Leadership coaching is a well-known phenomenon at the highest echelons of business. No longer seen as “remedial help,” the real value of business coaching is regarded as an investment that pays off in terms of more effective, engaged leadership. Wouldn’t it be great if we had the luxury of providing a coach for every employee? But just as the successful baseball team has general coaches as well as one or two specialty coaches, a successful business can thrive with a general coaching culture, plus dedicated coaching where it is needed.

Coaching Culture

In organizations with a coaching culture, it’s easier for everyone to get into their most creative, productive “zone.”

The coaching culture in business is simply an organizational environment where employees feel supported in learning and applying their skills and becoming greater assets to the organization. It includes proper training, feedback, and communication of opportunities, and when done right, it produces an energized, engaged workforce.

Benefits to Individuals and the Organization

No one questions the importance of a strong, positive organizational culture. A coaching culture is an aspect of that. A coaching culture helps people at all levels improve employee engagement, empowers people to excel at their tasks, emphasizes the importance of personal and professional development, rewards creativity, and helps people take pride in their responsibilities.

When top leadership only focuses on profit and loss statements, they may think they’re looking at “the big picture,” but in fact they’re missing quite a bit. Employees must often make quick decisions based on changing conditions, and to do this effectively, they must be empowered and motivated. You don’t do that by putting them through a dry training initiative and turning them loose, but by training and coaching, and helping them learn about themselves, processes, and how to self-correct.

How to Create and Sustain a Coaching Culture

One of the best ways a business can instill a coaching culture is for one or more top leaders to engage a coach (or coaches) for themselves. That way, top leadership can experience for themselves how coaching empowers and takes skills to a higher level.

It’s also important to communicate with employees, both when there are great successes (“How did you do that?”) and failures (“What do you think we should have done differently?”). If there are work teams, then teaching team leaders the value of self-coaching within the team can help. And of course, coaching is most effective when it is working with people who have been properly trained in what their jobs require.

Coaching Culture Helps

Coaching culture helps each member of the organization appreciate their own and others’ skills and contributions.

To keep a coaching culture moving forward, it’s important to periodically evaluate various coaching initiatives and determine what is working, and where there are opportunities to improve.

Coaching Culture and the Contemporary Success Story

Don’t just take my word for it because of my experience in leadership coaching, however. You can find many examples of companies with their own coaching culture that have experienced tremendous success. IKEA, for example, brings its unique corporate culture and management style to every store. They also equip managers with coaching skills that complement that management style. As a result, the company’s KPIs increased by an impressive 5% (whereas 4% is considered significant).

My personal experience coaching the late Steve Jobs was a unique and valuable experience, and you would be hard pressed to find an American corporation with as strong a culture as Apple. Jeff Bezos of Amazon has long touted the benefits of business coaching, and the coaching environment in that organization involves extensive cross-training, employee empowerment, and frequent communication within the workforce.

I’m not only excited by coaching culture because of my experience as a leadership coach. I have seen for myself how the coaching culture transforms organizations for the better. Depending on whose data you use, I’m either the #1 or #2 CEO coach in the world, and I didn’t get that way by spending time with CEOs and then being on my way. I have tried mightily to help each organization I work with see the immense value of coaching, not only at the top, but at every level.


Back to blog