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Coaching for Good

Rosie Sweetman, Director of Sweetmans & Partners
October 5, 2020

The movement towards a more socially-conscious and purpose-led world is accelerating as we question an economic system that values GDP above all else. This builds on a growing perception since the financial crisis that business has a role beyond profit and shareholder value. Arguably, the case for purpose led businesses, like B corps, has never been more important!

We’re a small business that’s been operating for 4 years. We became a fully certified B corp in our first year of operating because we wanted our social purpose to have an equal voice in our decision making from early on. This has worked well for us as we’ve grown and evolved but there have been challenges.

And, of course, the biggest challenge is the one we’ve all lived through in recent months.  Like many businesses, the initial shake-up meant we shifted into survival mode. However, as lockdown eased, the summer also presented an opportunity to think about the future and the recovery phase – and our B corp commitment became a useful anchor for our metaphorical ‘ship’ on choppy waters, linking us firmly back to why we exist. It also enabled us to think more about how we operate, what we do and who we serve?

Reflecting on these questions drove us to consider how our services might evolve to respond to the challenges and opportunities we’re collectively facing. As Executive Coaches we often work with clients to consider the voice of stakeholders as a catalyst for a shift in perspective, or to increase our coachees’ awareness and stimulate new options. For the coaching profession the traditional drivers for this conversation have been to serve the client, their team and the organisation, and rightly so. But this pandemic, with the looming climate crisis, has made us, and many other coaches challenge some of our beliefs and assumptions, and generated new questions like: What other roles can coaching play in this crisis? How could coaching contribute to “building back better”? Where are the voices of other stakeholders – less recognised groups from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds or the environment itself - in coaching?

Shifting our definition of stakeholders ‘up and out’ like this opens up a level of awareness and responsibility we all share in creating our new future. So for all the challenges this pandemic brings, it also bring opportunities for us to rethink our role in the wider system. As such, we invite you as leaders, coaches or businesses to consider the following questions:

 

1. If the environment/other stakeholders were ‘in the room’ with you today, what would they want you to think and talk about? And what would they challenge you to do?

2. In what ways might you respond? What can you influence and impact?

3. Fast forward 12 months: if you’d made a positive change, what would be different, and how would you know?

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