How to Develop your Organisation’s Coaching Maturity

Nov, 12, 2019

The concept of ‘leader as coach’ has come of age – and it’s been a long time coming. When I co-founded the Stephenson Mansell Group more than twenty years ago, coaching was a remedial activity and a skill that was an add-on to the “real job” of leading through command and control. Those days are over. This month’s Harvard Business Review puts it like this: “No longer can managers simply command and control. Instead, with full institutional support, they need to reinvent themselves as coaches whose job it is to draw energy, creativity, and learning out of the people with whom they work.”

This emergence of coaching as a foundational leadership skill is born out of the need for organisations to navigate the emerging landscape of complexity, disruption and ambiguity. As the vanguards of this change, leaders are expected to lead the charge into this ‘new normal’ with agility and confidence.

There are a number of companies that have developed a world-class coaching culture precisely to address these challenges and lift performance. They include the likes of Google and Microsoft, who have seen enormous benefits in engagement, retention, and innovation.

These are organisations that are at the top of ‘The Coaching Maturity Curve’ as illustrated in the diagram below:

It’s easy to embrace the idea of a World Class coaching culture, but incredibly difficult to do.

In response to this conundrum, we commissioned a research project to investigate what organisations can do to move towards ‘World Class’ on the curve.

Specifically, we looked at what the ‘Strategic’ and ‘World Class’ organisations did to get there. Our study highlighted a number of key differentiators that separated these top performing organisations with everyone else. These include:

  • Coaching is viewed at every level of the organisation as a powerful developmental activity, not a remedial one.
  • At the start of the effort of developing a world class coaching culture, the leadership had a vision for what that coaching culture would look like.
  • Leaders consider coaching to be a core capability rather than a complementary skill.
  • The organisation understands how to implement coaching to enable organisational strategy.
  • Coaching activity is visible across the organisation, and its results tracked and measured.


Virginia Mansell
Virginia Mansell
Founding Partner, SMG
Virginia is an Organisational and Clinical Psychologist and founding Partner of SMG. With 35 years’ experience in the HR and professional development sector, she has been at the forefront of the executive coaching and leadership development profession, including working with many Australian blue-chip companies.


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