This month, we welcomed Anna Aslanova, Senior Expert in Learning and Development and Corporate Coach at Access Holding, as our guest speaker on our latest Leaders Talk webinar, to debate how to foster a culture of coaching for business growth.
She shared insights about Access Holding’s approach to leadership. Specifically, how they’re creating a multi-level coaching culture to transform NFI’s (Network Financial Institutions) leadership to build the human capacity for tomorrow. During the session, Anna talked about intent, needs, objectives, and why it is important for AccessHolding to grow leaders by promoting a coaching culture for growth.
By elaborating on the ideas, steps, and interventions she illustrated how this culture change has become an important part of NFI’s leadership development and organisational success.
Leaders Talk is our Leadership webinar series where we invite thought leaders and business leaders as our contribution to creating knowledge, learning and thought leadership, by discussing new technologies and ways of leading.
Who are AccessHolding?
Access Microfinance Holding AG is a fast-growing commercial investment and development company, established in 2006, working with a highly diverse workforce in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. AccessHolding’s success derives from a purposeful approach to investing, high values, and an emphasis on modern leadership.
Why did AccessHolding need a culture for coaching?
AccessHolding recognised the critical importance of establishing a coaching culture within their organisation. They strongly believe in the growth and development of their employees and actively encourage them to expand their knowledge and skills. By fostering a culture of coaching, AccessHolding is able to unlock the full potential of their staff and empower them to find their own solutions while addressing current leadership challenges.
The decision was made to adopt a coaching culture as a means of comprehending their team dynamics and leveraging each others’ strengths for collective growth.
Their approach involves addressing leaders as individuals while considering the team as a whole. This is achieved through 360-degree assessments that are based on a predefined set of leadership competencies, which serve as the primary drivers for the coaching process.
Importantly they understand that it is not possible to attain desired outcomes solely by focusing on the leader which is why they have a coaching culture running through the whole of their organisation.
What is coaching?
At the start of the session, Anna explained that their approach always starts with the question ‘why?’
For her, before they started to implement their approach in 2018, it was important to identify what coaching is. To do this, she leant heavily on the definition from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), which defines coaching as:
‘Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.’
Is coaching the same as other developmental interventions?
During the session, Anna distinguished coaching from other forms of developmental interventions by establishing the following characteristics:
- Coaching is distinct from mentoring as mentoring involves giving advice, sharing knowledge, and imparting personal experiences.
- It differs from consultancy in that consultancy often entails sharing a pre-existing, ready-made process.
- Unlike training, coaching does not involve the teaching of content during coaching sessions.
- Coaching differs from psychotherapy, as it does not focus on treating mental disorders.
AccessHolding Executive Board perception of coaching initiative
Was the coaching initiative accepted by the Executive Board? Anna acknowledges that it is a new area of development, particularly with respect to change management. She has perceived a strong backing from the management, who are committed to driving change and fostering employee growth. While there has been some reluctance to embrace change from some individuals, they do not exert pressure on those who are not ready. Instead, they showcase positive examples of coaching and demonstrate to senior management how it can serve as a role model. Anna feels it is essential to the success of the approach to highlight such instances.
The focus and approach is to expand coaching opportunities to a wider range of individuals and highlight the benefits they have derived from it. Anna and her team work with individuals who are willing and ready to embrace change, as this enables others to witness the effectiveness of the coaching process.
Process implementation strategies and insights
The project was initiated in 2018-19 with a focus on coaching training and determining the course of action. The team then began exploring ways to make coaching more relevant to their needs and started using it as a means of supporting traditional learning to facilitate its integration into daily working life.
They realised that the coaching process needed to be deeply embedded within the organisation. It was also essential to ensure that everyone understood the true essence of coaching and had access to coaching skills that could be leveraged as managerial tools.
The coaching process is ongoing and continuous as leaders continue to evolve. While certain topics may be addressed and an arc of coaching completed, there is always room for more areas of focus. Coaching should become a part of the support team to help in challenging situations. Ultimately, they know coaching is a never-ending process.
Creating a thought-provoking and creative process that enables individuals to work on real-life issues is commendable. The primary focus should be on coaching to foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Within AccessHolding, coaching serves as a valuable tool to support traditional learning opportunities and make them more relevant. By integrating coaching into the learning process, individuals can effectively address real-life challenges and build on their knowledge and skills.
Cross-cultural variations in coaching implementation
While the readiness of different banks within the AccessHolding group for coaching may be influenced by their respective cultures, there are certain common denominators that facilitate a successful coaching implementation. These include the presence of leaders and change agents at all levels who are willing to experiment and try new approaches. This supports the focus on coaching and reinforces its efficacy. Anna and her team have concluded it is crucial to persistently work with leaders and teams to foster a coaching culture and ensure its integration into the organisation.
Would you like to feature on our next Leaders Talk?
Do you consider yourself a thought leader when it comes to the field of leadership and development?
If so, then we’d like to hear from you.
We have been running our hugely successful Leaders Talk webinars for a number of months and are on the look-out for guest speakers from different organisations and industries to join our CEO, Dr. Marcus Gottschalk to discuss the current hot topics in L&D.
During the monthly webinars Marcus and our guest speakers break down and discuss the future of leadership, focusing on best practices, new technologies, useful tools and insightful tips.
As you can see the topics are diverse and wide-ranging, but they are always guaranteed to be thought-provoking and challenging.
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If you’d like to share your industry knowledge and experience with Marcus in a Leaders Talk webinar, simply click on the link, fill in your details including the topic you wish to discuss and we’ll get back to you.
We look forward to hearing from you.