Coaching helps you to direct energy to where it will best support your work
Think of me as a companion, a mixture of Eliot's Pound and Clouseau's Cato. You have an experienced ally to challenge and support you, to spot and to tackle your weaknesses at work, help you cut through to strengths you've not fully understood, and release yourself from approaches that no longer serve you well.
I may be working with you as part of a structured programme sponsored by your organisation. Or you may choose independently to work with me, short or long term. However it comes about, this is an entirely personal and private relationship where you and your priorities are at the heart of our work together.
The client is the author oft he work with the coach alongside focused on the same exploration, holding the perspective of the third corner, to avoid joining the client in assumptions.Bird and Gornall
Above all, coaching is a partnership of equals. A collaboration.
My practice is informed by my own experience as a senior leader, and by exposure to a wide range of leadership contexts, fused with elements from knowledge management, narrative, networks, collaboration, foresight, group dynamics and facilitation. As I work with you, I aim to
Empty out and contain the space in which you can discover your own resistances and resources.
Pay attention to beginnings and endings to bound and activate the coaching space and transitions into and out of that space.
Recognise and explore deep patterns. Dive below visible layers to deep-held assumptions and governing metaphors which we can then explore together, and play with shifting.
Before he goes into the water, a diver cannot know what he will bring backMax Ernst
Witness, and work with, stories as a hidden resource that helps you, as a leader connect with yourself, and others, and connect others, in turn, to the bigger stories, missions, values, changes and challenges of the organisation.
Explore connectedness. At the heart of successful leadership is the ability to work as a networked leader, aware of how multiple, overlapping networks work as the beating heart of the organisation. Tools and techniques used in social network analysis, for example, can help you visualise and understand the strength, or fragility of their bonds, networks and relationships, and so shift their understanding of how they operate and influence in networks, and help others to do the same.
Sometimes, I work simultaneously at the level of individuals, groups, senior leadership teams, organisations. This makes for some boundary issues that need careful and scrupulous collective attention.
It's perhaps also important to say that while I operate from humanistic principles, and have formed my own views about what makes for good leadership, it's not my place to constrain or judge a coaching client by having, or imposing, my own agenda. We work with their resources and readiness, their appetite to change. My role is to cocoon coaching the space, be fully present, while opening out new perspectives, pushing the client further and deeper in self-enquiry than they might have gone without my companionship. My job is not to insist on a particular agenda that either I, or others, or the organisation might have.
And finally, Stafford Beers has it right, from the essay collection ‘Think before you think’, although he was talking about consulting really:
People who go into these difficult situations without love cannot put their arms around anyone, and therefore cannot share the burden of responsibility.'Stafford Beers
Some feedback from a coaching client.
This represents views on a series of six coaching sessions undertaken in early 2018. At the time, I was trying to find my feet as a newly independent consultant providing support to executive teams and boards – including a newly formed government agency. I found the process Victoria adopted both highly engaging and useful; firstly, it was very much a conversation -almost co-production - of what tools and techniques might be useful and when. Secondly, the tools themselves – particularly SCARF, Nancy Klein’s incisive questions and NLP new behaviour generator. I found the combination of approaches helped to challenge and stretch my thinking at all stages, allowing me to step back from the day-to-day ‘busy-ness’ and consider medium and long-term implications. From a personal engagement and development perspective, Victoria always listened very carefully and offered incisive questions at key points. The atmosphere created was supportive yet challenging throughout, helping me recognise and think through sometimes deeply buried assumptions about how I interact with, and relate to, people – particularly professionally, yet also personally. As we both observed, I sometimes disappeared down technical rabbit holes and Victoria – very gently – pulled me back out to address those underlying issues! Overall, it was a thoroughly helpful and developmental experience – thank you.