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  • Writer's pictureMagali Depras

How can Coaching help you succeed in your sustainability journey?

When I launched my consulting practice in Sustainability, I immediately thought of taking a coaching course in parallel to acquire the necessary tools and expertise. The complementary nature of these activities seemed obvious to me. But why? What did coaching have to do with consulting?

Well, during my years in corporations, I have experienced many situations in which executives or managers have to make major decisions that can have an impact not only on their company, but also on their career. It can be difficult to seek advice internally, and you may feel isolated. Fear of failure. Fear of what others will think of you. The further you advance, the more exposed you become.

When can coaching help?

Whether it is a newly promoted manager who needs to establish his or her leadership and think about the best way to lead his or her team and achieve objectives. Or a sustainability manager trying to convince his or her management team that the company needs to embark on a decarbonization journey among a myriad of other priorities. Or an executive who has a conflict with a colleague and does not know how to resolve it. Or a manager who is disappointed not to have received the promotion he or she had hoped for, and who is questioning himself or herself...

The list of such situations is long, and each of us has experienced at least one during his or her career. When it comes to sustainable development in particular, executives in charge of these issues face a number of challenges:

- Convincing their management team of the merits of their approach

- Advancing a particular idea

- Obtaining the necessary budgets

- Aligning teams around a common vision and strategy

- Setting ambitious, measurable objectives

- Initiate a transformation process

- Achieve results quickly

How can coaching complement the consulting approach?

Let's take Marc's example. He is responsible for public affairs at his company and has inherited the Sustainability file. Marc would like the support of a consultant to help him launch his company's sustainability process. This will include a diagnosis of the situation, a benchmark against industry players and a survey of key stakeholders to understand the material issues on which the company should focus its efforts. The consultant will help Marc see things more clearly, and will provide him with factual elements so that he can present the conclusions to his management committee.

But that is not enough. Marc is anxious to present these results. He knows that the management committee is not aligned behind the need to embark on a sustainability approach. He does not know if he will be able to get his message across effectively. He is afraid of failing and needs help to develop his action plan. This is precisely the kind of situation where a coach can help!

The coach will partner with the manager and help him or her tackle the different situations he or she is confronted with, in order to achieve better results more quickly.

In Marc's case, he will share with his coach his point of view on his situation, the issues he needs to resolve, the objectives he is pursuing, and together they will explore the possibilities and examine the best strategies.

The coach's role is to show what is missing to succeed, to go further, to be more effective, to overcome difficulties more easily. The coach will bring out the means and actions needed to respond to situations more quickly and effectively.

Thanks to his or her coach, Marc will be better equipped to take his case forward. He will gain self-confidence, articulate a clear strategy for his company and establish his leadership in his new role.

What is the difference between consulting and coaching?

In the case of consulting services, the consultant carries out tasks delegated to him/her by the customer. Speaking of sustainable development, this can range from upstream company diagnostics, through strategy development, to performance measurement and downstream reporting. The customer will engage the consultant either because he/she lacks the expertise or the in-house resources to carry out this work.

A coach will act as a partner to his/her customer. The setting of goals and a personal action plan is the client's responsibility. Although a coach provides feedback and helps his or her client set solid professional or personal goals, it is the client who remains responsible for doing what it takes to achieve the results he or she desires. The coach accompanies, helps move forward, and may even challenge his or her client. But the customer remains in control of his or her own roadmap.

In conclusion, consulting and coaching work perfectly well within the framework of a coordinated, integrated approach. While the consultant works on specific elements of the company's Sustainability strategy and roadmap, the coach works with the client to help them develop in their role, optimally address the challenges they face and achieve better personal and professional results.

Would you like to find out more? Contact me here to book a 30-minute exploratory session.

Yours Sustainably,

Magali Depras

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