What is coaching?
The most widely shared definition of coaching is that it’s something that will help you “unlock your potential”. And in many ways that’s correct. One of the key roles of a coach is to shift your perspective, sometimes a lot, sometimes only by a few degrees, to help you really see all you can do.
A tennis coach may adjust your backhand hold by a few inches and transform your game.
A career coach may help you shift the way you tell your story, or the way you think about your goals, by a few inches, and transform your career.
Years ago, I found myself the lone woman in a room full of German TV executives. Next to me was a lovely guy called Marcus (one of three Marcuses in that room). I said to him: “Well, looks like I’m the only woman again…” Marcus looked at me and said:
“Yes but Claire, everybody will remember your name.”
In one sentence, he had completely changed my perspective on what it meant to be the only woman in that room. That’s what coaching can do for you.
Why I coach
One of the things I love most about coaching is helping people see themselves clearly. One of my clients was an incredible woman who had had the most amazing career, but had stopped seeing her achievements. I asked her how she would tell her 5-year-old the story of “the things Mummy did before you were born”. As she worked on formulating her story, she was able to reconnect with her past triumphs and adventures.
I’ve always coached. Just ask my two younger sisters (or maybe don’t…), and pretty much anyone I’ve ever worked with. I was lucky to work in amazing companies that gave me opportunities to mentor, coach, support, develop, and I took all of these and ran with them. Later, I volunteered for a fabulous organisation called TeachFirst and coached some trainee teachers.
But it was by being coached myself that I realised that this may be something I could do professionally. My coach helped me formalise in my head how much I enjoy the process of coaching, of working with people and helping them unlock their potential.
How I coach
My core belief is that stories are the centre of our experience of leadership – whether it is the narrative we tell ourselves, the stories we tell others, or how we listen to other people’s stories. Great leaders are always great storytellers: from Greta Thunberg to Nelson Mandela, from Winston Churchill to Megan Rapinoe, it is through stories, images, narratives – not facts and figures – that the most inspiring people we know succeed in energising us and driving us to action.
My coaching centres around understanding and refining our stories – whether it is to develop a more mature leadership style, to settle in a new role, to understand other perspectives or to deliver complex messages and presentations more confidently. I call it Story-Led Coaching.
Find out more about the power of stories:
I spend my entire childhood lost in stories. I read voraciously, and I watched everything I could on TV. In a world that I had very little control over, stories became the imaginary place that fed me the emotional connections I needed.…
Can I help you?
I work in different ways with different people – from very intense bursts where we meet every week and work on a specific task or goal, to ongoing relationships where we have monthly sessions to refine and adapt. I can work with teams, or prepare you for a big public engagement. I work in French and English, in person or via Zoom. I can help you think about work problems, or life concerns, or a bit of both.
Expect our sessions to be peppered with movie, TV and pop culture references. What would Beyonce do? is a genuine strategic question that I ask regularly.
What doesn’t change is my focus on you – your story, your goals, your narrative to yourself and others.
The question is this: can I help you? Am I the best person to take you on this journey? Let’s find out!