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Why is coaching important? Interview with our Head Leadership Development Coach

Coaching is an essential step in the journey of leadership development. Through powerful questioning that can evoke reflection and self-awareness, it helps leaders define the career path they want to follow, and guides them towards achieving their goals. We have interviewed our Head Leadership Development Coach, Estelle Des Georges to find out more about the importance of coaching and the best way to approach it for optimal results.

What has persuaded you to become a coach?

Unknowingly, I had been coaching my family, as well as many friends and work colleagues in the course of my life. At the time, I was not aware this could be a profession… But I already loved it. I have always firmly believed, even before I knew about the coaching profession, that you can do whatever you want in life, as long as you know what it is you want to do. I went through two major 180 degree career shifts which were evidence of what I could achieve through coaching myself. I now use this passion to “engineer positive change” by using coaching techniques to help others go through the same process.

Why is coaching important?

Let me give you a small analogy. If I tell you: “I will meet you tomorrow”: it is an idea, not a plan. Until I tell you what time, the exact address, the purpose of the meeting and whether or not you need to prepare something for that meeting, it is unlikely the meeting will happen in the way that I am envisioning it. The same goes for your professional development. Until you decide where you want to go and aim for it, you are likely to wander around in your career, and will tend to be driven primarily by the opportunities that come along. Coaching helps you clearly define what you want to be/do/have and helps you close the gap between “where you are now” to “where you want to be”. It helps you identify development gaps and spot opportunities that are in alignment with your chosen career path. Coaching is important because it guides you in achieving what is truly important to you. Through a set of conversations, using powerful questioning, your coach will help you achieve your personal goals faster than you could do it on your own.

What makes coaching successful?

Coaching is a question-guided conversation that is thought-provoking and inspirational. Both the coach and the coachee are responsible for the success of a coaching session. For the most impact, the coach needs to be skilled in coaching competencies and adopt a coaching underlying behaviour, i.e. the session is about you, and not about what your coach knows. The stronger the desire for change, the more engaged you will feel in your coaching sessions. Coaching success is measured by achievements, the ones you have set forth for yourself. Coaching is considered successful when you specifically know where you want to go and that you take the actions to get there.

What makes your approach to coaching tailored to the social sector?

In terms of coaching techniques, my approach is the same as with leaders of the private sector. However, the challenges encountered in the social sector are somewhat different from those of the private sector. In the social sector, teams are required to be more flexible and highly adaptable to the funding requirements, the whole organisation, as opposed to a specific project team. In some instances this can lead to intense pressure for performance with reduced resources and job precarity. This, alongside strong pressure on social leaders to increase their circle of influence, and to maintain under-resourced teams at high levels of performance for extended periods of time, creates a demanding environment. In this context, a coach's biggest challenge is to help their client create a space for reflection.

What should someone who has never participated in coaching before expect?

I would say the most impactful aspect of coaching is the development of self-awareness through powerful questioning. You can see it as a much needed space for reflection - a “me” time - in a within a leader’s busy schedule. Coaching is a non-judgemental approach to something personal to you, thinking out loud with a friendly stranger who will help you tap into your hidden talent.

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