Self-Coaching as a Path to Continuous Learning and Problem Solving

How do we find solutions to difficult situations we encounter in the workplace? One strategy is to do nothing and hope that a problem goes away or gets resolved on its own. You know, with the help of a magic wand. Or, better, we use the context and our experience to muddle through and maybe figure out how to make some improvements, and then move on to other items demanding our attention. Sometimes we need more—a bit of guidance to work through the situation and come out on the other side feeling a sense of accomplishment as a result of our efforts to understand an issue (not always simple!), determine the best course of action, and successfully execute it.

“Self-Coaching Strategies for Nonprofit Leaders,” published recently on the Nonprofit Quarterly website and based on the article “Strategic Nonprofit Management: Frameworks and Scaffolding”* in the Spring 2016 issue of the journal, outlines “just-in-time” methods for dealing with workplace leadership and management challenges. The authors, non-profit consultants at the Community Resource Exchange, present five brief case studies along with specific recommendations for reframing to uncover new perspectives and potential solutions, using “1-2-3 steps” to start quickly on the path to change by addressing the easier aspects of the situation, and consulting other tools and resources to support problem-solving.

The scenarios presented in the web article explore common leadership and management challenges—individual staff member performance; inadequate infrastructure; balancing differences between work teams; personal leadership styles and abilities; and burnout. I bet you’ve experienced one or two of these types of challenges in your work life, and dealt with them with varying degrees of success. I also bet you’ll revisit similar situations in the future.

What can you take away from the self-coaching strategies described in the article so that, going forward, you can address challenges in a more thoughtful, systematic, and fruitful way?

It will still be a process to find solutions to the not-always-perfect state of affairs on your team or in your department/organization, but having an arsenal of approaches and resources at your disposal should give you the tools to work through tough challenges, as well as continue to learn from those experiences that require our best leadership and management expertise and efforts.

*The Nonprofit Quarterly article is adapted from Meeting the Job Challenges of Nonprofit Leaders: A Fieldbook on Strategies and Action, published by the Center for Creative Leadership (2015).

Carolyn Sosnowski

Carolyn J. Sosnowski, MLIS, is e-learning and content manager for PEAK Grantmaking. Follow her on Twitter @TheRealCarolynS.