There’s significant discussion about “transformation,” specifically, cultural transformation.

I regularly consult with clients and they ask for the “Cultural Transformation” magic bullet. Firstly, I politely remind them that there’s no magic bullet. Then, I tell them that I can facilitate the transformation, but they have to do “the work” themselves. If they don’t own it, the changes won’t be sustainable.

There are three key elements to transformation: Passion, Behavioral Shift, and Process Improvement. I liken these to a three-legged stool — you break one leg and the stool falls over. The change will not happen unless you have all three elements working in harmony.


So if we talk about the first element, Passion, what does it take to get this?

One might assume that if people or an individual person wants some level of change, the passion’s already there. This could be true, but if people have been told by others they must initiate a transformation, then they may not necessarily have the passion for it. However, we can improve peoples’ passion through better understanding, authenticity, and coaching their energy. Leaders with greater energy will be more powerful and passionate about what they do.


So what about behavioral shift? This can also be easily coached, assuming people (for example, your employees or teammates) want to be coached on it. The great global coaching guru, Marshall C. Goldsmith, is a master at this. This is amply covered in a number of his books, including the most famous one — What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There. However, clients must “want” to be coached in this area.

Coaching is about “Pull” not “Push“.

Clients must desire to be coached, and “pull” the coaching. This is particularly pertinent in the area of a behavioral shift. Nobody with inappropriate behavior wants to be judged on their behavior, so this really takes some insight, and in certain cases, stiff feedback from others. Marshall advocates the use of a structured 360 feedback in this area.


Finally, we need to think about the third leg of the stool. This is about  “Process Improvement,” whether it be a business process or a physical process. We can have all the passion and behavioral shifts in the world, but without a shift in our processes, we will not transform ourselves or organizations.

This is the tangible or visible work, which is sometimes attributed to the processing and logical part of our brain. So, how do we coach for this? This is where we engage, raise the awareness of the individual or team, and guide them down a path toward valuing process improvement. This is where coaching and consulting overlap.

I quite often find that my “Lean” approach helps a lot here. However, I do ask for permission to “consult” while coaching, so as not to devalue the coaching in any way. If we’re able to help clients achieve process improvement, it’s a major step forward, but also involves a lot of work.

I also use a lot of metaphors in this process to help clients build connections between ideas and concepts. This is extremely powerful because it aids self-facilitation and plants “seeds” within clients. Seed planting’s also very powerful because it triggers self-reflection. My most successful clients are capable of building bridges and connections.

I liken it to cross or strut bracing in construction. The more connections or braces a bridge has, the stronger and ultimately more sustainable a bridge will be. Conversely, the less connections, the more likelihood of failure.

I talked about energy earlier, and not only does improved energy help create passion, but it helps us see links and connections that we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.

If things are working properly, we will have left and right “brains” working in total harmony. Everything needs to be connected to work effectively.

So, it’s your turn to sit on the stool. What are some of your proven processes for better leadership as well as building connections? Transformation awaits!