I’m trying to articulate more clearly why I do what I do. I’m also trying to define the fundamental elements of my coaching work – what I do and why, how it feels to be coached by me, what underpins my work. And who I am in all of this? Who is the Kate that shows up to work with clients, and is it the same Kate as turns up in the pub to meet friends or goes to the supermarket?
Why am I trying to do any of this? When I trained as a coach, one of the fundamental requirements was to be able to articulate what my coaching was for (its purpose), my coaching process, and the outcomes my clients could expect. Clarity about these building blocks is regarded as best practice for coaches.
I struggled with it during training, and I still struggle with it now. Why?
On the one hand, I have too much information. I’m a magpie – I gather up nuggets of ideas and incorporate them into what I believe and how I work – and then I forget the detail and remember only the general concept. I have so many formative influences, it’s hard to distil them down to the important bits.
On the other hand, what I struggle with most is the voice in my head saying that what I really think and feel and believe is fluffy, new-age nonsense. That it might play well with someone attending a yoga retreat but not with the CEO of Big Business Inc who wants hard-edged, performance-focused coaching which impacts directly, and fast, on the bottom line.
Here is what I believe. I believe my coaching impacts on the bottom line. But not in quite the way that some people want. I don’t focus on skills (giving better presentations, efficient time management, understanding finance). I focus on who you are as a person, what your purpose is in life, and how you use your unique talents, experiences, strengths, beliefs and values to live that purpose in your daily life.
Why does that matter?
I believe we are all connected. Yes, on some mysterious energetic level, but also in the practical sense that what I do affects those around me. And they affect those around them. And so on, until everyone in the world is, in some tiny, indefinable way, affected by what I do or don’t do – the Butterfly Effect of Chaos Theory. The manager having a bad day at work snaps at an employee. The employee goes home grumpy and shouts at the kids. The kids go to school and misbehave in class. The teacher feels out of control and rants in a staff meeting. Everyone else in the meeting goes home disgruntled and takes it out on their families. Who all go to work or school or the local shop and spread the misery. And on it goes, infecting hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people.
Imagine what it would be like if you met someone inexplicably cheerful, who did something to help you even though they didn’t know you, just because it was the right thing to do, and they felt good that day? What would that spread into the world?
My work is about helping you to understand your impact, how to enhance it, play it more skilfully, and use it for maximum positive effect. Because it affects thousands of lives. Particularly the lives of your friends, family and colleagues. And, in the organisational context of my work, because the impact you have on your colleagues is the key to whether you are a successful leader. A successful leader is someone other people want to follow. Not have to follow, because you’re the boss. Want to, because you’re committed to doing the right things for the right reasons, are purposeful, motivating, energising and engaging. Oh, and fun to be around.
We know from research that engaged employees are more productive. Research from Warwick University published recently suggests that happy people work harder. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/?pid=sales
So my work does affect the bottom line. That’s at least partly why I hope it matters to CEOs and senior leaders and those who make the decisions about how to develop their people.
Why it matters to me is because I believe it is morally right to free the human spirit at work, to enable people to be whole and happy and huge and powerful and purposeful.
Knowing who you are, what’s important and why, and trying to be the best you can, matters. Especially in organisations where, the more senior you are, the more people you touch with even the smallest action or casual word. Where we really are all connected, where we depend on co-operating and pulling together, sharing a sense of purpose and direction. And don’t mistake me here – I don’t mean these things in the “corporate vision and mission” kind of way. I mean them in the sense of doing things that matter, contributing to the greater good, working together to do the right things not the easy things, and doing them in a way which is respectful of others, has integrity, shows care and compassion for self and others, and which makes the world a better place. For all of us.