I was inspired to train as a coach through having a truly inspirational coach myself. But before I talk more about that, I think it is important to share why I had a coach. I was lucky enough to work closely for many years with a truly inspirational leader, Sacha Romanovitch, and listened to her views on the importance of a coaching culture at organisations. It was clear that she had really valued having a coach and that, as well as her passion for enabling others to realise their potential, led her to become a qualified coach. I then started noticing other great leaders making reference to having a coach (you know how it is, once you hear about something, you then particularly notice when people talk about it) and it was clear to me that many great leaders have coaches. I had previously mistakenly thought that people only had coaches if they had ‘issues’ to resolve!
I therefore found myself a coach (another inspirational leader, Simon Bevan) and having the time and space on a regular basis to sit down and talk to him about the goals I was grappling with gave me a safety valve; I knew there was somebody I could talk through issues with and that I would have the time and space in a busy week to do so. Those sessions were sacrosanct in my diary; to coin a phrase, it was my ‘me time’ when I could focus on what would make me a better leader. My coach never strayed from the coaching path, ie asking me questions, making me think but never giving me the answer. One of the greatest tenets in coaching is that all coachees have the answers within them and the coach needs to help them find those answers; if someone else gives you the solutions, you are far less likely to own them. So the coach’s role is to help the coachee find the answers, giving them the opportunity to do so. One thing I quickly found on my coaching journey was the power of silence and that it was fine to sit and think; this was both as a coach and coachee. As the coachee, saying you don’t know and then quickly moving on won’t get you to the answer but taking the time to think, along with the coach asking questions will get you to an answer. As a coach, particularly if you are used to providing answers, learning that silence can indeed be golden is a good leadership lesson.
Coaches have coach supervisors; this is a bit like CPD. Having these supervision sessions are vital; it gives the coach opportunities to develop their coaching skills which enables you to become an even better coach and, if you have coaching supervision in groups of three or four coaches, you gain access to a much wider group of examples of what works in practice and how to tackle difficult situations. It also helps you become a better leader partly because you are constantly up-skilling.
As we all grapple with new ways of working and the challenges that Covid have brought to many organisations, if you haven’t thought about coaching before, perhaps now is an excellent time to think about it; both from an entire organisation perspective (so developing a coaching culture) or finding yourself a coach or training as a coach. A strong coaching culture is often associated with high performing entities as well as successes at making considerable strategic change; clearly a challenge for many organisations right now. It involves spreading a coaching mindset and practices throughout the organisation so that coaching becomes a key part of the company’s identity. It improves interactions both within the organisation and externally.
In the new hybrid world, command and control management and leadership is no longer tenable; in my view it was actually dead in the water a long time ago.
I said the other day that coaching is in my top three of the things I like doing best at work; my children though often say to me ‘you have gone into coaching mode’ so I guess that I do it at home too! However what is equally good is being coached and as I said earlier, those hours spent with my coach are some of the most valuable I have ever spent.
This article will also appear on Charity Finance Group’s new online Knowledge Hub, launching soon.