The role of the companion coach
Moving out of old paradigms is hard and often iterative: we gradually see differently as we gradually change. Even as we coaches try to step out of the position of the expert advice giver, our commitment to the coaching approach is often challenged by clients who are looking for input from the mindset of seeking help from without rather than within. In 'Reinventing Organisations' Laloux describes the 'unwritten principles' that have emerged as part of Buurtzorg's culture, a neighbourhood care organisation in the Netherlands that has revolutionised nursing care through a network of self-managing, self-organising teams who harness the help of coaches to meet the challenges that confront them:
"- It's okay for teams to struggle. From struggle comes learning. And teams that have gone through difficult moments build resilience and a deep sense of community. The coach's role therefore is not to prevent foreseeable problems, but to support teams in solving them (and later help them reflect on how they've grown in the process).
- The coach's role is to let teams make their own choices, even if she believes she knows a better solution.
- The coach supports the team mostly by asking insightful questions and mirroring what she sees. She helps teams frame issues and solutions in light of Buurtzorg's purpose and its holistic approach to care (values).
- The starting point is always to look for enthusiasm, strengths, and existing capabilities within the team. The coach projects trust that the team has all it takes to solve the problems it faces."