All Schouten & Nelissen websites
11/22/2021 | Competence

A coaching approach to leadership

And how ORSC can help you with that.

A Coaching Approach To Leadership

Imagine having the ability to spark a fire in your team that can light up the entire system. Everyone is pulling in the same direction, working toward a common goal and inspired to take action within their own circle of influence. What does it take to develop such fluency in the language of change?

Are you noticing the signals that a different approach to transformation is needed? Perhaps as your people are asked to function in and across teams, they are requesting support in how to work more powerfully in relationship. The same principles, skills, tools and competencies that professional coaches acquire are also being deeply valued in leaders.

At one time, professional coaching focused only on developing leadership at the individual and executive level. Over the last 20 years, we have begun to place value in shared leadership. Now, leadership coaching is being democratized. Leaders throughout an organizational hierarchy are able to access coaching techniques both individually and through group coaching programs. Many organizations not only have external coaches, but are developing their own internal coach teams.

From managing to leading change

In the last century, organizations relied on a singular, one-directional line of command to manage change. Ideas originated at the top and filtered down through the system. Processes revolved around predictability and order, efficiency of production, planning, organizing, budgeting, measuring and solving. Teams looked to one leader to provide answers.

Flash forward to today’s organizational structure, and you’ll find it very different. Technology and global communications mean that a change in one location can have a ripple effect across the globe. Management consulting techniques which worked within a closed system are no longer effective on their own. Multiple strategies are required to address Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) challenges.

"It is no longer possible for leaders to have in-depth knowledge of all of the nuances within a system, nor can they be everywhere at once."

Expectations about the way employees contribute have also shifted. Think about your own personal growth. Are you more likely to sustain a change when someone provides a list of exactly what you should be doing? Or do you prefer to take ownership in the process and adapt it to suit your needs?

We are recognizing that systems themselves are living, dynamic and ever-changing.

This complex and rapidly evolving environment requires a different approach – one that inspires innovation and collaboration, encourages agility and speed, and emerges collective leadership that itself envisions and inspires, aligns and influences, and engages and emerges.

What does a coaching approach to leadership look like?

  • We move from a chain of command to a network of communication. Creating the flexibility to embrace change depends on sharing leadership across, up and down and throughout an organization.
  • The atmosphere encourages conversation and collaboration. There are less absolutes and more listening. Team members learn to think beyond the traditional management strategies which can dampen initiative and corral creativity.
  • Different responses to change are respected. Some leap into it, others hold the value of what already exists, and still others bridge the gap between what was and what is yet to be.
  • The strengths, experiences and intelligence of each team member are leveraged. We realize that by leaning into the network of relationship between us, we can achieve much more together than we ever could alone.
  • Rather than being surprised by change, we anticipate and even welcome it. Change is inevitable, so we foster the relationship needed to roll with it.

Coaching transformation

This is change leadership. Rather than directing employees, we use a professional coaching approach to develop solutions together. Instead of a linear, top-down management style, the process is organic, stretching out to connect many channels and conduits in a multi-directional exchange of ideas.

Developing individual leadership alone has proven not to be enough to be able to work with today’s systemic and organizational challenges and opportunities. Throughout the course of the pandemic, it has become clearer than ever that our organizations and world are in a constant state of emergence.

"We cannot plan a singular route through emergence, but rather must respond as it occurs moment by moment, with all of our collective intelligence and creativity."

The big opportunity is for organizations to develop agility. Yet while Agile encourages multiple interactions between team players, a road map is needed to create the strong connection which supports teams, teams-of-teams and teaming across functions.

As relationships become the critical factor in an organization’s success, the ability to coach relationship also becomes essential. Leadership coaching builds trust and flexibility in teams, developing the capability and capacity to respond to systemic change – to transform.

Team coaching is taking off

Professional bodies such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) now recognize that team coaching is the fastest growing specialty in the industry. In 2020, the ICF brought together an international panel of subject matter experts to define the Team Coaching Competencies which professional coaches will be required to develop and measure themselves against in an upcoming accreditation.

A transformation is taking place in our organizations:

  • from individual to individual and collective leadership
  • from external to external and internal coaching
  • from individual and group coaching to include team coaching
  • from professional coaches to professional coaches and leaders-as-coach.

Team coaching skillsets like Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC have become a pivotal toolkit for leaders looking to fully embrace change. ORSC has been around for two decades as the first systems coaching program to be accredited by the ICF.

"Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching integrates so neatly into systems thinking that many encountering it for the first time say it feels like coming home."

At the heart of ORSC is Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI). Teams go a step beyond emotional and social intelligence to become aware of the intelligence and character of an entire system. Whether you are working on your relationship with self, or with partnerships, teams and large systems, ORSC develops core, collective and change leadership capability and capacity.

Teams learn to work with the emotional process of change, navigate conflict, leverage diversity, collaborate to innovate, and ultimately – to achieve organizational purpose together.

We are seeing a culture of coaching and collective leadership take hold. Will you be part of the transformation?

About the author

Kerry Woodcock who leads change for a world of change, coaching pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. As Director of Novalda, Kerry develops change leadership capability in organizations and social systems. Kerry is privileged to be CRR Global’s Canadian partner, and works closely with Competence and the other CRR Global’s partners in bringing the magic-making ORSC to the entire world.

Read more on ORSC The ROI of ORSC
Share this blog
9.1 (2.625 reviews)
Official License Partner of