Many organisations need help adapting to their rapidly changing marketplaces, whether public or private, and the rate of change can be overwhelming. Upgrading organisations to meet current and future challenges is not a simple endeavour. This article details the key skills you need to be an effective Enterprise Coach (EC).
1. Self Mastery
Most ECs come into this role with a passion for change. Whilst this is a great asset to have, it can blind many coaches to the fact that this is not their organisation, and even if it were, many other people with opinions need to be heard. Self-mastery moves us past the “expert” and the “I am right” mindset into the curious transforming mind. It allows us to create the right space for amazing change to emerge without pushing our own agenda.
2. Let go of selling
Do you find yourself asking questions like, “How do I sell my idea to leadership?”, or “How do I get these people to do XYZ?”. If so, then this is the next step for you, to let go of trying to control other people and bending them to your will. Transform your need for control into inspiring people around a vision. It’s the first step to better leadership.
Enterprise Coaching is a leadership role. Stepping into this role means leading the organisation’s development. It is not a passive role. That means you have to be able to lead others in the new sense of the word, that is to say, create the right environment and grow people so that they are able to collaborate with each other, be inspired by the organisation’s mission, and have the right skills to do their job. Doing this successfully requires some professional coaching, mentoring and facilitation skills, which brings us to the fourth skill.
4. Professional coaching, facilitating, and mentoring
One of the fastest ways to gain the self-development skills needed to be an Enterprise Coach is to take a coaching course yourself. You don’t just learn skills — you change the way you think and feel about work and others. Being able to coach others is a key part of being a leader in any modern organisation. As mentioned above, leadership in today’s organisations leans heavily on professional coaching, facilitation, and mentoring skillsets — all oriented toward developing insights and capabilities in others, rather than directing or “having all the answers.”
5. See through your own privilege
The more privilege one has, the harder it can be to see it. For example, if you are a leader who cannot believe that when people say they don’t feel safe to speak up in an organisation they are not telling the truth because the organisation is clearly a safe space to share, then you are suffering from privilege blindness. As Enterprise Coaches we have a huge privilege, power, and responsibility. Be aware of this. Assuming others are like us and face the same struggles we do, is ultimately limiting and creates resentment and failure. Work on embracing your privilege and helping others who do not have it.
6. Organisational structure design
People don’t want to be told how to do their job, especially when they are already experts in their field. Installing a framework or process on top of people and expecting them to retrain, relearn, or find a new job is a very primitive approach to change. It often alienates the very people you are hoping to grow and engage at work. Use systemic coaching and facilitation skills to guide large numbers of staff to create experiments in changing the structure of the organisation, especially to remove dependencies between teams to get value to the customer faster. In addition to design skills, changing structures and processes requires a huge amount of people skills, inclusion, diversity of opinion, and letting go of your own desires.
7. Customer focus
Enterprise coaches need to invite a relentless focus on the customer across the organisation to enable the adaption to the fast-paced environment of the organisation’s market. Helping align the entire organisation around customers — without sacrificing internal integrity — is the primary goal of the Enterprise Coach.
8. Working on the organisation, not in it
Enterprise Coaching is not a delivery role. You can’t do this role under a ‘headcount’ that could be allocated to a delivery person. The budget must be allocated from a central location, with direct reporting to organisational leadership and/or the board. A very clear mandate aligned to organisational strategy must be given to allow an Enterprise Coach to lead the changes required. An Enterprise Coach must also have the ability to hold the perspective of working “on” the organisation as opposed to delivering organisational capability from within.
9. Society and marketplace responsibility
One of the most overlooked (but perhaps the most important, long-term desirable skills) is the ability and inclination to do the right thing. Many companies have failed because they broke the law, created environmental disasters, or behaved irresponsibly. Customers are not putting up with this behaviour anymore. If not a motivating Enterprise Coach and Leader to invite alignment of the organisation to the needs of society and our planet, then who?
Simon Powers is the CEO and founder of Adventures with Agile. He has over 20 years’ experience helping very large organisations to thrive in the market and to be better places to work. His approach led him to create our transformative ICAgile Certified Enterprise Agile Coaching training courses, which run worldwide and online. Simon is one of the first ICE-EC experts in the world.