Building a Coaching Culture: Think Organic

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July 12, 2012

Building a Coaching Culture OrganicWhen we sit down at the dinner table,  we typically don't think of the process of “how” it gets from seed to salad, or from grain to bread.  It’s funny how many think the source of what feeds the world is stamped with “Wal-Mart.”  But living in and around the farming community, it quickly becomes quite clear that there is a whole lot more to it.

  The same is true when building an organization’s coaching culture.

In November 2009, I was invited to lead a denominational effort to establish a coaching culture among pastors and churches in the state of Kansas.  I was intrigued by the idea and its potential, but I also knew that such an effort would include some important and unique steps.  I say “unique” because the request was to develop a CULTURE, not just a program for coaching. 

The fact that I had personally experienced the life-changing dynamics of coaching, coupled with the opportunity to see those dynamics multiplied in the lives of hundreds of church leaders, made it impossible to resist.  I accepted the challenge and I’m happy to report that we have seen an amazing harvest!

In the beginning, however, I knew that the approach and implementation would be key factors in this effort, and would make all the difference in its success or failure. Enter the term: “CULTURE”.  By definition, culture, as we would apply it, is: “Practiced attitudes and behaviors of a particular group” (Origin: From the Latin word cultura ‘growing, cultivation’.   In the late Middle English, the sense was ‘cultivation of the soil’ and in the early 16th Century arose the use of the word to describe the cultivation of the mind and heart.)  Yes!  That’s what we were after.  Capturing the “mind” and “heart” of church leaders with the dynamics of coaching.  But, how?

As the presentation devoloped for the denominational leaders, one designed to lay out the process, I quickly realized that this couldn’t be just another program.  And yet, a planned set of related measures, events, and activities - with a particular long-term aim toward coaching - had to be part of the development.  Just like any good farmer, we would need a schedule telling us when to till (the “soil”), when to sow, what seed to sow, and acquire all the equipment needed to get the job done.  These programmatic steps did not guarantee a coaching culture would emerge, but they were certainly necessary steps in the process.

So, the first step in launching a coaching culture is the program of intentional steps that sets the process in motion.  Next...you have to move beyond the program to a system?  But, how?  More on that next week.

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