7 Reasons why coaching is an essential ally for adaptive leadership in a perma-crisis world

The word ‘unpreceded’ has probably been used more in the last few years than in the last decades. Listen to the news and it is a term used every day. With business now it has been impossible to predict the future and the world is more VUCA than ever (volatile, uncertain, ambiguous and volatile). It is times such as these where adaptive leadership is required to navigate the business environment, lead with empathy and create wins from self-reflection and self-correction (I would argue self-rescue!) Adopting the coaching perspective and working with a coach feels a vital companion in our current leadership challenge. There are a number of reasons why coaching is now required more than ever before.

  1. Coaching will help rediscover purpose

Concepts of self-purpose and the very nature of self will be under re-examination post COVID and within an extended cost of living crisis, environmental collapse and business environment uncertainty and rising global conflict.  This external landscape is understandably creating a real existential crisis for some people and coaching will help anchor and reconnect to our true purpose. Clarity in a world of ambiguity will be a powerful ally.

Key coaching questions:

How do you feel your key purpose might be affected by the external world changing ? In a new world if you could do anything without a chance of failure what would that be?

Adopting a ‘back to how it was’ strategy is probably the only guarantee of failure. It continues to surprise me the frankly naive perspective often expressed by people in boardrooms of ‘after X <insert name of crisis> everything will go back to normal’. It is a ridiculous and dangerous position to take. We are now in perma=crisis and this needs a hugely different response.  We’ll need to re-imagine a new future and coaches have the tools to support clients to elicit new solutions, bring forward innovation and challenge existing ways of thinking that may no longer be useful in the ‘new new world’.

 Key coaching questions:

Which parts of how the business operated in the past would you most like to keep? Which elements are calling out to now be dropped?

Forget about business. Modern high quality coaching must support a personal recovery as well as a business one; allowing space for acceptance, reflection and refocus. It is my proposition that business leaders who are the quickest to recover self after a crisis will be the first to rebuild business. Many clients I work with are experiencing lost confidence. Moving into the next period with a well-coached and cultivated mind-set provides a competitive advantage and security of confidence.

Key coaching questions: What is exciting you most about the changes ahead? What three things could you do in the next week to get ready to travel head-on into your current challenge?

One of the key tenants of coaching practice is to be deeply rooted to values and helping the coachee be the same. In times of uncertainty there is a need to be authentic. Values led strategy will be something that employees and teams can rapid connect to; creating alignment and ensuring faster progress. This does not mean playing a corporate game and forcing into the values written on the wall or where sometimes senior executives speak of values but are unclear what their own personal values are and what this really means.

Key coaching question:

What are the three values that you hold most important to you? How will you communicate these in your leadership? Where might your values be at odds with the organisation? Are people around you speaking of values but acting differently?

Challenging the coachee to understand their reality is a pillar of good coaching work. Getting the most accurate picture and investing time testing what is really going on with a coach will enable a coachee to yield bountiful results and provide a platform to develop personally and in business. In a world of perma-crisis ‘wicked’ problems won’t just stop. Coaching will help to identify the next emerging risks but more so focus on generating a resilience, so that the coachee can be proactive with the next adaptive challenge.

Key coaching question:

How will your new leadership landscape be different than it is now? Apart from get a coach, how might you discover and challenge your new reality? Who can help you? Is your team ready?

In times of crisis frailty of leadership is quickly revealed. Trust can quickly become low. The binary choice facing leaders right now, especially in the settling working from home culture, will be to be high trust or high surveillance. Coaching can create stronger empathy for others through listening and reflection which will lead to a high trust- winning culture. Let’s face facts not all your current team are likely to have the confidence, the capability and the capacity to work independently. Sadly, even at the highest levels some people, often those over promoted, need far more maintenance. Challenge yourself to think what the team needs to look like in a looser and less strict structure.

Key coaching question:

If you could change one thing in your business to demonstrate you trusted your teams what would it be? Name one action to rapidly increase trust? What else? Are all your team have the capacity and capability to work more independently?

The psychological legacy, in terms of being under stress for long periods and effects of isolation, will reveal themselves over coming months and years. Working with a coach will support cognitive dissonance and provides a safe space to explore key psychological perspectives of rapid change. Coaching wellbeing is something that many clients wish to spend more time on to help avoidance of ‘burn out’.

Key coaching question: What does your personal self-care package look like? What can you do today (right now) to help manage your stress levels? What can you do next week?

This is an ideal time for reflection and deep learning about self, our businesses and how we lead. Working with a coach is an approach that can fast track and supersize the learning, provide challenge and the support we all need. So….what’s your next step?

Stuart Rimmer is the Founder at Inner Mountain Coaching www.innermountaincoach.com ,

 Coach in Residence at Open Banking Excellence (https://www.openbankingexcellence.org/) ,

and Visiting Senior Fellow in Leadership at University of Suffolk.