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Coaching for Agility and Innovation

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

According to Innosight’s 2018 Corporate Longevity Forecast, lifespans on the S&P 500 stock index continue to shrink. The average tenure of companies on the index was 33 years in 1964. This was down to 24 years in 2016 and is expected to shrink to a mere 12 years by 2027. This means that at the current rate of churn, about half of today’s companies will be replaced over the next decade. This is just one indicator of the rapid and constant change we can expect to experience, and currently experience, in our lives that significantly impacts our work and culture.

What is your organization doing to keep pace? How prepared are your leaders and employees to navigate effectively through change and be nimble and flexible to support the needs of the organization?

Enter Coaching

Many may think of coaching only as a way to improve performance, but organizations can apply it in a variety of contexts with a variety of people. When leaders coach, they become more agile and flexible themselves through developing new skills, rolling with their coachees as they engage in the process of self-discovery, and encouraging their employees to take action and smart risks to achieve their goals. This can then translate to employees becoming more agile and flexible—not only in their thought processes, but also in their approach to work, capacity for innovation and creativity, and effectiveness in relating to and communicating with each other.


But coaching is intimate work that involves both the head and the heart through connecting with people. If your leaders lack the will or disposition to excel in this type of work, then coaching is not for them. The result of trying to force it will be pain and suffering for all involved, to the detriment of the organization. Consequently, a key to your success is an understanding that not every leader is cut out to be a coach. The capability to relinquish some control by not being directive or authoritarian, the capacity to express empathy and understanding, the ability to listen deeply and comfort with giving constructive, direct feedback are all critical components of being an effective coach.

People come up with myriad reasons why not to do something: lack of time, lack of resources, inertia, resistance to change, shifting priorities, overwhelming demands, and so forth. While often perfectly legitimate, these reasons can lead to not taking any action at all, potentially putting our organizations at risk of lagging behind, stagnating, or becoming irrelevant or uncompetitive in the marketplace. Don’t let this happen to your organization.

Get Started

Now is the time to embrace coaching as a way to light the spark of agility, innovation, and creativity necessary to keep pace and achieve more—today and in the exciting future that awaits. A critical piece of building your coaching culture is ensuring organizational support for coaching. This includes providing coach-the-coach development for leaders.

During the session, “Developing Agile Leaders: Coaching for Rapid Change” at the ATD 2018 International Conference & Exposition, you will learn how to build the agility of leaders through a leaders-as-coaches model, as well as how coaching can support change management efforts.

About the Author

Lisa Downs, M.S. Ed., CPLP is the owner of DevelopmentWise Consulting in Redmond, WA, specializing in leadership coaching and consulting. Focusing on technical (STEM) professionals, she works with individuals and organizations to ensure they have the leadership and team performance solutions they need to be successful. Lisa's worked as a learning professional for EMC2, The Boeing Company, PEMCO Mutual Insurance, T-Mobile USA, and spent 6 years in the accounting industry.

While a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) Board of Directors, Lisa served as the Chair of the National Advisors for Chapters Committee in 2013-2014. She is also a past Chair of the ATD Chapter Recognition Committee and a past President of the ATD Puget Sound Chapter. She is the author of three books in the ASTD Trainer’s WorkShop series: Listening Skills Training, Time Management Training, and Negotiation Skills Training.

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