Seven Reasons You Need a Change Coach

As an organizational leader, you’re probably involved in at least two or three major initiatives at a time. You may be the executive sponsor of one, the initiative leader of another and a participant in yet a third. Whatever your roles, you’ll get value from working with a Change Coach.

What, you ask, is a Change Coach, and how are they different from any other coach? Change Coaches are experts in creating lasting change in organizations, promoting individual behavior change, and overcoming the well-documented barriers to successful change. They understand the complexities of your role, and have experience with managing through ambiguity. While all coaches provide a sounding board and a voice of reason, your Change Coach will help you navigate the political complexities unique to managing change and become an effective sponsor or leader of change.

Here are seven benefits you’ll get from working with an experienced Change Coach.

  1. Focus. Working with your coach, you’ll clarify the value you’re delivering to your organization. This focus will help build alignment among both leaders and key stakeholders whose buy-in you’ll need. Focus and alignment address the “why” of your change. Mission critical, as Simon (Sinek) says.
  2. Engagement. Once you know the ‘why’ of the change, you need your team to figure out the “what.” Your coach will elevate your sponsorship, and guide you to the right frame of mind to lead the effort. They may assign you tasks: prioritize stakeholders, craft WIIFMs (‘what’s in it for me’ factors) or tailor engagement efforts to drive enthusiastic action. Such energy is contagious and accelerates change.
  3. Mirror. One of the most valuable roles your coach can play is to be the mirror that lets you see how you’re affecting people in your organization. What are your words and action signaling? Is that your intended message? Successful leaders are real-time role models for change. Your coach can hold you accountable as you decide how to adjust your behavior to be the face of the change, all day every day.
  4. Resiliency. You will get frustrated. You will get angry at what sounds like whining to you (AKA resistance). You will want to say things that cause you to lose ground. Don’t do it. Your Change Coach will encourage self- regulation. This will become an invaluable hallmark of your leadership.
  5. Distance. Your Coach stands outside your system. They bring perspective and a measure of objectivity that expands the choices you see for how to proceed. Important side-benefit: you’ll improve your political savvy (defined as choosing actions that will help you reach results, rather than reacting out of habit).
  6. Anticipation. Two of the gravest challenges to leading a successful change are predicting the barriers you’ll face and anticipating the unintended consequences of your plans. If you can’t foresee them, you can’t avoid them. Your Coach is your partner in spotting these obstacles and overcoming them.
  7. Embracing Resistance. When you’re responsible for implementing a change, it’s easy to hear every concern, objection and even question as resistance. Darn those people – it’s as if their entire purpose is to thwart your efforts to improve things! Whoa, Nellie. Your Change Coach is best positioned to help you understand and empathize with the resistance, then plan how you’ll navigate it. Addressing resistance head-on is key to ensuring adoption.

The world’s top athletes use coaches to help them fine-tune their skills and up their game. Why wouldn’t you follow the same strategy, and build change agility in your organization, one initiative at a time?

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