The Future of Coaching: Change Agent

by Patricia A. Lee, ACC for Coaching Out of the Box®
The Future of Coaching: Change Agent

As the coaching community begins to embrace diversity in coaching, it will need to embrace its role as a change agent as well.  “Coaching is not seen as neutral; it either supports the status quo or creates critical awareness necessary to change it”, states Charmaine Roche and Jonathan Passmore in their recent article Racial Justice, Equity and Belonging in Coaching.

In coaching, our opportunity to change the status quo is by identifying and exploring the dimensions of difference within your client.  Whether these are dimensions of diversity or cultural differences, this discussion gives deeper and greater context to the client's lived experiences.  In this way, the client can determine whether those differences may or may not have an impact or meaning in the context of their future life.  This is embracing diversity in coaching.

For the coach, we need to go beyond cultivating trust and safety.  As coaches, we must bring the appropriate language and techniques to identify, deconstruct and ultimately understand the whole client within their framework of differences, which may include their identity, environment, culture, values, and beliefs.  By applying this coach approach, we can see the client as the whole person versus remaining neutral.

One approach is to be S.H.U.R.® The client wants their WHOLE-SELF to be Seen for everything they are.  be Heard, not just listened to. be Understood and be Respected.  This means the coach needs to build safe spaces while having a positive intent.  Remain curious about the client and ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of who their client is, really.  Be courageous by asking the different, and more difficult questions.  And, address their fear of being different, so the client can remove their fear as well.

Today, every coach should be aware of and be thinking through the lenses of diversity while coaching.  While receiving their clients’ information and perspectives through their clients’ lenses of diversity, it is important to remember that you too are seeing your clients through your own lenses of difference and bias.  This requires every coach to acquire a deep understanding of the dimensions of diversity and cultural differences.

We serve our clients through ourselves; hence, understanding ourselves, our differences, and our biases is key to unlocking our ability to be present and create a safe space for our clients. If we continue our education, maintain an open stance, and embrace diversity, we become more powerful coaches and have a greater – deeper – impact on our clients.

The coaching journey is not about large leaps of behavioral changes and shifts in thinking.  It’s about small steps to creating a better changing the future.  Enjoy the journey!

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