20 Coach Culture Campbell (see references worksheet). We pretend that we are anthropologists that have been dropped into the rainforests of Brazil, and have come upon on a new tribe that we’ve never discovered before. We ask them all kinds of questions of the organization: Who are the elders? What are the rites of passage? What do we go to war for? It’s amazing to hear the answers that these people provide. I debrief with the leaders, and they’re always shocked. They don’t understand. “What do you mean that it’s not safe? What do you mean that they won’t support me?” They have no clue that this culture has developed beneath them. Culture can be explicit—published in company literature—or simply inherited based on how the leader operates, how coffee breaks go, how communications trickle down. New leaders especially fall prey to this. They don’t realize that they have a different management style than the last leader. They just assume that everyone will fall in line, even though the team has no idea what they’re thinking. It’s not unlike how we operate with romantic partners: we expect them to know what we’re thinking, even if we never say it out loud.
Introduction 21 EXERCISE: CULTURAL VALUES When I do my coaching work with organizations outside of the U.S., I actually seek to embrace our differences, rather than homogenize them. I look to illustrate differences and within them find commonalities. The document I refer to again and again is “Values Americans Live by” by L. Robert Kohls who was the Executive Director of the Washington International Center in Washington, D.C. He wrote this document in April 1984, and yet it breathes true today. In this paper, he identifies unique American values, that could be mistaken for rudeness or aloofness by other countries that practice hospitality so well. By highlighting these, it allows others to identify their own values and how they are demonstrated. This rich discussion brings the group closer together and creates a vocabulary for collaboration. ARE YOU READY TO CREATE A COACHING CULTURE? So now, you’ve found this book. Maybe you’re a new leader; maybe you’re a manager who wants a change. You think this whole coaching culture might be the solution, and for a good reason. But I have to warn you: the number one principle here is the willingness to question your beliefs. If you’ve been walking around thinking it’s faster and more effective to just tell people what to do, you’d better be ready to question that if you’re going to keep reading. It comes down to embracing curiosity over judgment, which is traditionally the hardest leap for managers to make. It will be so tempting to keep telling your team, “This is how I did it. This is what worked for me, so go do it my way.” That can even feel like coaching, but