Systems-Based Transformational Coaching – A New Paradigm For Coaching?

I’ve been doing mostly executive coaching and a little life coaching for the last 30 years. My work has been mostly as support for leaders and managers as we go through Systems-Based Transformational Leadership implementation in their businesses. For 20 of those 30 years I was probably like most other coaches in my approach to my clients, lots of listening and asking questions, guiding people toward solutions that live in all of us. I’m also a big believer in action, in particular right action and in the right sequence along with accountability for one’s actions. Why have a coach if you’re not going to take action to improve your business or life?

Over the last 10 years, my coaching has changed a lot, and for the better for both my clients and me. In my consulting and training work, and now my coaching, one principle is foundational to everything else:

Approximately 94% of the outcomes we experience in business or life, both good and bad, are a function of the systems in which people work and live, not the efforts of those people.

 If we want to solve problems in business or grow faster or make more money, simply said, we must optimize or re-create our systems. No amount of pushing people to do better will improve anything when the problems are in the systems. Yet, so many of my clients have been taught, wrongly, that when problems arise, their job was to work on the 6%, trying to get people to behave differently to get the preferred outcomes. This, for the most part, is a total waste of time that only demoralizes or angers people who are wrongly blamed for outcomes over which they have no control.

In business, we call the way we do things systems or processes. At home, they are called habits. Regardless of what we call them, they are systems and responsible for 94% of the outcome we want to change. However, it’s not enough to change the systems. We also have to change the thinking that keeps the old systems in place.

Luckily, it turns out the mind, too, is systematic. With slight modification, we can use the same tools we use to optimize systems to “optimize” the mind (transform our thinking). This makes change sustainable and fast. We see changes in systems (business) and people (life) that occur in weeks rather than months, years, or possibly not at all.

If you’re a coach and want to take your coaching to a whole new level both for business or life coaching, consider adding Systems-Based Transformational Coaching to your toolbox.