Standing Up for Diversity: Why Coaching Skills Matter
The term “diversity” has become somewhat of a buzzword in the modern workplace, tossed around in company mission statements and HR manuals. And yet, studies reveal particularly slow progress toward a diverse balance of genders, races, cultures, and acquired traits across executive and professional teams globally.
Lots of organizations are simply unsure of how to employ proper inclusion and diversity strategies to produce positive outcomes. Many of the programs being implemented today have a very hands-off, cookie-cutter feel—mostly because no one wants to cross any dangerous boundaries or step on anyone else’s toes.
But inaction is a costly mistake. In fact, the diversity of a work environment directly impacts organizational achievements and business results for the better. Recent Forbes research has revealed that:
- Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time.
- Teams that comprise more inclusive perspectives (in terms of gender, age, geographical location, etc.) make decisions twice as fast with half the meetings.
- Decisions made and executed by diverse teams deliver 60% better results.
All good news. Here’s the problem: Even organizations that recognize the value in diversity don’t understand how to make it a reality. So, what does it take to effect real change? What’s actually needed to stand up and be a voice for others? How can you become a true leader in inclusivity?
Glad you asked.
In the workplace, there’s this significant gap between sexual orientations, political views, races, religions, and of course, generations. What coaching does is help you see your bias (conscious or unconscious)—and not just see it, but know what to do about it (and help others do the same). That tangibility comes in the way you communicate based on your more objective perceptions.
With specialized coaching skills acquired through powerful training, you equip yourself to help people and organizations reach an entirely new level of results. You develop the knowledge and tools to bring real awareness of the varied driving motivations and self-limiting factors that impede diversity and inclusiveness. A skilled coach leads permanent and profound shifts in the way individuals and teams approach their problems, their goals, their world, and those around them.
Still a little fuzzy on what this means? Let’s get clearer.
Gallup published a report on the three key components to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace. These include:
- Employees are treated with respect.
“A culture of inclusiveness is rooted in respect. Employees must be treated with and treat others with civility and decency. Just knowing that respect is a company requirement encourages workers to speak up and share new ideas.”
- Employees are valued for their strengths.
“One Gallup study found that people who had received strengths coaching showed substantially higher improvement in perceived inclusiveness.”
- Leaders do what is right.
“Leaders must intentionally create an environment where employees feel they can safely express themselves and where specific concerns can be raised with transparency and confidence. Perceived bias in hiring, assigning work, evaluating compensation, and making promotions can instantly erase an employee's belief that the company is genuinely committed to diversity.”
Interestingly, there’s an underlying theme that connects all three of these requirements—mindset. Only with a focused approach to understanding and transforming your own and others’ mindset can you foster mutual respect, promote individual and collective strengths, and overcome perceived biases.
Traditional diversity and inclusion training is designed to help you “see” the differences in people’s experiences based on what they look like, how they were raised, and what their culture is. Coach training takes this much further, teaching you what to do with that awareness, which translates to how you show up in the workplace—interacting with others, relating to them, empathizing with them, and communicating effectively.
The truth is we all have a “choice” when it comes to how we think and feel. Sometimes that choice is overshadowed by deeply rooted fears and limiting beliefs (which we aren’t often aware of), but it doesn’t have to be. iPEC’s Core Energy Coaching™ methodology teaches people to dig deeply, honestly, and objectively into their energy and mental programming. By tuning into these elements and focusing on how they impact everyday decisions and interactions, you define a clearer perspective from which to make connections and become a catalyst for culture shifts in the workplace.
Coaching skills can help you positively influence a work environment by:
- Identifying root causes of problems. Whether inclusion issues are coming from management styles, personality conflicts, or poor communication, you’re able to listen to yourself and others more deeply, cutting past unconscious biases to accurately identify what’s going on. By learning to ask empowering questions, you help managers and employees access innate knowledge and develop effective solutions.
Otherwise, you’re just treating a symptom, not a cause. And that’s likely to result in the problem manifesting in other places as well, which is frustrating. When you get to the root of the issue, you can enact sustainable change. Now you’ve opened up space for other dialogue, other objectives, other successes.
- Being more aware and showing up from a place of neutral objectivity. Not only does coach training teach you to be more aware of subtle cues, but it gives you the framework and practice to respond to others from a compassionate, calm place. When individuals can view interactions dispassionately (and not through the filters of personal values, religion, past experiences, and worldviews), communication can become an effective exchange of ideas instead of a series of potential misunderstandings.
At the core, it’s about developing awareness, not just of others, but of self. What you say is colored by your own beliefs. Coaching empowers you to acknowledge those barriers and communicate based on what IS, not what you THINK IS.
- Walking your talk and setting an example for those around you. Coaching is not just about what you do, but also who you become. The training changes who you are at the core of your being. And you, walking through the world in a new way, will impact others. Over time, you’ll notice them echoing your inclusive attitude and effective techniques, rather than keeping interactions bogged down with negativity. Leaders who consistently apply coaching techniques to communicate and problem-solve find that their environments become more harmonious and innovative. They elicit greater trust from employees and make room for diverse perspectives.
Ultimately, it’s not a question of what actions you take, what you want, or where you’re going, but rather who you become along the way. Leadership is really just self-leadership, and the only way to effectively lead is to lead by example. Because, let’s be honest, “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work. You have to become the person you want others to be.
When you start leading by example, you start shifting culture. For positive change to really unfold, you have to win hearts, minds, and then hands. But be encouraged! You hold the power because it only takes ONE person to set that example. When you start showing up differently, the people around you will follow. And the entire culture will shift. It changes the whole functionality of the team, which allows for more empowering conversations and opens the door to talent and ideas that may never have seen the light.
Bottom line? Coaching skills matter so much more than you might think. They’re essential to fostering the kind of culture shift that integrates effective strategies for diversity and inclusion. They’re the key to unlocking greater potential for success—on both an individual and organizational level. They empower you to choose your mindset, and to help others do the same.
Interested in learning more about coach training to become a leader in diversity and inclusion? Request a session with an Admissions Coach to have a conversation about your specific situation and explore how coaching skills can help you make a profound impact on your workplace.