If you’re a coach, or a consultant these are interesting times. Covid has broken most of our toys.
Consultancy, and the majority of coaching, requires a degree of stability. Things we can improve. A bit of leadership here, a smattering of process there, all to improve something that already works. We had a whole load of ready made interventions, and we could provide evidence of ROI to somebody in training or HR who had a budget and we were off to the races.
Not now. All that stuff we learned? Still useful, but only on demand when it fits a part of the challenge. We no longer have solutions, we have tools.
The businesses that are thriving are not doing so because of consultancy or routine coaching. They are thriving because they are trying things and working it out as they go. Agile, without the training course, just trial and error. Not much theory, lots of practice.
The pipeline we used to rely on is down to its last drops,
From Coaches to Players
As consultants and coaches, we can no longer observe from the sidelines.
We have to get on the field and play. We have to use our skills, experience and learning in real environments, experiencing the uncertainty first hand, sharing the risk, and the rewards.
We have much to offer. A key part of our job is to do the reading our clients don’t have time to, examine what’s going on in their system from outside of it and bringing (often unwelcome) things to their attention which otherwise they might be unwittingly blind to. In ‘The Godfather”, Don Vito had two sorts of Consigliere – peacetime, and wartime. Perhaps our job is to be wartime consigliere. (but leave the horses alone)
We have much to learn. It’s a test of our skills of observation, communication, empathy, and determination. We have to synthesise lots of different signals from inside and outside the organisation and present them in a way that can be understood, not from the impressive safety of professional jargon.
A Brand New Game
The upside of all this is that there are huge opportunities if we adjust to a world of not knowing and become explorers, not tourist guides.
We can no longer talk about creativity and innovation, we have to create and innovate.
Become people who help clients make maps, not follow them. Demonstrate first hand the art of servant leadership. Help clients tame the dragons of climate change, inequality and technology to create truly human businesses to be proud of.
Rewards gained from having “skin in the game”. Winning when the client wins from our work, sharing the pain when it doesn’t. Taking responsibility.
Great coaching was never easy, or for the faint hearted.
It just got harder, and much more fun.