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ATD Blog

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, ACC (Associate Certified Coach), CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance), is the owner of New Aspect Coaching, specializing in career transition and leadership coaching and consulting. She focuses on supporting those looking to transition into leadership roles, figuring out what’s next in their careers, and considering what potential retirement could look like. Lisa's worked as a learning professional for EMC² (now Dell Technologies), the Boeing Company, PEMCO Insurance, and T-Mobile and spent six years in the accounting industry prior to going independent in her work in 2015.

An authorized partner of Everything DiSC, Lisa is certified to administer and interpret a variety of targeted assessment tools, including individual and team profiles as well as 360-degree leadership tools. She’s also a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) certified practitioner and a TotalSDI (Strengths Deployment Inventory) certified facilitator. Lisa is a certified physician development coach. She is the author of a series of books aimed at helping learning professionals design and facilitate courses on listening, time management, and negotiating.

Lisa is the immediate past president of the Women Business Owners organization in Seattle, having served as its president in 2018 and membership chair in 2016-2017. She is also a former leadership coach with the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking within the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and a former board member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and designer of its ATD Expert Coach program. Lisa is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. She has a master’s degree in education. Based in Redmond, WA, Lisa works with coaching clients regardless of location.

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