Foundations for leaders in a DEI culture – leverage good coaching skills

“The measure of a (person) is not where (they) stand in moments of comfort, but where (they) stand in times of challenge.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.


Creating a culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is work most organizations have been striving to realize for decades. While challenging, this is some of the most important work we will ever do. As we reflect on this new year and all the challenges we face, we want to keep this one in the forefront. As an organization that knows the power of coaching, we believe leaders working to build a culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can leverage some key coaching skills toward this goal.


We’ll dive into 5 key skills today.


Skill 1: Self-knowledge

Often times when someone comes to coaching, it’s because they have a feeling that something needs to change. Effective Coaches will often help the client increase their self-knowledge.


Sometimes leaders come to coaching with a deep understanding of themselves, and other times leaders are just beginning the journey of recognizing their perspective and response to the mantel of leadership.  


Ask yourself: How can I support and develop Core Leaders in my organization to create opportunities for self-knowledge related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?


Skill 2: Willingness to be Challenged

Once one knows there is a change they want to make, a key factor to success is the willingness to be challenged.


When Coaches first meet with clients, they discuss how they will work together. A good Coach will forewarn someone they are coaching to expect to be challenged during the course of their time together.


Assess your Core Leaders: When you think of your Core Leaders, are they willing to have their thinking challenged related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? Are they able to stand in different perspectives?


Skill 3: Curiosity

Staying curious, genuinely curious, helps keep us out of judgment. Often times in organizations, we are expected to the have “the” answer, and it can feel uncomfortable not to “know.”


Coaches who are effective ask powerful questions. Powerful questions are ones that truly make people pause, reflect, and think deeply before answering.


Reflect: Are your Core Leaders curious about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? What are the questions you want to hear them asking?


Skill 4: Continuous Learning

When a person engages a Coach, new learning is expected. The individual has come to coaching with a desire to do something differently, which requires learning.


Coaches will often recommend resources to support new ways of thinking and offer new perspective. We can we do the same for leaders with regard to their DE&I learning. There are excellent books, podcasts, Ted Talks, etc.


Consider: What is preventing us from increasing our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion development and connecting with each other on what we are learning? How can we make this a regular part of a true learning culture?


Skill 5: Accountability

Leaders in organizations are quite accustomed to being accountable for their goals. Coaches will often ask someone in coaching about the actions they will be taking, and then follow-up. In coaching, the discussion of accountability is not about shame if an action wasn’t achieved, but to identify what got in the way of the client being able to complete their stated goal.


Look at yourself and organization: How are you hiring for, continuing to develop, and holding accountable the leaders in your organization to create the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion culture you want to be known for as an employer, a partner to your clients, and the community?


Overall, a good Coach supports someone and helps them make the change they desire sustainable. Just like building any other muscle, these are skills leaders must work on regularly to establish a true culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


“Do the best you can until you know better, and then when you know better, do better.”

– Maya Angelou


About the Author:

Heidi joined Coaching Right Now in 2016 as an Account Executive. Heidi brings over 25 years of experience leading learning and shared services teams in large financial and manufacturing organizations. She is also a certified executive and leadership Coach (CPCC, ACC).