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Six Institutional Cultures and the Coaching Challenges

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The Managerial Culture

Leadership Values: Economic Viability/ Commitment to one’s team and organization

Criteria of Leadership Success: Quantitative/Bottom Line Success/Expanding Capacity (Size)

Coaching Orientation: Close alignment with latest management theory and practices related to improved institutional performance

Nature of Coaching Clientele: Mid-level and C-Suite Managers

Criteria of Coaching Status: Yearly Revenues/Size of Client’s Organization/Level of Clients in Organization

Nature of Coaching Impact: Client satisfaction (short term) Evidence-based outcomes related to defined organizational goals and objectives (long term)

Coaches and the users of coaching services who are aligned with the managerial culture conceive of coaching as a vehicle for improvement of performance. Coaches and clients with a managerial orientation are much less enamored, compared to those oriented to the professional culture, of “big pictures” and the focus on leadership. Management is where the action is – not so-called “leadership”. Management and managerial coaching are often identified with a specific set of organizational functions and responsibilities. Some authors even go so far as to identify coaching as a specific managerial skill. Many definitions of coaching from the late 1970s to the 2000s were similarly oriented towards the management culture.

What if we tum Susan Stracker into a coach who is oriented towards the managerial culture? For Susan and her colleagues in this culture, coaching is seen as a vehicle for improved managerial performance. Coaches aligned with this culture are often engaged in the planning. implementation and evaluation of a manager’s work – this work being directed toward specified goals and purposes. Susan would love working with a client who has a specific request to make regarding the way Susan can be of assistance: “Help me prepare for this meeting” or “I’m having a particularly difficult time working with my male subordinates. Can you help me?” As a coach oriented toward the managerial culture, Susan is not likely to perceive any important differences between management and leadership. Managers are leaders, as far as Susan and her managerially oriented colleagues are concerned.  In fact, managers are the employees who really make an institution work.

Those who are aligned with this culture—both clients and coaches—tend to value fiscal responsibility and the quantifiable measurement of coaching outcomes (for example, return-on-investment (ROI)). They tend to believe that management (and therefore leadership) skills can be specified and developed through a blend of training and coaching. Coaches who associate with this culture often embrace many untested assumptions about the capacity of an organization’s managers (leaders) to clearly define and measure its goals and objectives. They conceive of the coaching enterprise as the inculcation or reinforcement of specific knowledge, skills and attitudes in the men and women they are coaching, so that they might become successful and responsible managers (leaders).

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