A Golden Opportunity– Making Coaching A Catalyst For Africa’s Growth.
Iread a Euromonitor International Report in March this year, which identified the Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2021. It stated that the COVID19 pandemic had “created, influenced or accelerated each of the 10 trends, forever altering consumer behaviour” post the pandemic. Of the identified trends which include, “Craving convenience”, “Outdoor Oasis”, “Build Back Better”, “Physical Reality”, and six others, the “Build Back Better” trend is what struck me the most. This trend offers the world a ‘second chance to create a better future because “Consumers demand that companies care beyond revenue, and they no longer perceive businesses as profit-driven entities. Protecting the health and interest of society and the planet is the new expectation, to Build Back Better. Companies should help reshape the world more sustainably, leading a shift from a volume- to a value-driven economy and turning the tide on social inequity and environmental damage… Therefore, consumers will help Build Back Better by seeking brands that help make the world cleaner, healthier, more resilient, and equitable”.
Whilst this report focused on brands and private companies, I will discuss it in a context that includes companies, individuals, teams, countries, governments, and our African leaders.
I see the “Build Back Better” trend as a golden opportunity for Africa as we slowly drive towards the post covid era. It offers us a second chance to create the future we want, to build the Africa we want. How do we achieve this? I have said in the past that success is deeply rooted in mindset.
‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’, please read ‘As a continent believes in its heart, so it is.’ What do we believe about ourselves? As countries, as businesses, as communities, as individuals? What should we believe about ourselves? Should we be servant to the lender for eternity? Here we have a window to build back better, to create a new Africa, not by might nor by power but by thinking differently. The coaching of leaders, teams, communities, groups, individuals, entrepreneurs, and more should be the new weapon to create new ways of thinking, to ignite new ideas, to torch creativity, to shift perspectives which will lead us to build back better.
I see the increased use of coaching services as one of the most powerful tools that will ignite Africa’s renaissance. Coaching is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and in the USA alone the estimated size of the coaching industry in 2022 will be US$20 billion. Yes, similar growth on the African continent will create a value-adding industry to Africa’s economy but more importantly it will unlock new ideas, new solutions, new learning, new insights to transform and transport the continent to its rightful place on the world stage.
History records that Africa has been a recipient of foreign aid for years and the undisputed fact is that the aid as currently practiced has failed to get Africa out of the poverty quagmire. At the same time, there is no doubt that the continent has derived some benefits from foreign aid.
The purpose of this article is not to debate the pros and cons of foreign aid but rather to point out that Africa needs much more than just foreign aid. It needs game-changers and I am postulating that a potential game-changer is coaching and yes, throw in mentoring whilst we are there.
The purpose of this article is not to debate the pros and cons of foreign aid but rather to point out that Africa needs much more than just foreign aid. It needs game-changers and I am postulating that a potential gamechanger is coaching and yes, throw in mentoring whilst we are there.
What is coaching? The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”. It’s an interactive process that is thought-provoking, creative, leads to results, and brings about change. I have said in the past that the mind is the greatest power in all of creation and coaching is the tool that draws out the best from every client. Good coaches’ partner with their clients to create a safe and supportive environment that allows the client to go deep inside to draw something they didn’t even know was there. The more they engage in the coaching process the greater they develop their capacity to do bigger and better things and to face challenges confidently. I say clients “grow broader shoulders”, “build muscle” with each successive achievement.
In any coaching conversation, the starting point must be clarity around what the goal of the conversation is. In other words, creating clarity in the client’s mind about what they want to achieve. What does success look like? What is the measure of success? How will the client know when they have gotten there? This is important because it is the client who is familiar with their destination and therefore must ensure that the conversation sets sail headed in the right direction.
A critical success factor in the coaching process is for the coach to understand the client within their context which may include, identity, environment, values, beliefs, history, expectations. The African leaders, be they in commerce, government, or elsewhere, understand their environment and history better than anyone else and a good coach will be able to understand and help them within their context. Also, a good coach listens actively to what the client wants and is expressing whether clearly or not so clearly. Why is this important? It is important because the client is always best placed to find a solution to any issue bedevilling them. They know their context, they understand their environment, they understand their history, they feel the expectations that rest upon them, and can therefore create solutions based on who they are and their context.
The coach’s crucial role is to help them to draw those solutions that lie within them. Hear me, Africa, you have the solutions within you.
How can this be achieved? A powerful tool the coach possesses is the ability to ask questions that help the client to explore beyond their current environment. This enables clients to help build back better by seeing the future clearly on the screen of their minds. By imagining what is possible, clients can visualise a new tomorrow, they can see what they, their companies, their countries, will look like on the screen of their minds. A new tomorrow that will get them from where they are, individually, or as teams, or groups, or societies, or as countries, to where they want to be. The clients will be able to see what a ‘built back better’ society will look like.
Once the client has a clear picture of what the future looks like, in their context, they can begin to convert that picture into reality. We know that we think in pictures and the clearer the mental picture is the easier it will be to convert it into a ‘thing’.
The most important function of a coach is then to partner with the client to transform the learning and insight into action. This is where the coach partners with the client to design goals, actions, and accountability measures that move the client towards the achievement of
The most important function of a coach is then to partner with the client to transform the learning and insight into action. This is where the coach partners with the client to design goals, actions, and accountability measures that move the client towards the achievement of their goals and desires.
their goals and desires. It is at this stage that the issues such as foreign aid come into play. To move forward, the client must now consider resources, support, and potential barriers. The critical point to note at this stage is that it is the client who has come up with solutions, not the coach. The coach’s role is to draw or pull out the solutions from within the client. This is important because we have a higher chance of solving our problems when we align our goals to the solutions we have created.
It is important to note that coaching is a process that can be used to address diverse situations and environments and this list is by no means exhaustive. For example, leadership coaching can be targeted at leaders in companies, government, non-profit organisations, and others based on the needs of the entities.
How does this help Africa to build back better? With heightened self-awareness, increased confidence, better management, and developmental skills, leaders will be able
Similarly, success in Africa’s development will be associated with great coaches whose role will be to unlock the raw capabilities seating within each one of us. Africa can move from mediocre to great and when not if this happens, we will be well-positioned to build back better and to create the Africa we want.
to deal with challenges more confidently and more decisively having explored multiple perspectives in the process of creating solutions. When coaching becomes embedded as a culture at a personal, team, group, leadership level it will create a higher calibre of leaders. In much the same way that people across the globe associate sportsperson’s success with good coaching. The amazing success of the greatest Olympians, the greatest footballers, the greatest basketball players, the greatest sportspersons is attributed to great coaching. Yes, the individuals have the raw talent, but for them to move from good to great they get shaped by great coaches, who unlock their talent for a display to the world. Similarly, success in Africa’s development will be associated with great coaches whose role will be to unlock the raw capabilities seating within each one of us. Africa can move from mediocre to great and when not if this happens, we will be well-positioned to build back better and to create the Africa we want.
Africa is at a crossroads, we can choose to have our main focus be on foreign aid and foreign investments as the vehicle out of poverty and misery or we can focus on developing the human resource which, I dare say, we have in abundance. That’s not to say foreign aid and foreign investment are not important, of course, they have their place, but the exact nature must be the result of the implementation of identified goals and actions which form part of our roadmap to move forward.
Let us work together to build back better to create a better future for Africa, our home.