Research Paper By Samanjit Seely, Leadership Coach, THAILAND
Why change the culture?
The organizational culture is not a visualization, but it significantly impacts the business in the short tram and long term. Organizational culture is like a person’s personality that affects perception, vision, and interpretation from outsiders. Therefore, if an organization can express the personality that matches or aligns its future and its future growth, it is another factor that makes the organization achieve the business goals it has set.
Organizational transformation presents a considerable challenge for senior management, both from a rapidly changing external environment and an internal environment made up of many people in a diverse organization. It has different values and functionality.
Executives and leaders in many organizations try to create change in many ways, but there are obstacles and facing failure. Professor Michael D. Watkins and Janet Spencer  wrote the article “10 reasons why organizational change fails” in imd.org share that if the organization needs to change in fundamental ways, how can you beat the odds to be successful?
The starting point is to understand why most transformation efforts fail. They work with hundreds of senior executives seeking to change their organizations, and they have seen the following ten factors increase the likelihood of failure .
- No clear and compelling case for change
- Lack of senior team alignment
- Abdication of leadership’s responsibility to drive the process
- Insufficient focus on co-creation in design
- Communicating without really engaging
- Inadequate focus on culture change
- Lack of accurate, timely feedback on progress
- Failure to create (and sustain) momentum
- No focused effort to accelerate the transition phase
- Insufficient investment in developing people to succeed
We can see that these factors influence the leaders and managers to interact with their team and their people. Therefore, how the executive or leaders can change and develop themselves to meet the expectation and achieve both their own goal and organizational goal.
What change in leaders will affect the change of people and culture?
Leaders are a critical example of the employee’s behavior, ways of thinking. Therefore, the mindset and learning capability of the leaders are essential. As the mindsets shift and develop, leaders’ thinking, learning, and behaviors will naturally improve because they see and interpret their situations more effectively. The consequence of improving their thinking, learning, and behavior will be enhanced effectiveness and success. The change of leaders will observe and apply to how they communicate and interact with the people around them. To create the change that systematic way to change the organizational culture, we can make it into the system as in the picture below.
The four steps of leadership change that impact the organizational culture
To change the organization’s culture is means changing the way that people think, talk and act differently. The organization can change when the leaders change their mindset and behavior. To move a big mountain, where should we start and how it is going to land in the area that we are wanted. The four steps of leader change could be one of the theories that can help to create the strategy and plan.
1. The leader change of self-awareness and mindset
The most important for the leader is too critical to being a true leader. Developing self-awareness and mindset to understand the motivational drivers can enable the leader to unlock potential in themselves and the team.”Self-awareness is about developing your capacity to sense how you are coming across, to have undistorted visibility into your strengths and weaknesses, and to be able to gauge the emotions you are personally experiencing,” says Harvard Business School Professor Joshua Margolis in the online course Leadership Principles .
2. The change of leader impact the way of thinking and working of the team
The leader’s interaction with the team members and other people around them affects the way of thinking, communication routine, and atmosphere in the workplace directly and indirectly. If the organization wants to create the culture-changing and the leaders change from clear communication about the vision and direction and activities align with the culture that the organization wants to have, most likely that the people and other people who work about that leader will slowly change in the same way and more sustainable because this change creating by people interaction without ordering.
3. The change of leader that impact to team’s performance
The change of behavior will more sustain if that change can create positive results. If the new approach of the leader can encourage the member to improve the way their thinking and communicating with others, the relationship will be improved. Suppose the change of leaders can influence the team members’ better performance or the change recognized by other people. Therefore, the behavior changes will sustain if people change thru their experience and get recognized by people around them.
4. If more than half of the people in the organization change, then we can transform the organizational culture
When the majority of people change, there are tendencies that the minority will change accordingly. Amy Blaschka, who wrote the article “If You Want to Change Your Life, Change Your Environment”  on Forbes, mentioned that “Your environment, which includes your friends, colleagues, location, habits and lifestyle, impacts you far more for better or for worse than you realize. You can’t make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment”. People’s habits and lifestyles influence the environment, routine, values, and how people communicate. To change the culture of an organization, the number of people committed to creating change together is necessary. Once the leasers change, people around them will change, and with many leaders and many groups of people change, that will become a culture.
How does coaching impact the leaders and people around them?
What leadership do direct reports expect of their leaders?
From the studied data of 8,489 direct reports (What Direct Reports Want from Their Leaders)  [Coaching Research Institute: CRI] gathered from the Leadership Assessment Survey period: November 2012 – March 2015. Direct reports were asked to evaluate their direct managers and asked which leadership qualities they expected from their direct managers. Below are the key points.
- Compelling messages
- Directional clarity
- Delivering on tasks
- Change resilience
- Interpersonal communication
- Promoting the development of others
So, among these leadership qualities, how can the leaders demonstrate and direct reports were satisfied with?
How can coaching help leaders to develop?
The key points above show that the leader that will meet the direct report expectation related to the communication and the interaction that leaders interact with direct report and other members in daily work. To help the leaders develop and improve communication and change in behavior, the coach will focus and help leaders be more provoked in 3 aspects.
1. Coaching toward the way of thinking
The coach can help the leader realize the current thinking and future that they want to be by asking the questions about the larger context and helping him explore what outcomes he wants to achieve in the future a. The coach can also give observation and feedback to the leader on what area and way of thinking in a more connected and systemic way. The leader needs to explore the current thinking related to his situation and the new way of thinking and mindset that will help him achieve the outcome that he wants to see in the future. With the coach’s help, they can select which way and area they want to focus on, what collaboration or teamwork they want to create. The coach will support the leader to know their perspective, way of thinking and realize how the leaders receive their world to partner with what they want to change to achieve the goal.
2. Coaching toward the way leader’s communication
The organization’s behaviors and routine relate to how leaders and direct superiors communicate daily with each other. If the communication does not change, the routine stays the same, and the organization will also remain the same. The coach can help leaders realize and find the missing points between the way they communicate and the goal they want to achieve. The members’ capabilities in the organization reflect how leaders communicate and convey the message to others. If the leaders can motivate members to have more ownership, be brave enough to think and do things out of their comfort zone or create a sense of security, members can share opinions or bad news. The coach can ask exploratory questions and listen with care and concern. This will help leaders understand themselves and select the way they communicate and focus point when communicating with other people around them to be motivated, compelling messages, and clear direction.
3. Coaching to realize the current and the new action and behavior
The coach can help lead to use the tools or assessment to understand his current behavior by use assessments or feedback (360 or other leadership assessments) to explore the results reflecting the current behavior and way of interaction with others. Alternatively, without the tools, the coach can use questions to invite, explore, and define his success in the past and challenge the leaders to change questions, feedback or request. The change of leaders, also based on trust that the coach and leaders have with each other.
True Leaders Don’t Create Followers. They Create More Leaders. ~ Tom Peters
In this new VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) leaders cannot be expected to know everything and have all the answers to all the questions anymore. At this time, the organization will have to create people who can create more leads, Because the leaders are the person that can think of themselves, able to think with other to create a better decision and create a better system in the organization in the future. To create more leaders, coaching is a tool to support the leaders to start to change from themselves and influence other people.
Having a coach means having a thinking partner that walks along with the leaders and executives to connect the organization’s purpose to their purpose. Not just physically, but socially and mentally. The coach can support the leaders in exploring their dream toward the action and communication they have with other people around them. The questions from the coach are not questions that the leader can think about only once and be done with, but questions that they can continue to think and ask other people around them daily.
Coaching is an excellent tool to close the gap between the ideal image and the leader’s way of thinking, communication, and how leaders interact with other people. It creates change in the behavior of people. Once the leaders can stop and select the better way that will create more impact than routine in the team, and the organization will start to change in the direction they wish to see.
No matter what level of the leadership hierarchy you are. We are facing today’s global society and corporations’ challenges. It is clear that “thinking alone” is no longer effective.
Everywhere we go, people want to think together and are keen to develop the ability to”think together.
Professor Michael D. Watkins and Janet Spencer; research by IMD (2020)
Michael D. Watkins; IMD Research and knowledge (2020)
Joshua Margolis; Harvard Business School (2020); online course Leadership Principles
Coaching Research Institute; CRI (2012-2015). What Direct Reports Want from Their Leaders. https://cri.coacha.com/en/research/vol04/
Isaacs, W., Dialogue, collective thinking, and. organizational learning, Organizational Dynamics (ORD). ISSN: 0090-2616. Vol: 22 Iss: 2 Date: Autumn 1993 p: 24-39.