Coaching’s Ripple Effect in Education and Research
Pro bono coaching, provided through the ICF Foundation’s Ignite initiative, seeks to create a ripple effect of positive impact on social change for education. Projects that were implemented during 2018 invested resources of time, people, energy, and financial support, ultimately reaching over 3 million people. One such project was conducted by ICF Costa Rico. The success of the coaching speaks to the strength and scope of the Ignite initiative.
Coachee Andres Segura-Castillo was involved with the Ignite opportunity in Costa Rica for six months during 2018. As a manager and researcher at Universidad Estatal A Distancia (Distance State University), Andres works with five colleagues and twelve students. The focus of their work is on Innovation and Research in Environmental Sciences, Educational Technology, and Technology Applied to Social Studies.
“I have always had a lot of freedom in the work I do, and in the way I manage the lab,” says Andres. “My main priority has always been to promote innovation and new technology.” However, according to Andres, changes in the environment, politics and climate have impacted the university’s culture and organization.
Andres has concluded that, “Leaders like myself need to keep an open-minded attitude and not be too attached to the traditional ways of doing things.” In the past, most funding for the university has come from the state, and Andres points out that now, “It’s critical to be more open to collaborating with the business sector and other third-party partners.”
When the coaching began in May 2018, Andres was hoping to gain a clear direction and different perspective of his role as a manager; he wasn’t sure he was delivering his best. These goals were important to Andres because the university was facing issues around sustainability, that is the ability to continue to compete at high levels. He believed that the culture needed to be nurtured and needed to engage employees in improving quality.
The coaching sessions for Andres were set up for eight sessions to occur online over a sixth month period ending in November 2018. According to Andres, the impact of the coaching went beyond the change of perspective. “It changed my life. I realize now that even though I had been well trained and had a post-graduate degree, I did not understand how to manage people.” Now Andres manages people in a more sympathetic way conveying unity and vision.
Additionally, Andres, a musician, began to bring personal parts of himself into his work. “The musical side of me is essential to the way I see the world.” Andres decided to approach his management style as an Awá—an indigenous word of the Costa Rican Bribri tribe for a leader in the community who uses music to heal people. He sees his colleagues as an orchestra, he is the conductor, and listening is like music. “There is a rhythm to managing people, and I have to be mindful of the tonality to turn my ear behind the words,” he says. This has led to increased unity and open collaboration in the lab.
The impact of this change in his approach has been significant for both himself and the lab.
For Andres, he:
- Has delegated project management to others
- Is no longer overwhelmed and has been able to trust colleagues and delegate work
- Has reduced the amount of time spent managing projects, saving 10 hours a week and allowing him to do other work that helps the organization
- Published two new papers
- Has opened more collaboration with businesses
For the lab, the impact includes:
- Three new projects
- $25,000 additional funds and new equipment
- A shift from 100% dependency on government to increased collaboration with businesses
- The hiring of more experienced professionals, which ensures that the lab can compete at a higher quality level
A partnership between the ICF Foundation and Lisa Ann Edwards has allowed Ignite to monitor the success of these initiatives and determine the extent of the return on investment. This is accomplished by gathering survey results, interviewing participants, including Andres, and aggregating data.