Here is one big key to leading transformation

Stacey Ashley Blog

Here is one big key to leading transformation

I’ve been hearing from a lot of leaders lately that they have a big transformation agenda ahead of them, but they’re not sure how to tackle it in a way that’s going to be successful and sustainable. Their people are feeling change fatigue, which let’s be honest, I think everybody is after 2020.

We know that the world has changed, the world of work has changed. There is a lot to do in terms of making sure that our organisations and our teams are relevant, and capable and have a sustainable successful way forward.

I wrote in my latest book, SHOW UP21, about 2020 being the sprint of leadership and 2021 being the beginning of the marathon of leadership as leaders begin the long term systemic transformation that they will lead over the coming years.

In order to lead successful and effective long term transformation, you need your people engaged, and motivated and contributing. It is extremely hard to successfully lead a transformation for a community with a capacity of one, you.

It’s like trying to conduct a symphony without music and no orchestra… the performance will never reach it’s potential.

So how do you engage people?

How do you motivate?

I strongly believe that if you want your change and transformation agenda to be successful, you need the contributions and participation of your community of people. Your tribe.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to achieve this is by inviting your tribe into the conversation. Get access to their insights, to their knowledge, to their wisdom and experience. The people who are in the thick of it in your business are the ones who are going to give you those gems of information that will make all the difference in terms of you managing risk and finding better, more innovative solutions. This is where you have potential to create momentum within your tribe. To have your people change from where they are now, and what they are doing, through a transition, to where you need them to be and how you need them to be operating in the future.

Remember when you create organisational change and transformation, it is not about the organisation changing, it’s about each of the individuals within the organisation making a change that supports the overall transformation agenda.

If you want people to come on the journey with you. To make a change, to be engaged and to participate, then you need to invite them into your conversation.

The 2018 HCI ICF Study found that coaching activities (e.g., one-on-one coaching, team coaching & work group coaching) are rated as the most helpful in achieving the goals of change management initiatives.

This is easy to say, and I’ve had a few conversations with leaders who say something like, “Yeah, I know that. I’m just not sure how to make it happen.”



Here are 3 simple steps to leading your transformation by leveraging a coaching approach and bringing your people with you.



The first thing is that you need to come to an agreement as a transformation program team, or as an executive leadership team, that coaching is an approach that you will leverage and utilise to support your transformation agenda. Ideally, there should be upfront agreement and buy-in to this approach, based on a clear understanding of the impact and difference using a coaching approach creates to the potential success of your transformation.

This is itself a coaching conversation. Leaders need to be present and contribute throughout the change, not simply go along for the ride.

Change Leadership


The second thing is you need to build coaching capability in your organisation. Assuming your leaders know how to coach is risky. Many leaders who believe they are using a coaching approach, are not.  In their study reported in HBR, Julie Milner and Trenton Milner found that ‘when initially asked to coach, many managers instead demonstrated a form of consulting. Essentially, giving advice or a solution.’

Now I know that your transformation is likely already underway. So you may need to build this capability as you go. You start from wherever you are, in terms of your leadership coaching capability, and you develop from there.

Organisational coaching practice

It’s unfair to assume that leaders know how to coach, even those leaders who think they are coaching often are not. So you need to give them the right equipment. And that means teaching them how to coach. Train them, support them, give them opportunity to practise. This is key. Build the capability so leaders have the competence and confidence to have the coaching moments and coaching conversations that you need them to have throughout the life of your transformation. Build leadership capability and confidence.


So step three is you need to have the conversations. Capitalise on your coaching moments. Create opportunities to invite all of your people, in groups and individually, into coaching conversations of change.

The most important messaging and communication during change and transformation comes from two key sources, the head of the organisation and the immediate leader. And that means all immediate leaders throughout your organisation. This means all of your leaders need to be equipped with coaching skills and it needs to be something that is part of their role.

Set the expectation that they will be having coaching conversations with all of their people on an ongoing basis around the transformation agenda. This is about :

  • Establishing an understanding of the change, and awareness.
  • Developing the willingness for people to want to participate in the change.
  • Helping people to build their knowledge so they know how to participate in the change.
  • Developing their ability and capability to participate in the change.
  • Reinforcing all of these things, including rewarding, and recognising, and valuing contributions, efforts, and participation in the change.
Steps to Coaching Change

Three simple steps to getting you in a better position to utilise a coaching approach. To facilitate and optimise your change and transformation, both now and in the future. The work you do now is going to set you up for a more effective, successful future as well.

Which of these steps needs the most attention to set you up for success?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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