Embedding a Coaching Culture

Paragon Coaching has a proven methodology to embed a coaching culture, whether in small teams, large groups, divisions or organisations.

Excerpt from

"Making coaching work: creating a coaching culture

 By David Clutterbuck, David Megginson

Caplan (2003) has a seven point model on coaching culture:

1.     Everyone in the organisation believes that learning is critical to individual and organizational success.

2.     The leaders of the organisation use a non-directive leadership style, that is, they employ a coaching style with peers and subordinates.

3.     Decision-making is devolved as far as possible to those who are the closest to having to implement their decisions. They are given freedom to take risks and set their own goals.

4.     Managers use a coaching style in the way they manage staff on a day-to-day basis.

5.     Managers view developing others and creating learning environment as one of their major responsibilities.

6.     Peers coach one another to share knowledge, to pass on expertise and to help one another, and also raise their own standards and general standards of professionalism.

7.     Having a mentor or coach is viewed positively, and people are encouraged to seek mentoring or coaching support at various stages in their career and for various reasons.


Hardingham (2004) writes about the characteristics of a coaching culture;

1.     The large number of cross-company teams, whose composition is based on individual interests and passions as much as expertise.

2.     The leadership of those teams: the person with the most energy is the person who leads, irrespective of company position.

3.     The atmosphere of those teams: an atmosphere of openness and respect for and interest in everyone’s views.

4.     A lot of coaching of staff by other members of staff…

5.     A habit of constant goal-setting, about all aspects of the organisation’s life, from individual performance goals to goals of meetings to goals of conversations.

6.     The prevalence of strong relationships with a great deal of mutual recognition and respect.

7.     There are only team bonuses, no individual ones.

8.     A lot of reviews with clients, exploring not just the overall delivery of a piece of work but also individual’s performance.

9.     An interesting and unusual emphasis on teams.


Her second list includes some tips for creating a coaching culture:

1.     Build experience of and belief in coaching among the leaders of the organization.

2.     Capitalise on any experience of and belief in coaching at any influential levels of the organization

3.     Get people talking about how coaching has helped them.

4.     Clarify what a coaching culture actually means; what would people be seeing, saying, doing and feeling that they’re not now?

5.     Take a long hard lool at the organisation’s existing culture. What needz to change for it to be compatible with coaching? Look especially at recruitment, promotion and reward.

6.     Don’t expect to ‘sell’ the idea solely on the basis of general research into the effects of coaching. The link between coaching and doing business is still far from obvious to many people.

7.     Provide evidence that coaching has an impact on performance. Experiment with introducing a lot more coaching into a part of the organization where its effect can be measured.

8.     Demystify coaching; don’t let people think it is the preserve of ‘specialists’.

9.     Acknowledge the difficulties of coaching people you work with. Encourage and help people to develop their skills at handling ‘difficult conversations’.

10. Don’t give up. Even small moves in the direction of a coaching culture can have big benefits.


Whitmore (2002) emphasises the development of a coaching management style by all managers. Guidleines to that effect are that:

1.     Don’t redesign structure too radically or too quickly.

2.     Don’t impose redesign on staff.

3.     First develop staff through coaching to experiment with new behaviours.

4.     Executives as role models.

5.     Staff need the opportunity to choose how to change.

6.     A collective vision is needed, and this start with a vision from the top.



How to Start?

Build groups and communities with leaders at all levels within the organisation as they are wonderful spheres where people can build relationships and exchange ideas and vision. They are important to mobilise a movement within the organisation that creates a coaching culture. 

·      Learning is grounded in the actions of everyday situations

·      Knowledge is acquired situationally

·      Learning results from social processes including ways of thinking, perceiving, problem solving and interacting

·      Learning is not separated from the world of action but exists in robust, complex environments.


A new culture characterised by:

·      Common language

·      Shared background

·      Common purpose

·      Creation of new knowledge

·      Evolution of relationships

·      Vokuntary nature

·      Narration – swapping stories

·      Lack of hierarchy


Communities of practice give


Ø  Awakening – creating a new personal vision through coaching

Ø  Sharing - sharing of wisdom, knowledge and resources

Ø  Continuing – gaining coachee’s commitment to being a coach to someone else.





1.    Coaching is linked to business drivers

1.1.  Integrate coaching into strategy, measures and processes

1.2.  Integrate coaching and high performance

1.3.  Coaching has a core business driver to justify it

1.4.  Coaching becomes the way of doing business


2.    Being a coachee is encouraged and supported

2.1.  Encourage and trigger being a coachee

2.2.  You can challenge your boss to coach

2.3.  Extensive training for both coach and coachee

2.4.  External coaches used to give coaches experience of being coached


3.    Provide coach training

3.1.  Integrate coach training for all

3.2.  Coaches receive feedback on their use of coaching

3.3.  After their training coaches are followed up

3.4.  Coaches are accredited, certified or licensed


4.    Reward and recognize coaching

4.1.  People are rewarded for knowledge sharing

4.2.  Coaching is promoted as an investment in excellence

4.3.  Top teams are coaching role models (who seek and use feedback)

4.4.  Dedicated coaching leader


5.    Systemic perspective

5.1.  Assume people are competent

5.2.  Organic, not process-driven

5.3.  Initiative decentralized

5.4.  Constructive confrontation


6.    The move to coaching is managed

6.1.  Senior group manages the move to coaching

6.2.  Line takes responsibility for coaching culture

6.3.  Integrate coaching and culture change

6.4.  Coaching supports delegation and empowerment