In the summer of 2012, we were invited to speak at an Association for Talent Development event. This was a big deal for us. It’s difficult to address peers who know more than you do about a subject and have read all the same books. We were asked to speak about the future of workplace coaching. After all our planning and sharing of ideas, the conclusion we reached was that if we do our job correctly, in the future, building a culture of coaching will be as much a part of our work culture as timekeeping.


The late, great, Stephen Covey, a leader in our field, knew that the path to self-development meant self-development. The best tool for growth is the mirror – a true look at ourselves. Coaching is built around this same principle. A coach provides people who are in ambiguous situations another objective person (or tool) who can assist in getting to the heart of a matter while helping to discover the motivation for change. This makes perfect sense until we try and put it into practice. It’s hard to look within with true self-reflection. It is also hard to find that person who will focus completely on you.


In addition to our world being complex, it’s also competitive. We are designed to compete. Therefore, as we cope with our own career, challenges, and goals, it’s very difficult to support each other with the time and focus that mentoring another person requires.

The other challenge is that many of us don’t know how to be coached. We are careful from whom we take counsel. In many cases, that counsel comes from someone who has the knowledge and experience we admire and respect. However, when it comes to really sharing what we need to work on, we’re reluctant to confess challenges or failures to people we admire or have power over us. But real development starts with complete awareness that we cannot improve if we are not honest.

Culture Shift

As we collaborate with those in the field of organizational development, the solution seems clear. We need to teach everybody how to coach, and we need to truly work to support each other with self-development.

Social Media works best when everyone you know is using it. If it’s just a fraction of your universe using it, it loses impact. You can post pictures and update your status, but if nobody is there to read it, the process loses energy. However, if most people in your circle are using it, it’s productive in keeping us informed and allowing us to support each other.

If your work group is thinking about learning how to coach, then it makes sense to teach everyone. The challenge for all of us is that we will never get 100% participation in anything. However, there must be enough critical mass within your network that will participate to allow the organization to work towards a coaching culture.

Communicating and creating universal buy-in is the key to developing a culture of coaching. Sojourn Partners offers their AllCoach program focused on the entire organization and not just senior leaders. This program can help build the universal buy-in needed to create the coaching culture you need.