This week's Coach in the Spotlight is Jacqueline Williams, a governance and leadership consultant who found a new perspective with coaching. She started noticing a difference when asking more questions and she never looked back. Enjoy her inspiring story!
Before I came to coaching I had built a training and consultant practice which had been in operation for a number of years. I was attracted to coaching because I had colleagues who were coaches and I saw the difference in the way conversations with clients went when they listened more, asked questions and encouraged the client to find their own answers.
I went on the Introduction to Life Coaching course and liked what I saw and heard. I started to practice listening more, asking open questions and holding back on advice and saw that it started to make a difference, particularly with my consultancy clients.
I had always enjoyed working with women in leadership roles, often with women who are building their own business or trying to find their space in a largely male-dominated world. As I had been fortunate enough to be able to build a profession in the private sector and specialise in board-related matters; diversity in the board room, with very recent work in West Africa, I saw a gap in this area of women coaches coaching women in leadership.
Many of my practice clients, while I did my coaching qualification, were, therefore, women from ethnic minority backgrounds, some of whom actually live in Africa, building businesses and careers there. With many of them, the coaching sessions gave me the opportunity to help them focus on their longer-term goals.
In many cases, these focused on establishing and growing social enterprise businesses (even if not necessarily named as such) and in so doing building and developing the communities that these women come from. I am often in awe of what so many of these women have already overcome without giving themselves credit for how far they have come!
As I worked with a number of clients asking questions about their goals, realities and options, I was asking myself the same questions! As I was being coached myself I came to the realisation that I was myself on a similar journey as many of my coachees even though I had not actually conceptualised a need to build a business as I felt I already had one!
As I challenged my coachees’ limiting beliefs, my coach challenged mine! As I developed my coaching skills I got better at hearing what was not being said out loud playing back previous statements to coachees’ and gently challenging inconsistencies in what they are saying now compared with evidence they had provided previously.
I see some of the confidence issues I used to have and to some extent still do and I believe that helps me develop a rapport with my clients, and enables them to see me as someone walking alongside them on their leadership journey rather than someone who has it all sorted and does not have the need to continue to grow personally.
I was also fortunate enough to work with a couple of clients in the public sector, one in particular in the care sector. This brought to light the personal values, ethical and moral issues that drive this client and can challenge them on daily basis. I realised from this interaction that I have tended to take my personal values for granted.
By not acknowledging them I have not been able to realise how they impact on my motivation at work. Understanding and appreciating the issue of personal values has really helped me understand new clients better, and enable me to acknowledge that I may have an easier fit with certain clients, but need to manage this unconscious bias when faced with clients with different values, or working in different sectors.
Becoming familiar with the DISC profile also helped me understand new clients more quickly and prepare for our sessions better; slowing them down where necessary, giving them space to reflect etc. Now I understand my personal style also it helps with rapport building with clients, which has been a strength so far in my coaching journey.
My coaching journey post qualification has exceeded my expectations. COVID meant uncertainty, change, anxiety on the one hand, and opportunity, focus and a new vision on the other.
I have been able to provide coaching support (via that now so important tool called Zoom!) to a number of chief executives globally, mainly in the not for profit sector; they have shared their gains, losses, fears and joys; it has been humbling to hear what they have had to do to juggle people, funds and family!
I have also worked with a number of women entrepreneurs who have had to make tough business and personal decisions, something I can relate to personally and an area of passion for me. These sessions have broadened my horizon and given me tools to offer others as well, a journey I continue to enjoy.
I would say to others, go for it, the learning, self-discovery and personal fulfilment is very much worth it.
We are launching our free 2021 Introduction to Life Coaching webinars. They are interactive, informative and designed to help you understand if training to be a life coach is for you.
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