As a mechanical engineer who started work in the chemical industry, entered the consulting profession through the project management practice in the late 1980’s, I started with practically zero understanding of coaching as an approach to development. All my experience of leadership development and management training had been through the classic in-company and open programmes. My journey with coaching started as a consultant marvelling at the skills and capabilities of my peers, typically from the HR practice, that worked alongside me on major change programmes. They had a counselling, occupational or organisational psychology or similar professional background and were incredibly able facilitators and coaches.
Working out what coaching meant for me and getting good at it became critical when I recognised the importance of the client’s individual and collective leadership in achieving the sustainable outcomes we were there to deliver. Through PA Consulting Group, leading Executive Education at Durham Business School and developing the advisory business at CIO Connect, I have been on a journey to develop my own skills as a coach and define our value proposition for coaching. Along the way learning that the coaching of others is a great self-development approach, too. Settling on the Laing Russell approach to coaching has been the most recent stage in that journey. We have labelled our approach Connected Coaching.
Connected Coaching embodies all the professionalism that you would expect of a quality coaching service and more. A professionalism driven by a focus on the delivery of value. Professionalism that makes sure we have explicit contracting and makes effective use of supervision. In offering more through Connected Coaching, we look to bring everything that we value in Systemic Coaching approaches. And we bring additional value through our coaches making relevant, new connections into our network.
Systemic Coaching addresses a key challenge that I think the early coaching had in being solely focused on the coachee. We have all found that our coaching is much more effective if we focus on the coachee in their context and work with the coachee on the whole system – their stakeholders. As I read in the recent book on Systemic Coaching by Peter Hawkins and Eve Turner – it’s about bringing the ‘outside-in’ to your coaching. I would add it’s also about bringing the future forward into the coaching, too, working across a productive balance of today, tomorrow and the future.
In bringing our network to bear we are drawing on the power of the practical, real experiences direct from the peer practitioner that is not mediated by our Laing Russell coach and the direct connection means that a new learning dialogue can be established to mutual benefit. So whether it’s a peer, who has directly addressed a similar issue or a new perspective, we are finding that this additional connections adds significant value.
As evidenced by quotes from two coaching clients from this year:
- “…Alistair created both space and a framework to explore ideas and ways forward whilst also reaching out to his own networks to enable conversations which tested my own thinking.
- “..Alistair enabled me to think through properly about the path I wanted to take over the next 5/10 years which has had a hugely positive impact on both my focus and motivation. Alistair helped me to better understand my own strengths and weaknesses and utilised his vast network of contacts to allow me to interact and learn from others in my field… for anyone looking to enter in to a professional coaching arrangement, I can’t recommend Alistair highly enough!”