WHO AM I?
A huge driver for me for as long as I can remember, is to take what I know and who I am to add value to the lives of others.
This drive has taken me on an extended life and career ‘tour’ of living and working overseas, ‘trying on’ numerous professional roles, with a view to finding out exactly what ‘felt’ as well as ‘thought’ right, so I could finally settle into where and who I felt best being: personally and professionally.
I knew that when I could come from that space, I would be better positioned to add value to the lives and careers of my future clients.
As part of this extensive international ‘exploration’, in Paris I qualified and worked as an interior architect and a bi-lateral trade advisor in the Australian Trade Commission. In Australia, I worked in building design, qualified as a financial planner and investment advisor, worked as an international headhunter in the field of IT, set up specialist business, as well as taking up other roles in sales, marketing, consulting and SME management, working with the US and Europe (East & West), in the private and public sector. I then finally encountered around 14 years ago, a medium that appeared to enable me to bring together and leverage all of the knowledge and experience I’d acquired along the way and that was through the profession of coaching.
In the ensuing years, I have worked in the field of leadership and executive coaching, in the UK and internationally, working with senior executives within multinational organisations in major transition, culturally and externally, as well as organisations within the public sector. Clients include Centrica (British Gas, OneTel, The AA, CBS), Network Rail, Oracle, SAP, Newell Rubbermaid, Microsoft, GE-IT, Anglo Base Metals S Africa, BT, as well as public sector organisations, including the NHS, UK National Police Force and local government.
During these early exploratory years, however, the one recurrent theme that stood out and frustrated me the most, regardless of which industry sector I worked in (inc; banking, construction, insurance, utilities, IT, finance, automotive, training & development, charity, as well as local and national government) and existed across all three continents, was the consistent disinterest or inability of ‘leaders’ to successfully influence or fully engage their staff, to the point where the staff thrived and the organisation benefited. I witnessed the experiences of staff, of colleagues and I also personally experienced some extremely unaware, negligent, as well as wilfully destructive leadership behaviours at first hand.
This to me, seemed like an incredible (and unforgiveable) waste of creativity, commitment, loyalty, productivity and general talent and goodwill that staff genuinely wanted to give. The reasons for the absence of good leadership, seemed to range from simple lack of awareness, to what appeared to be total disinterest in engaging staff. Frequently, the short term focus on immediate results was the priority and the needs of staff responsible for creating the results, went completely unaddressed.
Following these experiences and also, as lifelong student of behavioural psychology, in around 1999 I started studying and developing my own awareness of what it was that employees needed from their leaders, in order to feel inspired, engaged and want to add value. What transpired from this, was an awareness of the critical importance of relationships for success in all aspects of life. Firstly, a positive and aware relationship with oneself, then an understanding and awareness of what’s important to others, followed by an honest appraisal and awareness of whatever situation we find ourselves in, so we can assess and choose the best response at that time to the individuals or situations requiring our participation.
In essence this summarises an emotionally intelligent approach to life, an approach to life that I resonate with personally and an approach that research has proven to add considerable value to leadership performance, which is why it forms part of the coaching that I now offer.
In fact, it brought home to me that relationships, in essence, are the superglue that enable everything in life. What do I mean by that? Well, however excellent we might be in our technical or strategic competences, as a brain surgeon or lawyer or in whatever role we might have in business, if we cannot connect with, relate to and communicate that knowledge and understanding to those around us and in a way that is heard and understood, we will never achieve our full potential in our roles.
And, of course, that brings us to ‘leadership’!