Unprecedented, Uncertain Times – Can Coaching Help?
This guest blog post is by Magdalena Nowicka Mook, CEO of International Coaching Federation.
We are living and leading in times that nothing is predictable, where all assumptions, even those made with lots of research, data and caution, are not making much sense anymore. Some are affected very directly; others may be a little more sheltered. One thing is certain - this pandemic impacts us all and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is a huge humanitarian tragedy and first and foremost it needs to be acknowledged as such. In order to fight and win, all of us need to access the best in ourselves.
There is nothing appealing about the persisting crisis. However, crisis often gives ways of looking at things differently, doing things differently, or as Albert Einstein famously said: “The questions may be the same, but the answers have changed”. Currently all organizations, small and large, for profit and not for profit, public and private, well established and new, are facing a new reality. They naturally go into a crisis mode – securing the assets, making sure the employees are taken care of, reviewing supply chain and making financial projections. They move into scenario-planning. That’s crisis management.
Canadian futurist and “trends-hunter” Jeremy Gutsche suggests that the time of crisis leads to the time of chaos. However, chaos can lead to innovation, opportunities and re-charting. Chaos changes the rules. Chaos can switch who is in the lead. This is where crisis leadership comes into play. Effective crisis leadership can deliver opportunities in places that previously only had disadvantages. Organizations that successfully handle crisis can come out of them stronger and with greater employee, customer, and community loyalty than existed prior to the crisis.
That begs the question – how can those individuals resource themselves to provide leadership, especially in times of crisis. Resilience is something that comes to mind. Clear communication, competence, calm, and empathy are other skills and traits that could be of tremendous help. This is where professional coaching can make a remarkable difference. Coaching is defined by the International Coaching Federation as “a thought-provoking partnership that supports the client is reaching their fullest professional and personal potential”. A coach is a thought partner, an accountability partner, and a catalyst that supports the client in reaching the clarity of their goals and helping them through mapping out the way to achieve them. A coach can work with an individual or with a team and help walk through the natural states of fear and lack of security, towards seeing opportunities and possibilities. In situations like the current, a professional coach is also trained in recognizing if support other than coaching (trauma treatment, counseling, psychology) is needed and could offer such resources through referrals.
With the assistance of a coach, organizational leaders can start preparing for the “new normal”, anticipate what that means, and be ahead in groundwork for it. A coach can challenge assumptions and help re-chart the organizations’ future.
Another important potential outcome of crisis and chaos is learning. It is a unique way for the organization to examine its actions, acknowledge the journey, and decide which behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and actions will be important to bring to the future. It is equally important to consciously determine what can and should be left behind. Professional coaching certainly helps with distilling this learning and making sure it informs the strategy and actions of the organization moving forward.
In times like this, coaching is not a luxury, it is a must. It is an important investment that can help individuals, organizations and large systems not only survive, but thrive.