Jay Colker: How Crowdsourced Coaching™ can enhance leadership development

Effective leadership development is often derailed by two significant forces that conflict and make it difficult to achieve the desired outcome.

The first is the power of the group process. Through group action-learning projects and enhanced work within teams, group participants can leverage the diversity of skills and experiences and often achieve innovative and creative outcomes.

Participants who share information openly about themselves, such as their strengths and development needs, gain useful feedback and in the process elevate their skills to new levels. Yet, there are limitations on what individuals may choose to share in a group, and organizational beliefs can sometimes minimize potential gains through the group process.

The second force is that development and performance overall are still often viewed as confidential to the individual.

Individuals move vertically and are concerned with personal superiority and prestige. They live with constant tension, fear and anxiety of falling down.

Some individuals are so focused on themselves they miss critical cues in the environment and, in the process, disconnect from others. These forces result in a leadership development process in which a cohort of committed individuals doesn’t share real work.

An effective approach to combating this is Crowdsourced Coaching™.

Build a foundation of trust

The discussion of best practices among leaders calibrates the group to be more in alignment and to work together as a catalyst for real change as challenges and issues emerge.

Individuals know good leadership when they see it and experience it.

It is not so much the knowing but the consistency of executing that is the most challenging aspect of leadership.

Theory is not what drives change but rather a commitment to action and enhancing critical behaviors in real time — based on experience, feedback and outcomes in the moment.

People learn best through relationships and discussions with trusted individuals.

Accountability and follow-through rises when an individual commits to one or more people. Shared responsibility for learning and change increases feelings of ownership and outcomes.

Examine the culture

Before implementing the Crowdsourced Coaching™ approach, senior leaders must look at the company’s culture. If perfection is expected and people are punished for mistakes, a broader change management initiative is likely required.

Employees won’t open up in such a culture and key talent will likely leave when the opportunity arrives.

If the culture supports more engaged approaches, leaders at any level from the same division or across the company can join a group cohort of no more than eight to 10 people using a Crowdsourced Coaching™ process. A facilitator other than the boss can help the group establish a trusting relationship, a willingness to discuss real work challenges and consider crowdsourced solutions.

The group must invest time — for example, two hours every two weeks — and be willing to share real issues. It can take 90 minutes or more to review a single issue that a participant is experiencing. Often, many of the other participants have similar concerns, or will in the future — and solutions for one lead to enhanced leadership knowledge for all.

I have used Crowdsourced Coaching™ approaches for almost 20 years across many industries. I have seen significant changes at the individual, team and organizational levels. Just as a pebble creates movement in the water, crowdsourced approaches can create ripples of positive change that have long-lasting impact.

Jay Colker, DM, MBA, MA is core faculty for the master’s in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Colker also maintains a human capital consulting practice and may be reached at [email protected] or (312) 213-3421. For more information on Crowdsourced Coaching™, please visit www.crowdsourcedcoaching.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaycolker