Leadership Coaching to Support your D&I Strategies: Don’t let it be the Missing Link

Leadership Coaching to Support your D&I Strategies: Don’t let it be the Missing Link

Written by Magda Barceló

In 2007, I started delivering Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) workshops. This was around the same time that the first law in Spain that made it compulsory for companies with more than 250 employees to have sound policies around this area began, and I was thrilled with its reception.

People in the organizations opened up, shared their experiences of inequalities, mismanagement of diversity and inclusion etc. They viewed the law and our intervention in the corporate environment as part of the solution, and they embraced the effort with their insights, experience and contributions. Whilst plans and policies were drafted, trainings followed and things started to shift, and it was difficult to gauge the real impact of those interventions.

However, there was one insight that remained with me. Until the leaders of the organizations would engage in a journey of personal development, the changes brought by training and consulting processes would be limited. This limit was set by the underdeveloped skills and unconscious biases of the very leaders that bravely promoted such interventions. That is because, paraphrasing Theory U leadership principles, ‘the inner state of the intervener determines the result of the intervention.

How could we as consultants address the blind spots of the leaders blocking the transformations that they were aiming at? The response for me was clear; we needed to work with the leader directly, on a one-on-one basis. Coaching was the missing link!

My training and certification as an Integral coach at New Ventures West was one of the major turning points in my life. The signature of Integral coaching® is its focus on the developmental level of the coachee and from there it’s about supporting its growth. This can be achieved through fostering different skills and intelligences such as the emotional intelligence, the relational one, the spiritual, the rational, the somatic and the integration of all the intelligences in one.

Starting a coaching practice and bringing my coaching skills to Pluribus felt the most natural move. As this awareness at Pluribus grew, our programs included more and more leadership coaching; before or after a training in D&I, as part of a 360º process, or simply as a way to foster leadership capabilities and leadership styles.

Coaching leaders

Once the feedback comes through the 360º report, the most senior leader finds themselves in a place of vulnerability, and often with a certain level of defensiveness – conscious or unconscious. In their testimonials, leaders mention acquiring a new level of self-awareness thanks to these coachings. They understand better their own strengths and blind spots by diving deeper into their own thoughts, emotions, and reactions. As such, coaching benefits both professional life and personal life, as it is considered by the coachees as a great tool for personal growth and development.

As one of our Pluribus coaches said, it is also about enhancing skills and “encouraging a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability, which is essential in today’s fast-paced world”. The impacts are numerous: higher decision-making abilities, capacity to inspire and motivate teams, improve communication skills, manage stress and challenges in a more effective way, better navigate uncertainties, enhance their emotional intelligence, build resilience and leave a lasting legacy of leadership. All of this to consequently benefit the company’s performance. 

And this impact can be measures, through performance metrics, higher employee satisfaction scores and increased retention rates. Another coach shared: “Additionally, specific goals set at the beginning of the coaching process can be evaluated to measure progress and outcomes”.

Our role as coaches is to frame the coaching as a learning experience, where the report is a starting point from which to explore the leader’s developmental edges, from a place of trust, respect, and authenticity. It starts as an honest conversation, to understand patterns and analyse the results of the report, to see growth areas, but also, and this is essential, to celebrate and appreciate the strengths. Many coachees talk about the methodology of these session and describe it as a “structured and supportive environment”, and that the combination of 360° and coaching caused “breakthrough moments”. After the coaching sessions, most of the time leaders feel seen and understood. One coachee mentioned being grateful that even their unspoken words were listened to and that they now had a clear notion on where to focus their energies to continue to grow.

Today at Pluribus, a great number of leaders have engaged in journeys of personal development through leadership coaching; making a difference in their own lives and the lives of their teams, and coaching has become a key part of our D&I interventions. 

Would you like to know more about our programs and how transformational leadership can enhance your company’s work? If so, get in touch with us today!

Written by Magda Barceló, Pluribus Senior Associate, Coach and Consultant (based in Spain)

April 2024