News abounds daily about the increasing environmental pressures that our planet is facing: the pollution of our water systems, the contamination of the air we breathe, the tons of plastic that asphyxiate our oceans, and the alarming rate of biodiversity loss. All this can create states of anxiety amongst many of us. Ecological anxiety suitably refers to feelings of sadness, sorrow and distress at the current and future loss of our natural environment and the impacts of climate change.
In the face of these existential challenges, what is the role that coaching can play?
Typically, people come to coaching to change or improve aspects of their professional and personal lives. Coaching contains unique tools that help implement sustainable and authentic change within ourselves. It invites deep reflection and encourages healthy and challenging conversations to ensure meaningful growth.
When it comes to environmental and societal challenges, coaches can apply these precious skills in service of something greater, whilst fully respecting the agenda each client is bringing.
Coaching organisations are currently evolving and questioning their stand with regard to these key issues. This has led for instance to the creation in 2019 of the Climate Coaching Alliance that is gathering about 3000 coaches worldwide. One of its aims is to find ways to bring in the deep and difficult questions of ecological emergency into coaching conversations. The March 2023 CCA Festival gave access to worldwide speakers to collectively define the challenges and roles of climate conscious coaches.
On the corporate side, things are slowly evolving. According to the Deloitte 2023 CxO sustainability report, companies are feeling increasing pressure to act across stakeholder groups—from the board/management to customers to employees. Corporate leaders are in positions of authority over our planet’s health and companies are made up of networks of people, all of whom can play a role in influencing decisions that affect global ecosystems. The BCorp movement illustrates this trend as its corporate members “work toward a world where business is a force for good, and plays a leading role in positively impacting and transforming the global economy into a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative system”. Companies like Patagonia have taken the lead with its CEO boldly declaring: “We're in business to save the planet”. Leaders and change-makers, whose companies are transitioning towards a regenerative economy, will need support to accompany these radical shifts.
As sustainability is increasingly on the corporate agenda, it is therefore likely that coaching conversations and programmes will adapt to respond to these emerging needs. Stimulating and empowering conversations are more than ever vital to shift mindset, align values, and implement bold changes.
As its name indicates, Management Futures is ideally placed to reflect on the future of management and the qualities of modern sound leadership.
Perhaps the future of coaching is not about helping others be the best in the world, but rather helping them do good for the world. Coaching can therefore be a powerful catalyst towards responsibility, cooperation and inclusion for a more sustainable way of life.