02 March 2021

The importance of having a coaching culture in times of uncertainty


The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that firms are facing an ever-changing landscape and an uncertain future. The adoption of a coaching culture is not something that we should turn to when we are less busy and have greater certainty; it is powerful in enhancing effective delivery now.

Building and Maintaining Rapport

Our ability to work successfully with uncertainty is enhanced by how much certainty and trust we build through rapport with those around us. We suggest sharing individual stories of how current concerns are being addressed, and explicit recognition of the uncertainties that we face in our work and wider lives. Aim to build rapport with your colleagues by acknowledging vulnerability.

Involving Everyone

For teams, inviting all team-members to participate at an early stage in meetings, encourages engagement and further involvement as the meeting progresses. Participants receive a positive endorsement of their value. Doing this also helps to confirm the purpose of the meeting. 


Note that in times of change you may be less sensitive to changes in your colleagues’ behaviour. This could be because your brain is pre-occupied dealing with your uncertainties, or because what is available to sense your colleagues behaviour is restricted – compare what you can sense on a video call compared to an audio call.  

An option for teams is to work with an experienced facilitator or team coach who can observe individual and group dynamics, providing valuable observations on perceived engagement and mood, and concentrate on opportunities that may be missed or glossed over by teams focused on the immediate conversation.


We spend more time listening than we do on any other activity. However, the biggest common frustration is that people don’t listen well enough. Having a heightened awareness of the way we listen can lead to deeper listening and help us to achieve a greater understanding of our colleagues and our clients. In the current climate, being able to listen with empathy is perhaps the most important skill that we should develop.  

Acknowledging and Summarising

Acknowledging and summarising team-members’ contributions can be extremely valuable in building team effectiveness. As well as recognising the intrinsic value of participation, acknowledgement encourages others to suggest enhancements or make their own contribution. Summarising what has been heard confirms the accuracy of the teams’ understanding of what has been said. A summary also acts as a further trigger to related thinking and development of new thoughts.


Coaching practice places strong emphasis on being curious about what is going on and the skilled use of questions to increase awareness. Questioning can be used to confirm, modify or deny assumptions, to improve understanding. These confirmations are valuable in avoiding inappropriate responses to uncertainty.  


Taking time to reflect, acts as a counterbalance to panic and heightened stress at times of uncertainty. When we reflect, we use more brain’s capacity to generate potential solutions, as demonstrated by new thinking that emerges after a night’s sleep. Reflection also offers us greater calm by reducing stress hormones including cortisol and increasing the production of beneficial chemicals such as oxytocin which has been shown to reduce anxiety and build trust, and dopamine which can increase motivation.  

A coaching culture champions openness and psychological safety.  It has benefits for successfully navigating periods of uncertainty and change. It also helps to foster high-performing teams in the long-run.

For the full article see here.

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