Having spent the first 10 years of my career working with some of Australia’s largest companies, my move into Coaching in 2001 was life transforming. Coaching not only provided me with the opportunity for a new, invigorating professional career, it also positively changed the way I approached, communicated and managed my personal life. Now, (as a practicing Coach and hundreds of clients later), I realise that Coaching helped me appreciate a passion for helping people that I had subconsciously preferred and put it into focus – or in reality, into blazing headlights.
Watching the “lights go on”, the confidence build, and facilitating the personal growth of my clients has been a privilege I have witnessed many times. Building strong relationships and continually learning with my clients (and organisations) has equipped me (and them) with a hugely satisfying and insightful knowledge of life in corporate Australia – and beyond. Studying Coaching from a Coaching Psychology perspective has given me deeper insight into peoples mode of operating that has facilitated so much of the change and growth I have seen.
What has been so surprising in my experience is the degree to which clients and organisations struggle with the same challenges.
Not that they face similar challenges but that the challenges they face are often almost identical to the ones being faced by the organisation across the street/ next door or down the road.
Prior to Coaching I considered myself a fairly typical manager – ambitious, working in a highly competitive industry, managing diverse customer bases, large budgets, a growing number of team members and enjoying as much international responsibility as I could get my hands on!
In 2000/1 in particular, my company was going through “Change” – we had had 3 new managing directors in a 2 year period and as a result, our “strategies” would conflict as each new MD began to put their “stamp” on the business. Change, inconsistency and ambiguity were the only real constants in our working lives.
What was interesting and so typical about these changes was that whilst each MD was so keen to enable effective “Culture Change” – no one was listening in on the “people response” for a real update. Rumours and innuendo flowed faster than any strategy presentation and daily conversations were littered with insecurity, politics and all the usual coping strategies that people undertake to manage perceived threats of change. Conversations that were impacting on themselves and each other - exhausting, time wasting and negative.
And so it was amidst this shifting landscape that my personal questions of meaning and need for clarity came to the surface: was there more to my life than responding and coping with this level of change and anxiety? How could I become more purposeful? What was it that I really enjoyed doing – for myself rather than for others? Questions that I understand today are asked by everyone at some point. Powerful questions that should be asked and indeed asked regularly throughout ones life.
From an organisational perspective I believe questions that would be useful to ask on an ongoing basis are:
- How can we really influence those people conversations in a positive way?
- How can we tap into the company “psyche” and make positive change at the water cooler level?
- How can we really help people through change and make it a positive, personally growing and fruitful experience, full of possibilities?
So, as I was to find out, Coaching – when implemented soundly, professionally and ethically - could have, and can, help individuals (you and I) as well as organisations, to not only handle change well, but to do it productively and continue to grow. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Suzi Skinner Biography
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