We are well into the impact of C19 and this post is very overdue. At the start of the year coaching topics eluded to the uncertainty of the world and then we all found ourselves on another level of uncertainty that was more scary and testing.
In the middle of this crisis, I am comforted by having a job where every day I find myself speaking to somebody from a different country or background to my own. Why? Coaching adds value to a client by listening to their story and we help them change towards a better future designed by them. It can also help someone just find some comfort for what they are experiencing in that moment and we can explore where they are on the change curve. Some are ready to think about the future, others just need to explore what is going on for them and take comfort in being listened to as a respite for being brave for others.
I have the privilege of listening to their stories, their past and present working lives and their hopes and fears for the future. I learn a lot about their families, cultures and lifestyles, successes and low points and it gives me perspectives on the human race and our commonalities and how we are all in this crisis together. Remarkably, I still notice how we have the ability to put new plans into action and how important it is to find comfort in being okay with ourselves today and still hope for the future.
Most of my work has been delivered virtually for the last three years and I love how technology is helping many people remain connected to their work and family. I have loved watching people embrace doing things differently and continuing their lives in new virtual ways which in turn has made them question their old routines and beliefs. I take comfort that the human race has the ability to change and make a difference and fully believe that we will come out of this crisis stronger and with some positive permanent change. This has also been the hope of clients across the world.
Whilst the majority of my clients are based in the UK, I also coach clients as far as Russia, Greece, Brazil, Azerbaijan and Angola. I have learnt about people whose cultures have made some working norms difficult, but the leaders still strive to make a difference and create opportunities for others. They see a bright future in making more change happen post-crisis.
I coached people on their shift on oil rigs in the North Sea and in the desert and I have learnt about the strength of community spirit of shift workers and the leadership challenges of supporting those working away from home. I also take comfort from the community spirit around me in the UK in both my location and in the actions of the corporations supporting their teams working from home.
I have been coaching women in many sectors dominated by men including mining and chemicals and men in sectors where they are working in technology who are having to be more open minded to rapid change in their teams as their product managers get younger and are asking for more emotional intelligence in leaders who have grown up as task-oriented experts. Yet all strive to have better conversations, grow their people and drive themselves to change. This has served them all well in the crisis in helping their teams acknowledge their emotions and voice them.
I have been honoured to hear the coming out stories of male and female leaders who wanted to be open with their teams about their true selves and to help others trust them to overcome their own hurdles whatever the subject matter. They have now found it easier to share their real selves when working at home and being open to their teams who in turn have a greater understanding of who they are out of work.
I have coached newly appointed board members who needed to find the courage to deal with a toxic work culture and find a new way of leading with their own signature presence however lonely that felt they have achieved progress and lasting change. It's these leaders who are using the new ways of working as an opportunity for lasting change.
Then there is watching my network of coaches lean in to pro bono work for school leaders and the NHS, finding a role in supporting key workers and helping them cope. It's not easy work hearing from the coal face and listening to what is being required of them, but again I am comforted by their hopes for positive long-lasting change for good.
I continue to see commonalities in all my work - Courage, Curiosity and Change and most importantly my clients show me that the human race still wants to make a difference to their communities, countries, and families. This is why I believe coaching also makes a societal difference and promotes change one step at a time. From this period, there will be for many comfort in being one global community. I am also taking comfort that I can play a role in making sure we don't forget what we hoped would change now we have a chance.
A big thank you to Kate for allowing us to share her blog.
Kate Freedman is part of the AoEC's consultant team and an independent capability consultant, accredited executive and careers coach and experienced facilitator, who has helped hundreds of managers and leaders improve their coaching and leadership capabilities.