Is your organization building a coaching culture? Would you like to see coaching become the common conversational currency within your environment? If yes, I recently gave an eight (8) minute ‘ZED’ Talk at The Hudson Institute’s annual coaching conference that I think you’ll find valuable.

Link to video of Mike’s presentation.

Below is a rough transcript of the video.


My objectives today are to:

  • Highlight recent coaching culture benchmark study findings and where I see some large opportunity gaps.
  • Explain why I believe self-coaching can help to close those gaps.
  • Share how I define self-coaching at a high level
  • Encourage you to experiment with self-coaching in your own worlds.

A Business Case Exists for ‘Strong’ Coaching Cultures

Building coaching cultures is such a hot topic that the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) have partnered in both 2014 and 2015 to conduct benchmark studies on the topic. Here’s a link to recorded webinar overviews of both of those studies. I encourage you to check these out if you are working in this space.

The bottom line from both studies is that there is a solid business case for ‘strong’ coaching cultures. (I use the word ‘strong’ as that is the language used in these studies.)

Companies that were determined to have strong coaching cultures had notably higher levels of employee engagment than companies that did not have strong coaching cultures. They also reported notably stronger YOY revenue growth than their industry peers.

Opportunity Gap #1 – Most Companies Do Not Have Strong Coaching Cultures

A finding that I found fascinating is how many companies have NOT achieved a ‘strong’ coaching culture and missing out on those great benefits I just described.

Fully 85% of the companies in the 2015 ICF benchmark study have NOT achieved a ‘Strong’ Coaching Culture.

This number is much higher than I expected, especially for companies in these studies that are proactively working on building a coaching culture.

This represents a large opportunity gap, the first of two I’m highlighting today.

Opportunity Gap #2 – Most Employees Do Not Have Access to Coach-Specific Training

Also super informative is WHO gets training to develop coaching skills.


As you’d expect, most companies – 75% of those in the 2014 study – are providing training to their leaders and managers to develop coaching skills.

But here’s the more interesting question to me. What are companies doing below the manager level…with that largest chunk of their employee population? While there is no data here, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most companies provide little or no coach-specific training to this audience.

And I get that. Why invest in building coaching skills in employees that don’t have any direct coaching responsibilities?

I see this as a second huge opportunity gap…to more broadly involve and engage the entire employee population in building a coaching culture.

To Reiterate – Two Opportunity Gaps

Gap #1 – Most companies have not yet achieved a ‘strong coaching culture, and

Gap #2 – Most employees have no access to coach-specific training.

Self-Coaching – Gap Closer

Self-coaching has a role to play in closing both of these gaps.

Offering training to all employees on self-coaching (on an opt-in basis) can change everything. It’s a full frontal assault on Gap #2 that will ultimately help more companies achieve a strong coaching culture that is Gap #1.

Let me share a few thoughts on how I define self-coaching

Your Most Important Coach

Most of us identify with having one or more ‘coaches’ in our life…whether it’s a formal coach, a family member, our partner, a colleague or a friend. This is great and I’m an advocate for having those relationships.

However, who do we talk to more than anybody else? This answer is the same for all of us. Ourselves! That’s why I propose that each of us is in fact our most important coach.

Self-coaching is about cultivating an inner coaching voice, to bring more of a coaching flavor to some of those conversations we are already having with ourselves.

It’s important to note that self-coaching is intended to augment the existing coaching relationships in our lives. Self-coaching works best with the support of trusted others.

Self-Coaching – Raising Self-Awareness

For me, self-coaching is heavily based on heightening self-awareness. Self-awareness is critical to achieving one’s potential. Of course the realm of SA is enormous. To keep it simple I focus on these three areas:

  • The first area is Attention. We live in a world of distraction. Learning to more effectively monitor and control our attention is instrumental to self-coaching.
  • The other two areas are self-limiting behaviors and self-limiting stories. In self-coaching we learn to identify where our actions and our thoughts get in the way of realizing our potential.

The Self-Coaching Path – Making it Real

To make this actionable, I’ve identified a simple three-step approach (again, simplicity is key) that I call the self-coaching path.

  • The first step on this path is ‘Strengthening Attention,’ which involves improving our ability to focus. This alone can be hugely beneficial.
  • With heightened control of our attention, we can take on the second step of ‘Observing One’s Self.’ It’s important to do the inner (thoughts and feelings) work in order to support the outer (behavioral) change.
  • And finally, the third step is ‘Being Response-Able;’ to be able to more consistently choose responses in-the-moment as opposed to succumbing to our more habitual ways of responding.

See this prior post with a more detailed working definition of self-coaching if you’d like to know more about this.

Self-Coaching Outcomes Supporting Coaching Cultures

So here’s how self-coaching skills, being taught at all levels of an organization, contribute to a strong coaching culture and help to close the gaps I highlighted earlier:

  • More employees will now be involved in gaining skills around coaching.
  • Employees will be more self-sufficient and hence less dependent on their leaders ability to provide coaching.
  • Some leaders will feel more comfortable coaching their employees if they know they’ve learned about self-coaching. Employees will be great “coachees” who hit the ground running in a coaching relationship.
  • And as a nice ‘oh by the way,’ how great will it be for the organization to have a more self-aware, emotionally intelligent and focused workforce in general?


Self-Coaching and the Future of Coaching Cultures

As to the role that self-coaching plays in the development of strong coaching cultures:

  • Today it is non-existent.
  • In the not-too-distant future, I see self-coaching being a foundational and integral component and even potentially included in the HCI/ICF definition and assessment of coaching cultures.

Call to Experiment

So, however you define it, I encourage you to experiment with self-coaching in any coaching culture work that you are doing.

Join me in pioneering this powerful shift that will help many more organizations improve employee engagement and financial results through achieving a strong coaching culture.

Coach Your Self Up Development Program

I launched this program ( in the fall of 2014 and have had great results with several corporate clients here in the Bay Area. I’m encouraged by the super strong participant feedback.

For example, 94%(!) of participants to date have expressed an intention to use self-coaching skills throughout their careers. Also, 80%+ believe they are (a) making better decisions about their behaviors and actions, (b) improving their ability to maintain focused attention, and (c) improving their overall effectiveness at work.

This has me inspired that self-coaching can play a huge role in helping people become more conscious and unlock more of their potential.

As with any new idea, self-coaching will take time to gain traction. More and more forward-thinking companies will pioneer this concept. As the value becomes clearer and word of mouth starts to spread, self-coaching will become more prevalent as a key lever that organizations will pull on many fronts, including building coaching cultures.

Your Comments and Questions – Let’s Talk

I’d love to hear your comments or questions about self-coaching. I’m excited to bring these ideas forward and work with organizations that see the value of having coaching skills permeate the organization.

You can reach me at or sign up for my email newsletter on my website at I’d welcome the opportunity to have a complimentary exploratory discussion with you and any others on your team that would like to learn more about self-coaching and how it might serve your organization.