Understandably, some organizations would be reluctant to give anyone the freedom and access that a corporate coach requires in order to be effective. No matter how trustworthy and professional the coach is, it’s natural for the CEO and other senior executives to be somewhat nervous about allowing an “outsider” to serve as a “change agent” to the entire leadership team on a continuing, confidential basis.
The Southeast Georgia Health System’s commitment to this team coaching program was evidence of organizational health. Healthy organizations welcome openness and change because they’re focused on achieving excellence. Unhealthy organizations tend to foster secrecy, protectiveness, and fear. Self-assured CEOs give people the freedom to be the best they can be. Executives who lack confidence tend to feel threatened and attempt to control them.
Because coaches are “outsiders” they offer an objective, detached perspective that is extremely valuable to the organization and to the individual being coached. Participants are more willing to open up to someone who is not involved in the organization’s day-to-day operations.
Some people ask us how a coach handles negative gossip if it occurs during private coaching sessions.
For example, what if managers criticize fellow workers or even their superiors? Don’t confidential coaching sessions tempt people to engage in this type of gossip?
Actually, the opposite is true.
At its core, coaching is about encouraging people to take personal responsibility for their lives. If clients attempt to engage in criticism, gossip, or blame-shifting during coaching sessions, we encourage them to take a step back. We ask them questions such as “Are you taking personal responsibility in this situation? Do you think your comments are helpful or hurtful? If the roles were reversed, how would you want this situation to be handled?”
Coaching promotes teamwork and professional excellence by cultivating personal responsibility. When people accept responsibility, gossip and finger-pointing disappear.