coach (ICF) is used,
In the business context, the relationship between the Coach and the coachee must be one of partnership in the endeavor, of trust , of safety and of minimal pressure.
Can a manager be a Coach? Yes, under specific conditions. Two among the many:
- Detachment: the scope of coaching is unlock and develop the potential of the coachee, not to work directly on the immediate business goals.
- Willingness, for the manager to act as a Coach and the coachee to choose own manager as a Coach, in full autonomy (self-determination).
It is evident that a potential ambiguity, if not a real conflict of interest, might rise between the roles of manager and Coach. It demands the highest qualities of that manager in terms of empathy and integrity. It is a concrete risk undermining the coaching relationship.
The risk can be mitigated, if not avoided, in case of presence of a Coaches, ICF certified, made available for employees and managers, to be engaged in accordance to defined rules: master service agreement.
The suggested approach delivers the following incremental benefits.
- Developing the personal and professional potential for employees and teams;
- Coaching services made available for a wide audience at marginal cost;
- Coaching culture spread across the company, regardless the organization and the geography.
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