- You are greeted with genuine warmth and interest
- You notice you are asked what you think rather than told what to do
- You are given space to create and design, to express, reflect, and consider your thoughts
- You set goals – personally and as an organization
- You experience subtle and not-so-subtle forms of recognition and celebration of your successes – big and small
- Your mistakes are framed as opportunities for further learning and are encouraged as part of “the process”
This is every day. Welcome to our coaching-based organization, Future Possibilities for Kids (FPK).
At FPK, we purposefully weave a coaching philosophy into all that we do – from crafting an email to facilitating training at the front of the room. We believe that, “what we pay attention to, grows.” So what does this mean, exactly?
In your organization, where your focus, time, and energy is spent is where you are likely to see the most development. Coaching is an opportunity to invite discovery, decision-making, and accountability into a space by bringing attention to the areas you would like to change or improve in some way. Through coaching, space is created for others to join the conversation rather than just being told or directed what to do. Inviting others to share in decision-making processes and project design will result in higher engagement and others being lifted up because they feel valued, trusted, accountable, challenged, and aware of their growth.
By listening deeply to what others are (or are not) saying, asking questions to amplify discovery and understanding, and genuinely acknowledging one’s progress, you are communicating non-judgmental support and providing a nudge to take action towards the established goal.
Where do we pay attention at FPK? We focus on our people. Embracing a coaching-based philosophy in our organization and with our staff enables us to devote our time and effort towards developing agency within others. Ultimately, we can continue building leadership and life skills within our children and our communities.
Our coaching programs are provided for children in their middle years, ages 9 to 12, from underserved communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Kids are matched with encouraging adult KidCoaches who coach them towards achieving a community service project, while they build their confidence and leadership. KidCoaches are also coached during the program by Crew Captains, seasoned volunteers who provide a safe and open space to learn and grow. The whole program community is coached by the staff team.
This wrap-around support creates experiences like the ones described below, as expressed from the lens of a:
- Kid – “It made me come out of my shell and taught me to look at things with a different perspective. I feel as though I have brought my community closer to each other.”
- KidCoach – “I always learn something new and it is great to learn that others share the challenges I have. It helps me to try new strategies and increase my belief in my abilities.”
- Crew Captain – “It’s wonderful to see how willing everyone is to step up and be flexible even if it’s not directly helping their child. It truly feels like one giant team.”
- Staff – “This type of environment has allowed me to feel supported during moments where I am being stretched and challenged in both new and daunting circumstances. I have been encouraged and trusted to find my own solutions and embrace risk.”
These comments reflect common themes experienced by all the members of the FPK ‘family.’ We have noticed that coaching leads to an environment that is more open, safe and that facilitates growth. This is our experience, which might be different for you, but we do believe there will be positive change.
What can you do to begin promoting a coaching culture within your organization? Embrace the building blocks of coaching. We believe this includes 3 main pillars: listening, questioning and acknowledging.
- When you actively listen, without interrupting and with genuine interest in what others are saying, you are communicating that you care. This builds trust and rapport, and allows you to learn more about where others are coming from.
- Through powerful questions, coming from a place of curiosity, you get beyond what’s on the surface to the rich and deep layers beneath, where a person’s true self can be found.
- When you genuinely acknowledge another person, you go beyond compliments and flattery to shine light on something they can really value within themselves and they feel heard and validated.
We find that Kids and volunteers are coming to us at a transitional stage in their lives, and through coaching, they are often able to take that step – new job, new relationship, life change – because through these coaching pillars, they are more attuned to themselves and have courage and confidence to really go for what they want.
If you want a platform to put your coaching skills into action, consider joining FPK as a KidCoach volunteer. This is a unique opportunity to coach a Kid one-on-one to support their achievement of a community service project. You will be trained in coaching skills, creative thinking, and stronger communications. 92% of KidCoaches say they use the skills learned in other areas of their lives. As an organization, we are stretching to our biggest program year ever – join and grow with us!
“What we pay attention to, grows.”
Coaching will help you bring focus for your teammates to the areas that they want to build upon to continue to grow and succeed. We invite you to take this learning with you and apply it where you see opportunities. Good luck! It’s up to you now.
Nicole Thibideau is the Director, Program & Operations at Future Possibilities for Kids and is trained as a Life and Wellness Coach. When not being inspired by children and connecting with volunteers, Nicole is likely to be found travelling with her husband, mentoring others with Type 1 Diabetes or hiking through nature.
Rickesh Lakhani is the Executive Director at Future Possibilities for Kids. Prior to this, Rickesh was the Director, Campaign at United Way of York Region, leading an $8M annual fundraising campaign. He enjoys camping, drumming and being a big kid with his 3 young children.
Future Possibilities for Kids provides Kid-led, coaching-based leadership programs for children in their middle years (9 to 12) from underserved communities in the Greater Toronto Area.