It does in Stakeholder Centered Coaching®. In fact it’s critical!
In my role as an executive educator, I’ve been directly and indirectly responsible for training thousands of coaches in the Stakeholder Centered Coaching process. Long ago, I trained my good friend Chris Coffey, who along with Frank Wagner leads the Stakeholder Centered Coaching certification in the U.S. and has now trained thousands of coaches himself. Obviously, the key word in Stakeholder Centered Coaching is “stakeholder”.
In a recent interview with Chris, I asked him to explain the role and importance of stakeholders in our coaching process. Below is a short excerpt, which I hope is useful to you as you learn about Stakeholder Centered Coaching.
Marshall: As you know, Chris, we don’t get paid if our clients don’t achieve positive lasting change in behavior, not as judged by us or them, but as judged by all those important stakeholders around them. Obviously, in Stakeholder Centered Coaching, the key word is that word “stakeholder.”
Why don’t you describe the role of the stakeholder and the importance of the stakeholder in our coaching process?
Chris: Changing behavior and perception in parallel is one of our key principles. So, yes, you have to change behavior. I’ll often ask the question: on a scale of 1 to 10, how hard is to change a behavior that’s a habit? People often reply, “9!”. And, to get someone else to change their perception of you once they have formed it is even harder.
The idea of the active engagement of stakeholders is to tell them what the client is working on and then engage them as support. When we talk, in person or in teleconference, I tell them the ground rules to be a stakeholder. Number one, they have to be willing to let go of the past. Holding onto what somebody did a year ago isn’t going to help anybody. I ask them to suspend that, and only judge the coachee’s improvement from this day forward on the one or two behaviors they have selected to change.
Marshall: Yeah, you might be good, but you really can’t change the past.
Chris: Right. You can’t change the past. And number two, they must be supportive of the process. They shouldn’t be a critic, a cynic, or a judge. I ask them to focus on how it will benefit them if and when this person becomes more effective at what you’ve said is the behavior they need to change, what they need to get better at.
And then, if the stakeholder has the courage, what’s something they could do to help that person get better. For instance, if you have an issue that the person isn’t clear, then don’t walk out of the room until they have made their request clear. Don’t walk out and say, “I’ve got it” if you don’t.
So much of our coaching process is working with the stakeholders. As a coach, I am always available to the stakeholders, and I tell them that. If there’s something going on that they want me to be aware of, I tell them to call me. Our coaching process is very much a systems approach. It’s not just coach-coachee, it’s coach, coachee, and stakeholders. It’s such a solid process and stakeholders are critical to it.