In May we had the pleasure to speak with the Passion And Fruit Executive Coach Mia O’Gorman about Coaching. Coaching increasingly gains in popularity these days, but what is it actually, and how can coaching be used in the personal and professional context to drive performance and wellbeing? Mia is coaching individuals and organisations for 17 years and shared some great insight with us.
Enjoy the read!
1. What is coaching, actually?
What a question to start with! You could get a different answer from almost every coach. One of the classic definitions that I like is from John Whitmore, who played a key role in bringing coaching to business from the world of sport. He wrote that coaching is a conversation where the role of the coach is to “spring forth the learner’s resourcefulness”. In just a few words this captures how coaching enables performance and development by drawing out more of the potential that already exists in the person being coached, usually called the ‘coachee’.
A coach uses skills including listening, questioning, reflecting and feedback to enable the coachee to think about their situation, decide on goals, develop their emotional intelligence, generate options for action and ultimately, enhance their performance and wellbeing. This is usually through a series of conversations over time, but can be just a single session.
2. How can coaching be used as a tool to accelerate personal and professional growth?
Personally: coaching can accelerate personal growth through the coachee becoming more self-aware of what they want and need, shifting how they think and feel about themselves and others, and taking action to move towards the things they want. This can happen through becoming more aware of values and motivations; through better understanding patterns of thinking, feelings and behaviour; through recognising which habits support them and which habits are getting in their way; through reflecting on how they relate to other people; and through experimenting with new behaviours, different ways of thinking and engaging with other people to build confidence and capability. Common topics coachees bring relating to personal development include finding a new direction in life, increasing confidence, coping better with pressure or stress, living in a more balanced way and changing unwanted habits, or cultivating new healthy habits.
Professionally: all the points above apply to professional growth too. Any coaching that enhances the performance and wellbeing of employees will also benefit the business, however often there is clear business intention agreed between the coachee, the coach and the organisation. This could range from accelerating development in readiness for a promotion, transitioning into a new role or addressing areas of underperformance, to promoting a change in the leadership style or culture. Common topics I coach on in organisations include improving leadership, developing emotional intelligence, building better relationships with colleagues and stakeholders, enhancing skill areas such as business development or influencing without authority, and building resilience.
3. How did your life get accelerated through coaching or in our words, how did your passion for coaching bear fruit?
I was very lucky to ‘discover’ coaching early in my career and it has been my greatest professional passion ever since.
A coaching skills course when I was a human resources officer for HBOS bank sparked my interest. I read John Whitmore’s book ‘Coaching for Performance’ and after I moved into a leadership development role, I was chosen as a trainer to deliver a coaching programme to 2,000 managers. Having enjoyed this experience so much, I built on my professional experience as an executive coach, designed and delivered coaching training for leaders and for other professional coaches, and qualified as a coaching supervisor.
Now as a freelance coach, supervisor and leadership development facilitator I’m able to put coaching at the centre my work and find it incredibly rewarding.
I feel privileged to witness people grow and develop, to see them take courageous steps to achieve their ambitions and live more of the life they want, and I’m grateful to share a part of each coachee’s journey.
The incredible thing about coaching is that it’s generative. Whatever the initial topics, coaching helps coachees become better equipped for the future. When a leader becomes more effective, that touches dozens or perhaps hundreds of lives. When I train and develop other coaches, and they go out and do amazing work with all their clients, that will positively affect thousands of people… so for me, coaching bears more fruit than I ever would have imagined when I first encountered it back in 2002!
4. How can companies harness the power of coaching to benefit their teams and the organisation as a whole?
Internet technology enabling virtual coaching is helping to democratise coaching, increasing efficiency and saving cost on travel and venues. Organisations can buy blocks of coaching sessions to make available to employees who can book a virtual session for wherever and whenever it suits them. Individual coaching sessions are completely confidential; some providers offer collective data about themes raised in coaching, for example once more than one hundred sessions have taken place.
Another option is the Passion And Fruit ‘coaching immersion day’ where coaches visit an organisation in person, for example offering six coaching sessions per coach per day. Employees can book in advance or drop in on the day according to availability; again these are confidential.
Team coaching has grown in popularity too – here, one or more coaches will work with a team when they are together, helping them to enhance relationships and work more effectively. This can be especially helpful for a new or re-forming team, and provision may include individual coaching sessions too.
Traditional ‘executive coaching’ remains very popular and highly regarded. It’s not only for executives, however engaging a professional coach for a series of individual sessions can represent a significant investment so it is often provided selectively for high-potential employees, talent groups or a layer of managers leading change where the organisation can see a clear return on this investment. Coaching sessions are confidential, however an organisational sponsor usually contributes to setting the coaching agenda and reviewing the effectiveness of the coaching.
All these options can enhance both performance and the mental wellbeing of employees. Even when wellbeing isn’t specifically on the coaching agenda, the opportunity to speak confidentially with a professional coach who provides support that enhances awareness and development, has a beneficial impact. This occurs through the quality of the coaching relationship, increased confidence in personal effectiveness and generation of a more positive outlook, as well as the specific coaching tools and techniques used. It is also increasingly recognised that when employees have better mental wellbeing they are able to be more productive, more creative, take fewer sickness days and are more likely to stay with the organisation.
5. What are some of the topics you cover in your coaching sessions?
Passion And Fruit offers individual and group coaching, virtually and in-person.Current and recent coaching topics I have worked with include:
Stepping up to increased leadership responsibilities
Transitioning into the CEO role of a small, fast-growing organisation
Becoming more effective at handling conflict and stressful situations
Learning to thrive in a new organisation despite an unexpected change in role
Developing a more empowering leadership culture
Increasing emotional intelligence to enhance leadership impact
You are curious about coaching, either for yourself or for your team? Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a free discovery call.
#coaching #executivecoaching #mentalhealth