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How my presentation on returning to consulting led me to embrace coaching

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

It's been a busy few weeks, with coaching in high demand. A few people have asked me what people seek coaching for, and I thought I'd share a few case studies, starting with myself!

I was reminded last week that it had been a year since I was invited to be a panellist at the Management Consultancies Association's ‘Mind the Gap’ event. I was invited to present my MSc research findings on the factors that enabled the return of women to professional services after a career break. Ironically maybe, it was also the moment where the seed was sown for me to leave my management consulting career and embrace coaching.

I was already spending my weekends studying for my accreditation as an Executive Coach with Henley Business School at this point, and my fabulous cohort coached me through my anxiety of presenting to this large online audience. I couldn't understand why I felt so anxious about it when I was used to and enjoyed presenting and facilitating workshops in my roles as a consultant and trainer. It was through this coaching that I realised that the root cause behind my fear was actually due to the lack of human connection and lack of feedback in an online environment. No ums and ahs. No nods of the head. No mingling with coffee beforehand to get to know my audience. It was a realisation that made a difference. There wasn’t anything ‘wrong’ with me and it wasn't the size of the audience that was the issue. I would have to find other ways to build rapport with my audience.

It was also through this coaching that I was able to change my perspective from worrying about all the things that I didn’t know that I might be asked about (let’s face it, no one knows everything, that’s just an impossible ask), to thinking about how helpful all the things I DID know would be for my audience. (Why is it we always focus on the negatives?) Just reframing in that way made a huge difference to my nerves and my confidence. It felt great to be able to share my knowledge to help and empower others.

Fast forward a year, and I am regularly delivering webinars globally through my associate work with Freefort. Do I still get nervous at presenting online? Yes. But I am much better at managing that, and the feeling which used to overwhelm me now gets acknowledged and recognised without letting it take over. Do I still prefer face to face facilitation? Yes most definitely, but I also get satisfaction from knowing that sharing my knowledge online, on topics such as collaboration and psychological safety, can reach a wider audience in this way, and therefore can make a wider impact.

This was just a small example of how coaching impacted me and my behaviour, but it also proved to me the potential coaching could have to make a difference in people’s work lives, their performance and their well-being. 4 months later, I started my dream of coaching full time, combining my business experience with my interest in human behaviour. Now instead of being a consultant or leader in the corporate world, I support those who are. I help them to navigate their own challenges and changes, and to improve their own performance instead, and that gives me joy :)

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