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Columbia Coaching Conference

Five Learnings from the Columbia Coaching Conference:

1. Culture is driven by relationships; relationships are driven by conversations.

The ripple effect of how we talk to our colleagues each day drives the quality of our medium-term relationships. Those relationships, in turn, contribute to the overall organizational culture. The premise is logical, but it’s hard to put into practice. So, take it day by day.

2. To improve the system, you must understand it.​

Perhaps, we’re moving away from a leader-centric approach to coaching. In a forward-thinking coaching style, the team, the system and the culture are all addressed collectively since leaders don’t lead in a bubble. If we don’t appreciate how these external forces impact the leader and how it drives their behaviors, we miss the point. Context is key.

3. Cortisol is the brain’s brakes. Oxytocin is the brain’s accelerator.

Simply put, cortisol slows connection, oxytocin speeds it up. There’s so much more to learn about neuroscience and leadership, but until we get there, this basic principle is a good place to start. How can we create more oxytocin reactions in the people around us to develop trust and build good working alliances? Keynote speaker Judith Glaser has some good ideas. I’d also recommend The Leading Brain by Fabritius & Hagemann.

4. AI will augment—not replace—coaching.

If the coaching industry views AI as supplemental and complementary, it can seize opportunities to automate routine, repetitive tasks plus deliver greater value to clients. Coaches can shape the future instead of being shaped by it.

5. The space between the notes is sometimes as important as the notes themselves.

We don’t need to be “on” 24-7. Creating the space for reflection and learning, encouragement during tough times or a soft place to land when things go wrong, is as important as constantly driving toward goals. Yes, Marshall Goldsmith was amazing and inspiring, but sometimes we just need a hug from the dog. It’s an equal and essential part of being human.


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