This is the first in a series of posts from Torch coaches about the practical ways they use psychological science and behavior change research to drive impact for individuals, teams and organizations.
If you have any workplace experience, it’s likely you have heard of or engaged in many initiatives, pivots, and strategies around people development. People development is the process of strengthening employee knowledge and skills, empowering everyone to contribute to their highest potential. One of the primary challenges with the ever-evolving field of people development is delivering a consistent, long-lasting impact on individuals and organizations. The People Development Cycle can help.
By tailoring learning approaches to the unique needs and contexts of individuals, the People Development Cycle facilitates transformative, consistent and long-lasting experiences for organizations. For organizational leaders, this means that investing in people development isn’t just a box that gets checked, but a strategy that can deliver real ROI while helping all employees achieve their full potential.
For an applied example, let’s take a look at the experience of my executive coaching client, Jane*. During our first session, I listened to her excitedly share the big vision she had and the long list of all that she wished to accomplish. But as we talked about how she would achieve her goals, she began to hesitate. As a mid-level leader in a large organization with many stakeholders that help conflicting viewpoints, and added ambiguity, she wondered how she could reach her vision without getting stonewalled, losing steam, succumbing to her own self-doubt, and ultimately conforming to the status quo.
To get started, we followed the People Development Cycle to help Jane transform her individual trajectory as a leader, while reimagining and reshaping her organization’s success. Let’s take a look at how we applied it:
Step 1: Reflect on who you are, and how you show up.
Individual leadership development is about the evolutionary and revolutionary journey of the individual. Outer change begins with a shift in inner mindset.
How can we start to shift that inner mindset? Jane’s process started with a series of introspective questions to help her articulate who she is and how she shows up as a leader. As she shared her challenges and opportunities with me in a psychologically safe space, she set the foundation for the next steps in her journey.
This also prepared her to review her 360 assessment, which provided her with feedback on how she shows up as a leader from her manager, skip level manager, cross functional colleagues and direct reports. These perspectives illuminated some hidden strengths as well as potential areas for growth which would expand her leadership prowess.
Step 2: Project your vision, and desired impact.
The beauty of coaching is the uniqueness of every client’s path. While certain challenges and opportunities may be common among clients–the outlook, approach, and environment varies for each individual.
In this stage of our engagement, Jane began to expound on the vision for her career path and how she might positively impact her organization as an extension of her self-discovery. We began a deeper dive into her vision that was free from assumptions and self-imposed limitations.
Although she had innovative ideas, the thought of making mistakes paralyzed her, and she didn’t act to advance her solutions. She also feared that she did not have the experience or the talent to lead a cross functional project with confidence. As she developed awareness around these self-imposed blocks, she began to show up more fully in her leadership capacities. She took steps to build confidence and demonstrate her value in a way that was authentic to her. For example, she committed to introducing at least one new idea with her manager, who then encouraged her to share her concept at their next team meeting. In turn, she provided greater value and revenue potential to her organization with her innovative initiatives and collaborative approach.
Step 3: Plan your path to growth.
Training your mind to see opportunity everywhere even in the midst of challenges is a natural gift as well as a learned skill. With the ever-changing landscape of our world, and workplaces fraught with real and perceived obstacles, this mindset shift is key to success. The coaching metamorphosis includes powerful open-ended questions to help clients reframe roadblocks into stepping stones to different perspectives and growth.
Simple, but effective coaching questions helped Jane succinctly articulate the importance of her innovations, identify strategic partnerships within her organization to align with a mutually beneficial outcome, and co-create a pathway to complete the project with milestones along the way.
Step 4: Act in alignment with your bigger vision.
Building on the momentum of the planning stage, Jane began to put her strategy into action with flexible structure–connecting each step with her bigger vision and the importance of accomplishing the goal. She maintained forward movement while giving herself grace when steps did not always go as planned. She was able to gain buy-in from some of her key stakeholders and ultimately introduced a new service for her organization which added revenue to the bottom line.
Just as importantly, Jane began to be the change she wished to see in her organization. She positioned herself as equal parts thought leader and thought partner by employing what she learned through her self-discovery process in our engagement. She learned how to build confidence in herself through articulating her value to her manager, peers, and senior level leaders one conversation at a time. She realized that the bigger mistake as a leader was not trying something new, as she initially thought, but rather doing nothing. Her new outlook allowed her to show up more authentically, celebrate her wins, and learn valuable lessons from the challenges she transformed into opportunities.
Coaching offers your employees the opportunity to learn, develop, and grow in a psychologically safe space. This growth has a real and measurable impact on your organization.
*All names and likenesses changed to protect the successful.