Resources: Blog Post

February 18, 2016

Transformative Coaching

Ian's Morning Musing image

A 2012 study undertaken by the International Coach Federation (ICF), estimated that about 14,060 coaches in North America earned some $707 million in annual revenue.

There is little doubt that the coaching industry has continued to grow over the past four years and its value recognized in many large organizations. Smaller organizations more often use consultants who provide advice, whereas coaches work on the coachee himself/herself, at the same time as they work through the challenging issues to be confronted.

I make the distinction because I was interested in learning how Justin Trudeau positioned himself to be elected as Prime Minister. It would seem, Gerald Butts is one of perhaps five people with whom Trudeau consults. Butts is a principal adviser and very influential; he is given credit for shaping and branding the vast majority of policy that Trudeau presented during the election campaign. Not surprisingly perhaps, Butts’ very close relationship with Trudeau dates back to their university days at McGill.

John Ivison, political columnist, has said, “the definition of a political adviser is to have the tenacity of a water buffalo and a passion for anonymity.” Tom Pitfield, another of Trudeau’s inner circle, said this of Butts – “Gerry is an idealistic guy. He’s a believer that government is a source for change. Canadians are logical human beings, and he believes that if you suggest real improvements that can change people’s lives, people will vote for you.”

I think this is the mantra of many idealistic CHROs that I know. We believe that organizations can be more than just machines to make money. They can be engines to make the world a better place and, at the same time, enrich the lives of people working for them. Leaders who can provide that link, between vision and mission, will drive superior performance over the long haul because, in the context of management theories, they treat employees as adults, and believe in their desire to contribute to the best of their ability.

I love what Pater Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team once said: “each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” As a CHRO, I have little doubt that a huge part of the role today is to be a psychologist and a coach, and in turn, find ways to ignite the passion within people.

I personally very much like Thomas Crane’s definition of transformational coaching: “the art of assisting people enhance their effectiveness, in a way they feel helped.” As Crane would posit ,”help is only help if it’s perceived as help.” I am therefore looking forward to listening to the Rogers Communications case study at the next SCNetwork meeting, to be held at the National Club on the 24th.

Rogers Communications must understand the nuances because they are teaching managers to distinguish between coaching, teaching, directing and performance management conversations. While evidence suggests Butts directed the election campaign much like a consultant would, there can be little doubt that Trudeau grew in stature and self-belief on the campaign trail.

Perhaps Trudeau was powered by a quote credited to Bob Nelson who said, “you get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” From an HR standpoint, helping people maximize on their talents and energizing them to contribute to an organization/ community more meaningfully, is surely one of the greatest gifts we can give anyone.


About the Author

Ian Hendry headshopt

Ian Hendry is the president of the Strategic Capability Network. In his Morning Musings, he provides insight on issues facing today’s business leaders and looks at subject matter related to upcoming SCNetwork events. He is also VP HR & Administration at Interac Association.


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