I am a master’s degree graduate within Strategy, Organization and Leadership from Copenhagen Business School. Jon Ingham was kind enough to invite me to this community due to my interest in social capital, and asked me to share some insights from my master thesis. I’ve recently published a LinkedIn article (my very first one) with some post-thesis reflections about how investing into internal leadership coaching will have an impact on SC development and organizational agility (check link in the bottom). I wrote my master thesis for Maersk Group on the topic of leadership development through internal coaching.
My leadership studies focused a lot on the difference between leader development (human capital) and leadership development (social capital). One of my favorite definitions of social capital is one of an interpersonal lens, that is grounded in a relationship model of leadership, at the heart of which are commitment in the form of mutual obligations supported by reciprocated trust and respect. A takeaway from my thesis is how investing into internal coaching, will lead to a coaching culture that can bring a great contribution to social capital development. Leadership coaching develops both the leader (HC) through leader-role efficacy and the leader’s trust in subordinates, improving his relationships (SC). Having a coaching culture makes an organization more aware of relationship building and taps into the power of SC. Thus, my point is that more HRD efforts should be made towards practices such as internal coaching that target also leaders. I am not saying that executive coaching should be replaced by internal coaching, these two practices have different purposes and should be complementary.
Jon made a very good remark on my article saying that coaching for HC should be different than coaching for SC. I agree with his point. Many other types of coaching can contribute to a coaching culture and impact SC development, such as peer-coaching. The reason for my focus on leadership coaching is because the case for my thesis targeted middle-to senior-management. I think many internal coaching programs don’t target management, because management has different executive needs and there is an extra layer of complexity to internal coaching with aspects as power dynamics, confidentiality, politeness and impression management, which is a pity if you ask me. I strongly believe that by engaging leaders into the practice of internal coaching, there will be more engagement and acceptance across the organization, as well as an increased awareness of relationship building through the internal coach-coachee interaction. The intimacy of coaching will bring better insights, so HRD professionals can design more personalized, agile and holistic development programs that also consider SC development. What do you think? Could internal leadership coaching contribute to social capital development?
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Cristina. Having been both an internal and external coach, I find your arguments valid. Internal vs external -- there are advantages and disadvantages. My position is that coaching should be part of every leader/manager's toolkit. The training to make it so can be internal or external. The mindset, the attitude plus time and in some cases courage are key. Perhaps the place to start is in promotion and selection decisions.
I agree with you John on the leader's responsibility for coaching and thus the contribution it brings to SC. My thoughts are directed towards HRD Specialists or Learning & Development professionals that work with development programs. There is a trend in using internal coaching, also at higher levels in organizations. While the main reasoning behind it was/ is financial, many argue for the benefits of internal coaching that impact the organization's culture, agility and the social dynamics. I am by no means an expert, but I defended my master thesis with an idea that applies for any organization. If internal coaching programs are targeting leaders as well, there is a higher buy-in at an executive level, a quicker move towards a coaching culture and a higher impact on social capital. I see it as an opportunity for HRD to step up the game and create leadership development programs that will utilize internal coaching and will teach leaders how to use coaching for social capital development, not only focus on HC.
The problem is that in many organizations coaching is still perceived as a form of intervention, especially in management. If it is executed by HR, there is a reinforcement of HR being the bogeyman, leading thus to mistrust, impression management and other things that will not help the coaching practice. That is why external coaching is so much safer and will bring great contributions to HC. However, the relationship between external coach and leader won't have a greater impact in the social dynamics of the organization. An internal coach recognizes power dynamics, politics and aspects of the culture much quicker, experiencing perhaps some of the same things at the workplace, and being able to focus more on the relationships the leader might have and how he/she can work with social capital. I am looking forward to reading some of your work and to hear whether you think my train of thought is completely off. I know that coaching has so many different shapes and forms, it’s used for so many different purposes and it can lead to confusion. It truly is also used as a buzzword in organizations, especially if there is no clear purpose or strategy behind using it in HR. A great method for social capital development is definitely 'manager as coach', if it's not done at the same time with performance appraisals (I encountered cases in which it works like that) and the manager/ leader is given some help and support in developing coaching skills and knowing how to address its ambiguity and how it affects power dynamics in the manager-employee relationship.
I have not thought about internal vs external coaching in regard to HC and SC. I have viewed (and practiced) external coaching as HC. I may need to expand my thinking here. I view coaching as a leader's responsibility. In so doing, a leader should be contributing to dimensions of social capital. Here are my most recent blogs on coaching:Manager as Coach, On Coachable Moments,The Importance of CoachingAptitude, Trust, Time
Thanks so much for sharing Cristina. I think you make some great points here and agree SC is a further reason to shift towards internal coaching. I'd love to hear John Ballard's reactions to this, as John has also written on leader / leadership development for HC/SC. John?