Coaching is a powerful way of guiding people through change. That sounds nice, but what does it actually look like? In this post I am sharing real stories from real people I have coached. To protect their confidentiality, names have been changed.
1. Seeing yourself as a leader
Sharon, a senior manager, was unsure if she had what it takes to be a leader. In her current role she felt like an imposter – a fraud waiting to be found out. She felt held back by a fragmented career path, which in her view lacked credibility. But through coaching she gradually came to realise that her unusual background was a strength that she could leverage to differentiate herself. And that she was in fact a leader – with her own style. Having gained this confidence and clarity, she no longer aspired or pretended to be somebody else. Soon after, she landed a more senior leadership role that, previously, would have felt out of her reach.
2. Chasing the rainbow
Some people spend their careers hunting for the next big job title without ever asking themselves what they really want, or why they want it. Take Chris – a young high-flyer running a corporate start-up incubator. He was impatient to reach the next step: a senior executive role. But through coaching, he came to realise that he is in fact an entrepreneur at heart – very different to the corporate director role he had in his sights. So rather than chase the job title, he is now giving himself more time to enjoy the ride, listen to his passion, and focus on making an impact where he is right now. The promotion can wait.
3. Preparing for job interviews
Pauline was frustrated at having been overlooked for a well-deserved promotion. She was desperate to leave and had started applying for jobs. Her CV was impressive, full of technical achievements. But it said little about her leadership potential. Pauline seemed unsure about her main strengths. Also, in her haste to leave, she was running away from what she hated – not towards what she loved. Through coaching, she gained the clarity and confidence to know what she wanted, what she was capable of, and how to get that across in job interviews. Three sessions later, she emailed to say she had landed two offers for project management roles.
4. Clouded vision
All of us can go through phases where we feel stuck in a rut, or just simply worn out. This can cloud our outlook and judgement. After all, we don’t see the world how it is – we see the world how we are.
Take Mark, an IT developer who had stumbled from job to job without much of a plan except for a vague aspiration to do something with data and maps. He was working long hours and felt exhausted and lost. Through coaching, using principles from neuroscience and positive psychology, Mark became clearer about what he really wants: to make a difference in the world through an environmental ethos. This insight has given him inspiration and a renewed sense of energy. He is now starting to reach out to people and organisations aligned with his newfound passion and aspiration. I know what the outcome will be. Deep down, I think he knows it too.
5. Entrepreneurial dilemmas
I have worked with many freelancers and entrepreneurs. They mostly have one thing in common: the desire to bounce off with someone. Running your own business can be a lonely place. Coaching provides support, challenge, and a friendly face to spar with.
- Take Gemma, who wasn’t making her revenue goals because she loved helping people for free. Together, we drew up a clear division of paid and pro bono work that enabled her to pursue her passion while also making a living.
- Or Fred, who was suffering from decision fatigue. Together, we unpacked his priorities so he could make a clear plan for himself and delegate the rest to his business partner and to contractors.
- Or Sajid, who was in the midst of stressful investor negotiations. He really needed a cash injection, but the investor was making impossible demands. Coaching provided a safe space where Sajid could take a step back, reconnect with his values, and find the courage to decline the investor’s offer. Soon after, Sajid landed an investment from someone much more aligned with his values.
There are also people who don’t know they are entrepreneurs at heart. Like Sarah or Andy, who were wondering why they didn’t enjoy their corporate jobs which favoured process over creativity. Or Ndulue, who came to me for help looking for jobs when what he really wanted was to start his own company.
Sometimes coaching is just about holding up a mirror, so you can see your true self. If you’d like to find out more contact me.