Understanding how coaching factors into the future of people development can help you lay the groundwork for the workplace culture you hope to create.
All across organizations, and around the world, there’s a consistent demand for one resource: answers. Answers to questions like: how do I get promoted? how do I handle a difficult colleague? how can I grow as a manager? Answers have, for decades, seemed like the most valuable currency to fuel professional growth.
A new report suggests that this paradigm may be changing – that questions are becoming as coveted a resource to catalyze people development. The Future of Coaching study, conducted by RedThread Research and licensed by Torch, explores the ways in which coaching is exploding across industries, and with it the idea of a coaching culture. This is a culture that prizes questions as tools for growth, and one that utilizes inquiry to drive success.
Coaches are trained not to tell you the answer, but to help you locate that answer inside yourself through structured questioning. And indeed, part of learning leadership is learning to discover and chart your own answers to questions.
Some researchers have long appreciated the power of questions as people and leadership development tools. “I have now come to believe, after listening to hundreds of managers discuss difficult decisions of personal and professional responsibility, that the most useful guidance involves asking questions, not giving answers,” Harvard Business School Professor Joseph Badaracco, the author of many books on leadership, has said.
What’s newer is our understanding of another role questions can play – relationship-builders. Indeed, research suggests that asking more questions of others increases our likability, and it can accelerate our ability to form close bonds with each other. And this is another reason why coaching may be so popular at the moment: the report cites ‘connection and engagement’ as one of the most common reasons why leaders are investing in coaching, noting that coaching, at its core, is about building relationships between people. Other goals included using coaching to support personalized development, to navigate organizational change, and to experiment with the developmental impact of offering it to different groups of people.
Johnson, too, thinks coaching resonates right now “because the world is uncertain. We’re all looking for ways to connect with each other and we’re all looking for direction. Coaching helps us do both.”