As a general principle, people, teams and organisations are most inspired, engaged and effective when people work together to achieve change. We see this principle at work when God engages with humanity – and His people engage well with each other – to fulfil God’s Kingdom purposes.
Coaching is one such way of working together well. It can be regarded as cultural when it represents a common way of seeing and doing things. It is based on a belief that people hold insights, gifts and talents that can be released with the right kind of attitudes, relationships, support and challenge.
Coaching entails a particular type of relationship that is sometimes described as ‘coactive’. Co- implies working with; -Active implies achieving something. Collaborative questions in a coaching relationship include, therefore: ‘What are we here to do/achieve?’ and ‘How shall we do this?’
This calls for a special kind of leadership and participation. At its heart, it involves leaders acting as facilitators of other people’s learning, growth and resourcefulness. It also involves everyone being willing to take personal-professional responsibility for their work and to engage in reflective practice.
A core condition for a coaching culture – and a key outcome where it is successful – is trust. This includes trust that God’s Spirit is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, that God has endowed everyone with gifts and talents and that, given the right conditions, people can achieve great things.
It involves trust that people will have, at times, important insights and abilities that lay outside the knowledge and experience of their leaders/peers and that could prove incredibly valuable. It’s about tapping into the God-given potential of people, teams and organisation and enabling it to flourish.
In a coaching culture, people are recruited and affirmed for a spirit of curiosity and a passion for learning. This implies an attitude of humility, feeling comfortable with not-knowing, being active in challenging and inviting challenge, being confident to innovate and to take constructive risks.
It means that conversations between people and between teams will be characterised by healthy relationships: love, grace and truth; a clarity of purpose; posing questions; surfacing assumptions; testing paradigms; using creative-inclusive methods; seeking God’s perspective, heart and will.
To create a coaching culture, we need to develop coactive mindsets and behaviours as well as coaching skills and techniques. It means embracing a commitment to model a coaching spirit in relationships, meetings and communications as well as in practising coaching itself to do it well.
It involves reflecting and reinforcing a coaching ethos in e.g. recruitment and selection, induction and orientation, goal setting, personal development, team working, performance review, talent management, reward and recognition. This helps ensure organisational integrity and sustainability.