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Your Fellowship of the Ring

Updated: May 21, 2020

This is the seventh and penultimate article in our series on Creating Coaching Cultures. This series of articles is primarily focussed at HR and Development professionals wanting to transform the culture of their organisation and are seeing the potential of embedding coaching abilities within their organisation to achieve these goals. In this series, we’ll hear from professionals in the region and learn from their experience, struggles and successes.

In the last article we, talked you through what specific actions you can take to move your coaching culture forwards.  In our interviews, we learned about some of the hurdles that our industry experts have struggled with when implementing a coaching culture, and today we are going to focus on how we overcome these struggles.

Later in this article we will be referring you to our “Coaching Culture Canvas” tool. You can here. Today we’re focussing on the section titled, “Optimise.”

What does the Lord of the Rings movie have to do with Coaching Cultures?

As a huge fan of the LOTR book and movies, I recently started thinking about how Tolkien’s book might relate to undergoing significant change in organisational culture.  The thought that came to mind was that had Frodo been left to complete his quest alone, he probably would have ended up in the fiery pits of Mount Doom, or perhaps in reality he wouldn’t have even made it as far as Mordor.  There were certainly moments when he felt alone, and yet throughout the movie he had a team behind him helping every step of the way, even when he might not have been completely aware that they were there supporting him.

In organisations where there is a goal to build a coaching culture, it came to mind that some of those same internal struggles that Frodo had to overcome to reach Mount Doom might also be there for the people who are responsible for building that capability.  So as we move towards action, how can we continue to stay on track, even when we feel like our destination is out of reach?

Common hurdles

In speaking to HR professionals across the region about building coaching cultures, it certainly felt that there was the most emotional intensity around some of the perceived challenges related to building a coaching culture.

These are the most common barriers to creating a coaching culture that were communicated to us by those who completed our survey:

  • Cost or budget issues

  • Not enough time

  • Lack of understanding of the benefits and value of coaching

  • Lack of willingness to put in the effort to change the culture of the organisation

  • No buy-in at senior management level

  • Coaching been seen as remedial

Overcoming the hurdles

Many of the hurdles mentioned above can be overcome by clearly communicating the value of coaching and yet how we do that is at the very core of what often gets in the way of embedding coaching within organisations.

The advise from those who have overcome these barriers is that speaking the language that senior managers can relate to, in terms of the benefits of coaching and what specifically the organisation can gain from implementing a coaching culture, can help them to gain a clear picture of what coaching is really about and can break down resistance to coaching.

The ideal picture, of course, is one where an organisation is using a variety of modalities of coaching: having a pool of both external and internal accredited coaches alongside managers who are trained in coaching skills and are having coaching conversations with their teams. In this coaching utopia, coaching is seen as an investment with a dedicated budget spend. Coaching is an integral part of the daily life and conversations within the organisation and coaching is provided to people at all levels of the company.

However, this ideal is rarely seen. In our movie analogy, this is Frodo slipping unnoticed into Mordor in Chapter One of the first novel and simply chucking the ring into the fires of Mount Doom with no need for Samwise Gamgee and the other members of the fellowship. In reality, thing often move a lot slower than we hope.

Sometimes it’s about starting where we are.  For some organisations who are not ready for coaching, that might be helping managers to simply start having conversations that build responsiblity and trust in their teams. It could be a few individuals deciding to adopt a coaching approach within their own departments.  Perhaps it’s about bringing external coaches into the organisation to coach senior managers so that they can experience the results of coaching.  As an individual, it could be about undertaking an accredited coach training programme.  Wherever you and your organisation is, the important thing is to just start.

Dr Santhosh Koyadan who works as a Senior Specialist and Advisor Role in Coaching, Leadership and Development in the Oil and Gas industry told us that while building an internal capability is important to the company, long lasting results can be achieved by “using external help initially and then slowly building internal capability step-by-step.”

Who are your supporters?

Whether an organisation is using external providers or there is an internal team of coaches, one thing became clear in our discussions with those who are successfully working towards a coaching culture.  They have a team of people who are responsible for promoting and championing coaching within the workplace. So how can you identify who is in YOUR Fellowship of the Ring and how can you support each other to stay on track?

Your Coaching Cultures Canvas

Go to your Coaching Culture Canvas. In the Optimise section, consider the following questions and note down your thoughts.

  • How will we stay on track?

  • What hurdles will we need to overcome?


The final article of the series will help us reflect on the journey we have taken together and recognise how far we have come.


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