As an executive coach, I’ve had the privilege to work with clients from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Each of my clients has their own unique challenges and expectations of what coaching can do for them. However, one common theme I’ve observed and validated with client feedback is that coaching has helped them explore their potential in a deeper way than they could have done on their own.
One of the tools coaches use to ‘go deeper’ is a 360. Receiving feedback from peers, managers, subordinates, and even clients can shine a light not just on the ‘gap areas’ (which tend to be where the mind wonders when thinking about making improvements) but also to any ‘hidden strengths’. Clients usually have an awareness of their strengths, but often a 360 can uncover hidden strengths. Leveraging a hidden strength — something you are perhaps better at doing than you give yourself credit for — is a great way to further your potential.
I recall one client in particular who was, at the time I started working with him, an individual contributor. He’d worked for his company for a number of years, across a number of departments, so he had a good all-round knowledge, and he wanted a promotion to a management role. His challenge was a lack of confidence in stepping up to lead people, even though it was something he felt he wanted to do. In our coaching sessions we were able to explore where that lack of confidence came from and how he might prefer to show up instead.
The 360 we undertook gave the gift of a hidden strength — specifically his ability to ‘influence without authority’ or ‘manage beyond’. He realised that his colleagues saw leadership behaviours in him that he hadn’t seen in himself. His natural, positive demeanour and authentic way of engaging encouraged others to follow his direction, even though they didn’t report to him. Once he became aware of this, a magical thing happened — his confidence grew. He was able to explore the specific leadership behaviours he already had and what he could amplify to successfully make the transition from individual contributor to manager.
It has certainly been a privilege to support clients in their growth. However, what I wasn’t expecting in becoming a coach was the opportunity it would bring me to explore my own potential.
I realised early in my Coach Advancement by Tracy Sinclair coach training, that if I wanted to truly understand the power of coaching, I would need to experience it for myself. So, mid-2020, in the height of the COVID lockdowns, I sought the support of a coach to help me explore my own potential.
I discovered that, not only did I want to change career to focus on coaching full time, but also that I had been holding myself back with limiting beliefs and a very real fear of failure. My coach’s active listening and challenging questioning helped me realise that I was struggling with imposter syndrome — feeling like I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to help others.
My coach helped me to see that these beliefs and my imagined fear of failure were holding me back and that I did, in fact, have the experience, skills and abilities to be a transformative coach.
I worked with my coach to devise a multi-step approach to achieving my goal of setting up my own coaching business. First up, in June 2021, was to change my role at work from Global Head of Sales Training to in-house Leadership Executive Coach. It’s a testament to the talent-nurturing nature of my employer that I felt both supported and encouraged on this journey.
Then in November 2022, having taken the opportunity to drop down to part time, with the help of my coach I finally found the courage to register my own coaching and consulting business.
Whilst it’s still in its early days, I am proud to say that business is thriving. I’ve helped both individuals and corporate clients explore their potential and achieve their goals. And I continue to explore my own potential, always looking for new ways to grow (currently undertaking an Organisational Psychology master’s course at Aberdeen University), learn (proud to say I can now build websites all by myself!) and make a positive impact in the world (by continuing to serve and support my clients).
In conclusion, helping clients explore their potential has been both humbling and rewarding, while my journey to becoming a coach helped me to explore my own potential in ways I never thought possible. I am grateful to everyone who has helped and placed their trust in me and for the transformative power of coaching, so I can support sales and enablement managers and leaders reach new heights of performance and productivity.