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Black swan events: the power of coaching through sudden change

Richard Marsden

Organizations across the globe faced disruption and challenges few of us could have ever anticipated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As supply chain issues, rising energy prices and skills shortages also continue to impact business, it seems likely that individuals and businesses will ironically have to respond and adapt to more frequent 'black swan' events. 

In many ways, carving out regular time for coaching is potentially more important in these times of constant change than at any other. 

So how can a business coach help? 

Q. What is a black swan event?

A. A black swan event is one that is unexpected, has high impact and, though less relevant for our purposes here, can be rationalized as unsurprising in hindsight.

1. Coaching provides space to reflect on the bigger picture

Business coaching provides that priceless commodity in a leader’s diary: cordoned-off time. While we can all try to block out our calendar, it rarely results in quality thinking time. A regular coaching session allows you the space to reflect on the bigger picture and discuss your thoughts with someone who can help you detach yourself from the intensity of your job and think more strategically. Even a 30-minute session can prove invaluable in giving you the opportunity to step back. 

2. A business coach is neutral

Many businesses are facing some pretty tough questions at the moment. If you’re a senior leader you may have difficult decisions to make about the direction of travel, prioritization of work and staffing. The nature of your individual role may be shifting. On a macro level, the role your organization is playing could be changing too. It can be difficult to talk these things through with colleagues who are likely to be professionally and/or emotionally involved on some level. 

A coach provides a neutral sounding board for you to take a tactical step back and talk through these obstacles, listening confidentially with no agenda or judgement so you can work out how challenges ahead.

3. Coaching provides a framework

Another great benefit of coaching, over trying to work things through on your own, is structure. On a basic level, a coach brings a framework. This helps you look at your problems in a way that takes you to actions, not just around in circles. 

Here at Berkeley, we particularly like using a simple four-step process known as the GROW model. This allows you to set goals, look at the reality of the situation, explore the options available and work out a way forward.

Building a framework like this can be a very powerful way to generate new insights and actions. It gives a coach the opportunity to listen and ask key questions. Laying the foundations to help guide you through a thought process and work out a way to improve the situation you are in.

Can you connect with a coach in a virtual world? Yes you can.

For business coaching to have an impact, chemistry is such an important part of the equation. So is it really possible to develop this rapport over Zoom or Teams? We believe it is – even if you start working with a coach you haven’t yet met in real life. 

Now that so many meetings have moved to a virtual world, we are finding digital meetings can be as personal as meeting face-to-face. Talking via a screen involves eye contact. We’re also being parachuted straight into each other’s houses – often a private study or living room. This can help you feel more comfortable. And, intentionally or not, it can provide more of an insight into someone than you would get in a sterile meeting room. 

Just like in the real world, the key is finding a quiet space away from distractions. Take a little time in your first session to establish a relationship, and virtual coaching works.  

Business coaching can help you get set for a rapidly changing world

Coaching can help you peer through the fog of uncertainty and review what’s likely to have changed temporarily, permanently and fundamentally. Helping you consider what to bring into the new world and laying the groundwork to get your organization in a strong position for the future.  

Learn more about how Berkeley’s professional coaching approach can help your organization achieve its goals here. Alternatively contact Richard Marsden, Partner to discuss your requirements in more detail. 

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