Guiding Sustainable Community Change- An Introduction to the Practice of Coaching

Communities, like people, need to grow out of their problems. To do so, community members learn to see issues and concerns from a broader perspective and as an opportunity to learn from one another and expand their options. Thus, the work of a community coach is to help people get out of their ruts, to stop sharing their rut stories and replace them with river stories. Leadership development coaching for communities means offering an empathetic ear, finding the coachable moments, and engaging in joint learning through leadership development activities. Coaches are not the answer people; they support capacity building by helping community members learn from one another and from their own experiences.

Leadership Development Coaching

These coaches approach their task with an eye to the hoped for ripple effect of their work in capacity building; they strive for the time when the synergy of coaching and capacity building becomes part of the community's way of learning together. They hope to see individual capacity gains reflected in those of the team and subsequently in the community. The successful coach models this synergy between individual change and community change by looking forward to new learning from every new encounter with the community and the team. Thus, coaches ready to succeed focus on expanding their own understanding and their reservoir of resources as they work with others to increase the capacity of participants and the overall community.

Coaching is both an art and a craft. Coaches succeed in communities because of their respect for the implicit wisdom emerging from local people and their belief in human and community agency. Each community is unique, and each community must discover and nurture that uniqueness as they build capacity and get things done. Community coaches work with local leaders and social change organizations. Working with a coach is a strategy to set goals, take action, make better decisions and develop natural strengths. Successful coaches focus on outcomes, but not at the expense of the process. They are attuned to the need for balance.

Coaching has been provided in over 250 communities in at least 37 states, Brazil and the U.K. Communities in Australia are using community coaching as well.

The following set of publications describe the approaches and values in Community Leadership Development Coaching:

New Field Guide to Community Coaching

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