“If only I had known this stuff years ago…”
I often hear that from my clients. Looking back on the 24/7 ‘Monday morning feeling’ of my early leadership and corporate career, it’s a feeling I know well.
Knowing what you don’t know
I still remember the feeling of dread as I walked up the Euston Road, the knot in my stomach at being just ten minutes from my office. I knew what the outcome of the meeting would be already….and it wasn’t pretty. The patients would still be safe, the world famous Teaching Hospital would still be in budget, the staff would still be motivated. But I would be facing the globally renowned surgeon-professor – and no-one was better at making me feel like a terrible fraud as a leader.
I had been promoted to the Management Board world of multi million pound budgets in my mid-twenties. I understood the NHS: the politics, the systems, the procedures, strategies and finances. I dealt with bomb threats, royal visits, cost cutting demands, reorganisations and strikes.
All day long, staff would beat a path to my door in search of empathy, support, challenge and confidence-building. I was skilled at building positive relationships by being the “real me” – being authentic. But I knew that wasn’t enough to make me a brilliant leader. I needed to learn how to:
- Stand up to aggressive and domineering colleagues in a constructive way
- Give feedback about poor performance without feeling sick – and make sure what I said was taken on board
- Feel more in control in my dealings with senior staff – rather than feeling as if I was being told off by my dad
- Motivate valuable direct reports to ensure they delivered results in difficult circumstances
- Develop a range of leadership styles for different situations (instead of relying on being a “very nice person”)
- Prioritise what I did so that I didn’t end up working all weekend
- Help my team respect the fact that they each had unique strengths which were all equally valuable to the business
I had no master plan to acquire the skills and tools I so badly felt were missing. Like this old BT ad, I’d long been in search of my “Ology”, a career that would allow me to be an authentic, credible leader – able to truly enjoy my work and make a real difference to people in the corporate world. I just didn’t know what my Ology was.
I analysed what I had loved and hated about past roles. Armed with a blueprint against which I could assess new opportunities, I seized every development opportunity I could. I won new roles, took on projects to build my confidence and worked with inspirational people. I sought mentors, juggled an MBA with a full time job, put my hand up for every training course, workshop and leadership development experience on offer…provided they allowed me to be the “real me”.
Taking control of my career path was liberating – enjoyable even. The fact I still didn’t have a clue where the path was taking me was irrelevant!
Becoming the leader I wanted to be
Fast forward to my mid 30s and my experiences had led me to management consultancy within one of the world’s largest professional services firms.
Here I drew on all of my hard-won leadership experience (for which I had the battle scars) plus my interpersonal skills and combined them with the comprehensive toolkit of methodologies, tools and techniques I had acquired along the way. Applying these to the bluest of blue chip clients I could be the leader, mentor, strategist, consultant and facilitator I needed and wanted to be.
Finding my “Ology”
So where did the coaching thing come in? Well here actually:
Not exactly the obvious place to have a light bulb moment that changes your life, but Lymington Ferry Port it was! I was on a break from an intensive personal development course, watching the boats bobbing on the Solent in the sunshine, when I realised my Ology had been right under my nose all along!
I was a coach. I’d been supporting and developing highly qualified professionals throughout my career. All that listening, questioning, rapport building, strategic thinking and creativity had come so easily to me – and was so enjoyable – I hadn’t noticed it. But there it was. Coaching was my Ology.
Coach (and mentor, cheerleader, personal non-exec director, trainer, expert friend…)
Fast forward again to the present day. I’ve had my own coaching business since 1999. Years of training and qualifications have made my Ology real. I’ve coached thousands of clients in leadership positions. You can read what they say here.
Like me, they have learned how to combine their personal authenticity with a range of practical leadership tools and techniques. They have experienced the confidence-building power of Calm Business Coaching.
Blended Coaching (vs. other coaching)
“Pure” coaching alone (where the coach only asks questions) can sometimes be a frustrating and counterproductive experience. However, unlike many coaches in the marketplace, my career path means I can tailor your support with a unique Blended Coaching approach. You get exactly the right mix of solutions to help you achieve your objectives.
Your mix will include ‘pure coaching’; I will know when you have the solutions to your own problems and need powerful questions to access them. But Blended Coaching includes much more: a new approach to thinking about an issue, a model of influence, a survey to build self- awareness, a theory of motivation, a technique to be more assertive. It is drawing on my own leadership experiences (good and bad!) or talking through a complex business challenge to find the right strategy.
I will never tell you what to do. But I do strongly believe that pure coaching on its own does not always add enough value for experienced business leaders. Calm Business Coaching does. Discover it when you contact me.