The ‘Maverickisation’ of coaching


The ‘Maverickisation’ of Coaching. As we embark on a new decade, we find ourselves plunged into what can only be described as challenging and changing times. All of us need to step up to stay fit for purpose in order to remain relevant in such volatile and turbulent times.

And the practice of coaching is no different.

Today, rather than purely following client agendas, coaches are encouraged to ‘be more maverick’ in the sense that they are now encouraged to view themselves as partnering for co-created journeys of courageous leadership.

In general, coaching has been described as an ongoing developmental dialogue, a co-creative conversational process between coach and coachee. Coaching gives the coachee space for reflection, the possibility of seeing the world through new lenses and the opportunity for deep insights and discoveries.

Increasingly, coaching today is seen as a journey and as a form of dynamic storytelling.

The journey taken by a coach and coachee, just like today’s volatile times, is by no means linear. It is an ever more complex real-time navigation process where neither coach nor coachee have a sense of the destination and, as fellow travellers, are required to circumnavigate relatively unknown territory together.

The ‘Maverickisation’ of Coaching

As regards coaching as a form of storytelling, the increasingly complex nature of this process becomes clear when it is understood that neither the coach nor the coachee are solo storytellers. It is the unfolding interaction of dialogue between coach and coachee which creates the story. There is no pre-determined plot; the plot evolves in the moment.

Yet, this is also the magic of coaching … an ever-evolving plot and storyline which allows fresh insights, linkages and narrative. The chance to rewrite the past. The opportunity to peer into and edge towards new futures.

In many ways, and ever more so in turbulent times, coaching plays an important role, beyond journey and storytelling, in simply providing space. Space for both individuals and business leaders to explore, in a trusted environment, the complex challenges we face and the accompanying fears we drag alongside. Importantly, this space can also be used to uncover purpose, self and unique scope for service and contribution to the world.

Individuals and leaders can step back from the chaos of their day-to-day lives and be supported through coaching to peel back the layers of the raw nature of themselves and their potential in life.

The ‘Maverickisation’ of Coaching?

The most contemporary, and indeed most maverick sense of coaching, is increasingly this realisation that a coach should no longer be a coach purely in service to the client agenda. A technician doggedly pursuing the traditional linear path of a client’s outlined agenda. Instead, we are edging towards a sense of coaching which takes the form of partnership. Partnership that is in service to a mutually shared agenda. Partnership that facilitates exploration in a trusted space. Partnership that in fact accompanies such exploration. Partnership that affords the opportunity to explore risk and the unknown, and to allow the creative possibility of co-created futures and deeper insights.

At the heart of it all, perhaps coaching is about stripping back ancient veneers and outdated stories to reveal the kernel of true identity. Coaching can be transformative when it brings to light the inner core of a client’s being – the mix of values, assumptions, patterns, sense-making and beliefs that form a client’s sense of self – and allow space for reflection and the possibility of change.

The more a coach can help a client to move on from a fixed and immutable identity towards their inner maverick, the more they can accept their identity as fluid, malleable, not fixed and, indeed, the unknown.

The ability to flex and pivot with grace and agility, to appreciate your maverick qualities and to possess a sense of fluidity can only be to your advantage in these tempestuous, unpredictable times.

The January-February 2020 edition of the Harvard Business Review, has an article on the requirements of contemporary leadership – ‘The elements of good judgement’ by Sir Andrew Likierman – which urges today’s business leaders to heed the following:

Active listening, including picking up on what’s not said and interpreting body language, is a valuable skill to be honed, and plenty of advice exists. Beware of your own filters and of defensiveness or aggression that may discourage alternative arguments. If you get bored and impatient when listening, ask questions and check conclusions .. Look for gaps and discrepancies …’

Sir Andrew Likierman

Clearly, the more developed your leadership persona, the more honed your inner maverick and emotional intelligence, and the more reflective you are as regards a balanced and impartial sense of self, the greater your skills as a leader for 2020 and beyond. This is where truly evolved coaching can play an important role as we pivot forwards into the complexities of our mutually shared unknown futures in the coming decade.