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Leading change in a VUCA world – ahead of the Berlin Change Days Conference

I’m in Berlin to facilitate a workshop at the 2017 Berlin Change Days Conference that has the theme: Power and Trust- Leading Change in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from and contribute to this flourishing community of organisational change agents – facilitators, coaches, leaders and People and Culture professionals.

My session on Creating a Coaching Culture will explore how organisations can embed a peer coaching ethos that provides the scaffolding for leaders navigating change. Having grown a thriving executive coaching and leadership development practice for 14 years, I’ve recently joined Human Capital International (HCI) as the first female director – gaining access to a broader capability offered in the nexus of strategy execution, culture development and leadership.

At HCI, I’m committed to nurturing consciousness and creating coaching cultures that enable leaders to influence and engage organisations. While leaders, particularly at the most senior levels of organisations, value and invest in executive coaching, a disconnect happens as they get lost in “doing”. Under pressure to drive performance and innovate in a VUCA world, they default to a “telling” or advising style with their teams, rather than facilitating others’ capacity for reflection and insight. This has a two-fold negative effect: it undermines psychological safety, so their peers don’t feel trusted to offer ideas without fear of judgment, and it means the leader gets stuck with the weight of problem-solving.

Using peer coaching to create a coaching culture becomes paramount. By crafting a safe space for leaders to share their thoughts, test ideas, challenge beliefs and ask for and act on feedback from their peers, we can transform how organisations build capacity to manage the complex interplay of relational, personal, commercial and political issues that can derail performance and wellbeing.

I’m taking this thinking to my session at the Berlin Change Days conference and hope to challenge and tap into the experiences in the room. Ultimately, if we can build our capacity as change catalysts we can help embed trust and empower thriving organisations and communities to navigate a VUCA world.

Kerryn Velleman