Charlie Stainforth graduated from the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching this year. We asked him about his experience of coach training with the AoEC and how he is using his skills in the fantastic work he does with young professionals at Circl.
What made you decide to embark on the Practitioner Diploma course?
Having been an active coach across a diverse group of people, from 16-year-old school students to teachers and company professionals, I wanted to consolidate everything I’d learnt and get a professional accreditation.
What were the positives and challenges you faced when doing the programme?
It was an extremely safe and open environment and I felt very comfortable asking questions until I really understood something. The biggest challenge was exploring the co-active model of coaching having been so ingrained in the GROW model for so long.
What new skills or competencies did you develop when studying the diploma?
I think my ability to listen has improved dramatically. Before the programme, I thought I was capable of active listening, but in reality, I was focused on the next questions I wanted to ask, rather than being truly present.
Who inspires you in the coaching world?
I’m most inspired by Katherine Tulpa, CEO of The Association for Coaching. I’ve had the privilege of being coached by her using the PROPHET framework and it was really transformational in just one session.
From your own experience, what advice would you give to those who are thinking about training to become a professional coach?
Don’t just ‘coach’ in a coaching session. You should really try to ‘live the coach approach.’ This doesn’t mean only ever ask questions but try to constantly develop the skills that you’re learning into your everyday interactions.
Can you please tell us more about the fantastic work Circl is doing to support young professionals?
Circl it a truly modern approach to helping young people develop leadership skills using coaching as a framework. We train professionals in coaching skills for modern leadership. These skills are then embedded and refined through 1:1 coaching of less privileged 16 – 18-year-old students. It's a uniquely effective way to develop managers while giving talented students the skills they need to succeed.
We’ve found the programme to be so successful and engaging because it combines two key elements: 1. experiential training - the professionals immediately put the skills into practice with the students in real life coaching situations. 2. Emotional connection to learning through social impact – all the students we work with are from less privileged backgrounds and so, through giving the programme 110% the professionals become better coaches and are therefore better coaches to the students, having a significant impact on their lives.
What are the most common challenges you face in the work Circl does?
We’re working to change the perception of working with less privileged schools students from being seen as ‘charity work’ that someone might volunteer to do if they have enough time, to the worlds best way to improve your coaching approach to leadership, giving you, your team and your business the commercial edge in a rapidly changing world. The programme is extremely effective because of the work with the students, not in spite of it.
How do you measure the effectiveness of your coaching?
My personal coaching practice relies on direct feedback to measure its effectiveness. By that I don’t mean the coachee telling me what a wonderful job I’ve done, instead focussing on the outcomes that the coachee achieves and can directly relate back to the coaching. This is something that I contract for at the beginning of each coaching segment with a new client.
Why do you think coaching can be so effective and empowering for young people?
For the same reasons that it’s effective and empowering for all people. The experience of having your data consistently presented back to you in a safe environment where the expectation is to explore with another person what it might mean in order to help you achieve your goals is extremely powerful. It may be even more powerful for younger people because they are in their formative years and the sooner, they can realise that they too are creative, resourceful and whole, the more they’ll be able to achieve in the future.
What has your own training and work as a coach taught you personally?
For me the most profound aspect of coaching is that there is always more. The mind is a seemly infinite resource of boundless ideas and wisdom. Sometimes it just takes someone else to allow people to see that.
What do you find most rewarding about your coaching work?
While I find it incredibly satisfying to help professionals break through barriers and obstacles at work, it’s the process of teaching the ‘coach approach’ and shifting mindsets around how leaders can get the best out of people that I find most rewarding. When you break it down, adopting a coach approach is not hard. People just need to get out of their own way, stop issuing directives, ask the right questions and listen to peel back the layers and find out how they can really help. If we can start this mindset shift with students as young as 16, imagine what kind of workplaces we’re creating for the future.
A big thank you to Charlie for sharing his experiences of coaching young professionals and studying the Practitioner Diploma programme.