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How to create a culture of coaching

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Leveraging on corporate coaching skills can help develop leaders’ effectiveness through times of change, says Prof Sattar Bawany.

Today’s knowledge economy has placed many managers in the position of providing leadership to employees who have more expertise in key business processes than they (the managers) do.

As such, managers need to let go of the traditional practice of trying to have all the answers — and move to a position of enabling learning and creating knowledge within their teams and the organisation.

The current pace of change has resulted in the need for constant learning on the job. Today, everyone needs to be learning constantly, and managers need to facilitate learning on the job.

Coaching, with its origin from sports, was introduced to the management field in the 1950s. In published literature, coaching in management can be classified into two forms: executive coaching and managerial coaching.

Both types of coaching have traditionally been regarded as a way to correct poor performance and to link individual effectiveness with organisational performance.

According to the Centre for Executive Education, managerial coaching is about developing and maximising an employee’s potential which will positively impact the organisation’s performance.

It is about more inquiry (ask) and less advocacy (tell) – helping the individual to learn rather than teaching. It seeks to achieve alignment between the employee, team and organisational goals.

Developing a coaching culture

There is a growing movement among organisations to develop a coaching culture as more companies realise the advantages of such a strategy. Once a luxury strictly for executives, coaching is now being extended to employees at all levels of the organisation for developmental purposes.

Beveloping a coaching culture needs the disciplines of building a shared vision, learning and a desire for personal mastery to realise its potential. Building a shared vision fosters commitment to the long-term. Openness is required by all to unearth shortcomings in present ways.

Team learning develops the skills of groups of people to look for the larger picture that lies beyond individual perspectives. And personal mastery fosters the personal motivation to continually learn how our actions affect our world.

Coaching is about more inquiry (ask) and less advocacy (tell) – helping the individual to learn rather than teaching.

Leveraging on the GROW coaching model

“I am able to control only that which I am aware of. That which I am unaware of controls me. Awareness empowers me. No two human minds or bodies are the same. How can I tell you how to use yours? Only you can discover how, with awareness.”
– Sir John Whitmore

The GROW Model is one of the most established and successful coaching models. Created by Sir John Whitmore with his colleagues in the 1980s, it is popularised in his bestselling book, Coaching for Performance.

Utilising a deceptively simple framework, the GROW Model provides a powerful tool to highlight, elicit and maximise inner potential through a series of sequential coaching conversations.

The model is an acronym standing for (G)oals, (R)eality, (O)ptions and (W)ill, highlighting the four key steps in the implementation of GROW.

By working through these four stages, the GROW Model raises an individual’s awareness of their own aspirations, a greater understanding of their current situation, the possibilities open to them, and the actions they could take to achieve their personal and professional goals.

By setting specific, measurable and achievable goals, and a realistic time frame for their achievement, the GROW Model successfully promotes confidence and self-motivation, leading to increased productivity and personal satisfaction.

The implementation of the GROW Model, by using carefully structured questions, promotes a deeper awareness, and encourages proactive behaviour, as well as results in practical techniques to accomplish goals and overcome obstacles.

Continuous and progressive coaching skills support provides the structure which helps to unlock an individual’s true potential by increasing confidence, leading to both short- and long-term benefits.

The GROW Model has been seen to yield higher productivity, improved communication, better interpersonal relationships and a better quality working environment.


For years, most organisational pundits have known that it is not how much you know but how well you relate to other people in the organisation that really matters.

Managers need to let go of the traditional practice of trying to have all the answers — and move to a position of enabling learning within their teams.

Effective coaching works with executives and others to develop their effectiveness in working with change. It helps them identify when teamwork is important and to use their skills to foster it.

Implementing and modelling coaching competencies paves the way for decision makers to create higher levels of organisational effectiveness through dialogue, inquiry and positive interactions that create awareness, purpose, competence and well-being among participants.

Coaching is NOT another feel good exercise based in soft skills that has no correlation to the bottom-line.

The author, Professor Sattar Bawany is CEO and C-Suite Executive Coach at the Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global), based in Singapore. He is also the trainer for HR Academy’s “Inspiring and Engaging a Multigenerational Workforce” course, taking place in Malaysia.

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