There are many reasons I became a coach in behavioural change. When I was very young I used to help my younger sisters with their studies and had a reputation even outside the home, at school or at ballet classes, to help others and teach them. So as a career I went into the field of education and then human relations. When in 2008 I ventured into conducting coaching it seemed such a natural transition for me as a Trainer and HR professional. What a transition it was and how much I have learned about myself and about other people, from my coaching ventures since then. In addition to meeting and learning a lot from a huge variety of people from all parts of the world, I have gained enormously in personal development: how to listen, to ask questions, to reflect; how to be truly present, to be compassionate and from successes plus failures, to constantly learn and grow. While I will always love designing, delivering and evaluating training and development initiatives, my coaching experiences have brought a depth and to my training work which has been very enriching for me and for training participants. So here are the four reasons, above all, why I love being a coach….
The wonderful anticipation before meeting a new client for the first time. No pre-conceived ideas, no presumptions, no judgements (even when I know some of the history in advance) just the exciting anticipation for a partnership between me and the client to support them in identifying and reaching their own goals whatever they may be. When I was working as an internal coach in the multi-national setting, an engineer was ‘sent’ to me for coaching by his manager who said: ‘can you do anything with Mr. Grump’. Behind that comment was years of frustration with this particular engineer who had lots of potential but had failed time and time again to reach it due to interpersonal difficulties. What was truly wonderful about the coaching partnership was that I had no pre-conceived presumptions about him at all and he could ‘feel ‘ that from the start. I came fresh, clean and eager to the relationship: I did not take on any history or ‘baggage’ from the past, just to be there, in the present, with him and a mind-set that was naturally and sincerely hopeful, encouraging and compassionate.
The constant admiration for the coaching process itself and its ability to help the client move forward. So many times clients have said ‘thank you, you really helped me’ – I am always astonished (and genuinely, sincerely so) because I never ever felt that I did anything at all. I am a kind of present, watchful, supportive partner in what is really a very powerful process driven by the client themselves. Sometimes, of course, particularly in career coaching, I will need to be more directive in my style when the client is looking for and needs direction, however, I am most admiring of the power of the coaching process when it is truly client-driven and enabling of client thinking.
The profound admiration I always feel for the client in their determined pursuit of change. I am always floored by the client’s passion for change. In particular, I admire so much their ability to be open and embracing of the coaching process and their drive to keep searching for the right answers within. In particular, I am astonished by clients who come to coaching personally, paying for this out of their own pockets, searching for help and support in reaching their own goals whatever they may be, from work situations that have become untenable or frustrating, to career change and development to personal life planning pursuits.
The client gets the full, focused and un-biased attention of another person, me, the coach. This is so powerful for motivation and really, it’s quite joyful. That might sound a bit ‘fluffy’ to some people, but I can honestly say that just having the attention and compassion poured out in a truly sincere way, lifts the client out of their current reality and suddenly they can see clearly where they need to go. This happens for all clients, no matter who they are: be they the senior executive on the board of directors or an un-employed tradesman or an entrepreneur seeking to expand their business. The client truly has all the answers when they come to coaching, however deeply they are buried.
The celebration at the end of a coaching partnership: I have often done a little dance. This may sound really odd given how much I love being in the partnership in the first place. What I mean here is when the client reaches their goals or has a path carved out towards their goals and there is no need any more for coaching, I celebrate. I remember so well the first time this happened for me – the client had being working on his relationship with his wife. The relationship was failing and this had begun to affect his work and career. The progress he made towards his personal goal was so astonishing and the happiness he achieved as a result, well, words failed me to describe his success. A year later I met both of them at an event, and smiled away to myself to see his wife so happy.
When it comes down to it, the client and the coaching process itself, are what make coaching such a rewarding and exciting experience for me. I am looking forward to continuing with my current partnerships and the anticipation of meeting new people and supporting them in carving their own paths towards change. And, as an aside, I really believe that coaching is truly powerful and can be used by anyone to achieve change as a manager improving performance, in a self-coaching capacity or with team colleagues, the potential is endless.
Anne Marie Crowley conducts training and coaching in behavioural change and runs workshops for managers on the coaching process and related skills. Make contact on firstname.lastname@example.org or via: www.crowleypersonalandbusinesschange.com