This month I started something new: learning how to become a leadership coach. Why coaching? I’ve had coaching myself, several years ago. At the time I was very focused on developing as a leader, and just that.
Now, having led a team and a successful product for a few years, I’m ready for something new. I won’t be changing my career, just adding a skill which will hopefully make me better at my job while at the same time stretching and developing me as I practise it.
My training is with Dominic Morris of Blue Edge Training. I’ve known Dominic for years, and the time felt right to mix personal with professional when Blue Edge offered this open course in coaching and mentoring, with accreditation from the ILM.
The location was Wesley’s Chapel on the City Road in London, a beautiful Grade I listed Georgian church, built under the direction of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement. A stately and calm place to spend the day, amid the busy people and traffic congealing at nearby Old Street roundabout.
Day one was introductions, to each other as well as to the experience of coaching. Dominic kicked it off really well with three visual exercises that challenged our perceptions and demonstrated how thinking differently can unlock a problem.
Many people may be familiar with the nine-dot problem, but if you haven’t encountered it before (I hadn’t), the solution makes you realise you’ve written your own set of rules about the game without realising – and that you have to break the rules to solve it. Coaching does the exact same thing for people.
There are 10 people on the course, and as part of the introductions we all shared why we were doing it. Several described themselves as ‘fixers’, interestingly (not me). Nearly half the cohort work in senior or CEO roles in charities. I got to know them better over a lovely lunch at Finch’s Pub. A genuinely nice and interesting group, and I look forward to what will come out of our time together.
Back in the course after lunch, we learned the GROW model. This is central to coaching – setting a Goal; checking how Realistic it is; exploring the Obstacles or Options; and then agreeing a Way Forward. We quickly got stuck in to practicing, working in threes with one person coaching, one being coached, and one observing.
Guess which role I learned the most in? Observing. Strange, because that always sounds like a passive part. But it allowed me to see things I couldn’t while coaching or being coached. In particular, I understood the effect on the ‘coachee’ when the coach gave them a solution. They stopped thinking and discovering. Who’s to say there aren’t better solutions for them, if they’d just kept going?
We have three more group days of training, spread across June, July and early September. Then we start assignments, which is taking on coaching volunteers and being assessed as we progress. It feels like dipping my toe in the water as there is a lot to learn. But I’m very keen to get going, and also curious about what changes learning coaching will bring to my own life.
That’s the reason for the diary: To start at the beginning and look back at the end to see the differences between the first and last entries. I wonder, will be in for any surprises? I really hope so.
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