Thinking Big - September 2019 Coaching Report

Thinking BIG

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Thinking BIG
Thinking Big - September 2019 Coaching Report

As we kick into high gear this fall and look forward to our annual gathering of coaches from around the world at the IOC-HMS coaching conference on October 18, I find myself reflecting back on last year’s conference and how impactful it was. One of the highlights for me was moderating for Alexander Caillet and his colleagues at Corentus, as they led an engaging track on team coaching — a hot and growing area.  This provocative session got me thinking about the impact that coaching might have beyond the one-on-one frame that we all generally think about — and raised a fundamental question: can coaching interventions be utilized to support an entire organization undergoing major change? 

Enter Jan Rybeck, MCC, senior coach and Fellow with the IOC who argues eloquently, in the accompanying white paper, that coaching can be a “mission enabler” as organizations move through disruptive change: 

“Personal development is hard. Organizational change is even harder. Both ask individuals and teams to think and act differently than what has led to previous success…What makes coaching uniquely impactful is its emphasis on engaging individuals and teams in creating their own solutions and actions steps. Done well, coaching engages intrinsic motivation, distills change into realistically doable chunks and drives shifts in mindset, one of the most critical factors in changing behavior.”    

In our webinar on October 3rd, we will bring together coaching and change management experts for the first time, as Jan and former lead change management consultant at Booz Allen, Maria Darby, will review recent studies from ICF-HCI, share real-world case studies, and dialogue with our members on this timely and exciting topic.

Research into the connection between coaching and change management is a relatively new frontier — yet some evidence-based studies have been done, including a 2014 study by Anthony Grant on the impact of coaching within a global strategic consulting firm undergoing substantial change. Also, with funding from an IOC Harnisch Grant, Sean O’connor conducted research into the “downstream” or network effects of coaching, concluding that coaching exerts substantial influence on organizational networks beyond the singular coach/coachee container. 

In addition, coaching thought leaders David Clutterbuck and Paul Lawrence have written extensively about the systemic implications — and potential enterprise-wide impact—of coaching. Incorporating the theoretical frame of complex adaptive systems (CAS) and other perspectives on complexity, systemic coaching asks coaches to broaden their lens – and conscious awareness—of their position within the larger environment. In essence, this approach asks us to consider our role as enabler or potential disruptor (!)—of an organization system.  

This theme of large scale system change — and its relationship with coaching — is ripe for further research, so if you are ready to “think big” – you might consider sharing a case study with us in a blog or white paper, detailing your own experience with enterprise-wide impact.  Or perhaps bring us a proposal for future research. 

And in the spirit of thinking big, here are a few questions to ponder:

  • Are you aware of your potential to influence the broader organizational system as you engage in coaching?  How do you take that on?
  • What is your perspective — “insider” or “outsider” (or both)—as you engage with a leader or team?  
  • If your coaching targets issues of adaptability, resilience, wellness and/or engagement, are you broadening the inquiry to include organization culture and change?

Look forward to seeing you in Boston in October!

Warm regards,


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