Your Coaching for Community Transformation Questions: Answered
By Meghan Ondrish
While Coaching for Community Transformation (CCT) is still a fairly new program for Leadership that Works, it’s quickly becoming part of the essence of what we do as a leadership organization. To help our own community of students, graduates and faculty get a better understanding of what CCT is, we asked three of the core team members—Virginia Kellogg, Leslie Brown and Belma González—to answer a few frequently asked questions.
Is CCT a training course?
Yes, but we’re not just training folks to become professional coaches, we’re also training people to integrate coaching skills into the work they already do in their communities and organizations. When we go into a community or an organization, we go in as a coach (and therefore a partner), not as an “expert.” We know the people in the community or organization are the experts in knowing what is needed and how coaching can be applied in their unique setting.
We also bring in the importance of cultural awareness and addressing power and privilege issues in order that everyone can show up whole—with all their norms, values, beliefs, traditions—in the training and more importantly, in the work they are doing in their communities. Coaching skills support the conversations and areas for growth needed to become culturally aware—curiosity, three levels of listening, empowering questions, and more, create an environment where dialogue around sometimes challenging issues on differences, “isms”, etc. can begin.
How are coaching skills changing these organizations and communities?
We see CCT participants and their organizations and communities go from transactional interactions, i.e. meeting goals, crossing off to-do lists, to also having transformational interactions in which they are deeply listening to one another, getting curious about what wants to emerge and what is possible—like in more “traditional” one-to-one coaching.
When communities and organizations use transformational coaching skills, there is more trust, respect, cultural awareness, connection, vulnerability. From there, more thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations and innovative strategies naturally emerge. Practically speaking, CCT participants can provide each other with coaching support, even organized peer coaching, to address issues they are facing. This results in everyone bringing their best selves to their community work.
CCT is changing the way people work together. It helps create a different space than just a normal supervisory, staff, board, community, alliance meeting, etc. By using skills such as asking empowering questions, creating a stand, committing to becoming more aware of culture, power and privilege, identifying and making requests and challenges and structuring accountability, people working in organizations and with community members can come up with more visionary, effective and creative solutions.
The CCT faculty considers coaching skills to be foundational work that can enhance and be integrated into other trainings and skills participants are accessing. In fact, we’ve heard this from our participants! In one community CCT participants were also part of a leadership development program. Community members utilized peer coaching to explore how best to use their new leadership skills.
How do you teach an entire community coaching skills?
A CCT training room can look very similar to a certification cohort. The biggest difference in CCT trainings is the emphasis on the application of the coaching skills to each individual’s organizational or community setting.
The application piece is crucial for CCT participants, so our basic core curriculum has a strong focus on applying the skills. Every single day of training (and we reference it throughout), we spend time supporting the students in connecting the skills to what they do in their communities, so they can strategize and practice how best to implement the skills.
Sometimes a CCT training is with the staff of an organization who integrates and enhances their work with coaching skills. They may be looking at creating a coaching “culture” within their organization—one that supports the mindset of coaching as well as utilizes specific skills. We also do training with participants coming from different organizations or sectors of a community. This allows for the creation of a new community who can learn across their perspectives, roles, areas of expertise, etc.
What’s different about this kind of coaching?
What’s different is that it is a new paradigm. CCT is expanding the opportunity for more people to learn coaching skills and benefit from coaching. It is also stretching how coaching skills are applied, and how coaching enhances social justice and other community goals.
CCT faculty are excited about partnering with new communities—cultural, geographic, age, sector, issues—and offering coaching to folks who haven’t had access. It’s a great way for people to get connected to passion, values and own their power. It’s revolutionary—it changes the way groups can work together.
What kind of communities do you work in?
We’re focusing our energies in the nonprofit sector including education and social justice groups. While the for-profit world has already brought coaching into their organizations, it’s newer in the nonprofit work. We’re excited to be initiators in the effort and to continue to explore what is possible by partnering with communities and organizations wanting to make a better world.
How can someone get involved in CCT?
It’s easier than you think. The best way is to look at who in your community could benefit from partnering with Leadership that Works and accessing coaching skills. The first step is to have a conversation with one of us to learn more and see if there is a match.
Can I get involved now, even if I’m still in the certification process?
Absolutely, you can partner with us while you are still in training in the certification program. A few of you already have and we welcome more!
What’s next for CCT?
We’re excited at the results of recent two-day Coaching Essentials trainings in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California. Coaching Essentials has previously been marketed as an easy way for people to explore Coaching for Transformation certification training. The trainers on the West Coast expanded this concept to include people wanting to learn about becoming a certified coach, plus folks wanting to learn coaching skills they could put to immediate use and everyone “in-between.” In-between meaning people who want to enhance the work they are doing in their communities and in their organizations.
Coaching Essentials participants learned the different ways they could partner with Leadership that Works, and we’re very excited to watch transformation unfold in organizations who are adopting coaching as a foundational skill for their employees. Additional two-day Coaching Essentials will be offered in Oakland and Los Angeles with primarily (but not exclusively) nonprofit, social justice, and folks of color.
A CCT certification course is also being planned for the West Coast. The Coaching for Community Transformation Certification (CCC) is a 60+ hour training with mentoring for folks who want to get more coach training and rigor in their skills. CCC participants want to utilize their coaching skills to enhance the work they’re committed to in their communities and potentially become Internal Coaches within their organizations.
For more information about Coaching for Community Transformation download an E-brochure.