Field Guide for Community Change

Coaching Change in Communities

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.

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. Internationally, communities in Australia, Brazil, Jamaica, Sweden, and the U. K. are using community coaching as well.


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Top Picture Credit:   Ken Hubbell: Be Like Water: Ripple - Oil on Canvas (2016)