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Coaching culture – the benefit for the legal sector 

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Leadership in law firms is often underestimated and while this tendency finds its basis in a flawed perspective, there are ways in which leadership in law firms also needs to rise to the occasion to prove it wrong.

5 ways coaching culture can benefit your business

Sir John Whitmore, viewed by many as a pioneer of coaching, said that skilled coaching involves “unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.” As a leader, this ability to unlock the potential of your teams is an incredibly valuable skill to possess. It benefits not only the employees themselves but also the overall performance of the organisation.

Embedding coaching in a law firm’s culture therefore starts at the top – with senior leaders modelling a coaching approach from the top down. An embedded coaching culture allows leaders to learn from those around them and inspire collective growth – here’s how

1. A healthy ROI

There is growing and consistent evidence that coaching is a sound investment for any business. Research from The International Coach Federation (ICF) found that coaching tends to generate an ROI of between $4 and $8 for every dollar invested.

With employees feeling more valued and engaged as a result of coaching, retention across an organisation increases. In the long-term, employee retention can have a huge impact on a firm’s sustainability and success. With the average employee exit costing 33% of their annual salary, it’s easy to see why.

Improved employee engagement and wellbeing also equates to reduced rates of absenteeism, adding another string to the bow of coaching culture.

2. Stronger teams

Coaching is key to improving the performance of entire teams. Coaching allows leaders to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in their team, and as such manage the team to draw out its best performance.

Leaders with a coaching style encourage the sharing of experience and expertise, which in turn encourages positive collaboration. This creates an environment where team members feel safe to give and receive constructive feedback, both from the leader and each other. 

Positive collaboration also discourages unhealthy competition within teams. While some competition can be positive, it has the potential to cause undue stress or conflict. But when a coaching culture is fostering collaboration, leaders will be in a stronger position to resolve discord within their teams.

3. Increased employee engagement

The height of engagement is a work environment where all members of an organisation feel motivated to do their best and are committed to the goals, vision and values of their organisation. There’s a sense of wellbeing and belonging.

But it’s hard to feel you belong if you don’t feel heard. The coaching experience offers people the chance to be listened to. Although embedding a culture relies on modelling from the top, at the same time coaching can give employees a sense of a flattened hierarchy, where everyone feels valued, listened to and compelled to contribute.

But more than that, coaching creates a space for people to identify the underlying reasons why they might be struggling to engage. On the surface these may look like apathy or shyness or micro-management. But when individuals experience a coaching approach, they begin to confront these issues and take control of their development. 

By instilling a sense of ownership in their development, people gain a sense of stability, worth and job satisfaction that increases their intrinsic motivation. And when people are motivated from within, they are more likely to press through personal inhibitions or systemic issues that are discouraging them from engaging fully.

4. Improved employer branding

Coaching is known to improve employee wellbeing and job satisfaction. When your employees are happy, they are the fiercest ambassadors for your brand – in person and online, they will talk about and share everything that is good about your firm.

In effect, they are doing your marketing for you. A coaching culture will significantly contribute to ensuring that the reputation your firm gains via employer branding is one that benefits your business. It helps you attract the best new recruits and filters through to your customers.

5. A growth mindset

Coaching facilitates a culture of openness – a healthy respect and willingness to share different ideas at all levels – which reduces the hierarchical structure and creates a growth mindset. Everyone becomes comfortable learning from each other and solving problems around the same table.

With a coaching culture and the growth mindset at its heart, your company has the potential to move forward, thrive and profit. And your people won’t want to be anywhere else.

So what?

Managers and leaders who are trained to utilise long-term coaching skills will be well aware of these benefits to business as outlined above. They will know how to promote professional growth and an ethical, purpose-driven leadership. The kind that improves employee wellbeing, increases retention and pulls a healthy ROI.

“Looking outside the legal sector to bring in professional leadership would be a smart approach,” says Richard Macklin, Former Global Vice Chair and Global Client Partner at Dentons. “If you’re going to see a culture change, you want to bring in an executive who has spent their life being developed and honed as a leader.”

It might be difficult for lawyers to get behind a leader who hasn’t lived the life of a lawyer themselves. But might be an effective way to dislodge some of the short-term, motivational leader thinking that is holding back a firm’s potential. One way or another, the trend needs to change. 

For more information on training leaders in your organisation to adopt and instil a coaching culture, contact TPC’s experts. 

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