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.

One response to “Broken”

  1. Richard.
    As Winston Churchill said “Never let a good crisis go to waste” In my field of Lean based business transformation there is a continuing litany of the high proportion of Change Projects that fail. The problem usually is that business cultures are hard to move. The Nash Equilibrium (as explained by Joseph Paris in his book “State of Readiness”) ensures that corporate remains pervasive and unimpeachable unless an external threat disrupts that equilibrium. Well Covid 19 is the mother of disruptive events. Wise leaders will use this to build coalitions for change, remove the blockers and start to build the sort of empowered learning organisations that will survive and prosper in the difficult times ahead.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: