Tag Archives: testimonials

Coaching: the gift that keeps on giving

Recently, I was absolutely thrilled to discover that former coaching client, Carrie Bedingfield, has done a very successful talk which is available on TEDx.  Her subject?  How striving is costing us everything:  the profit paradox.

I thought of Carrie again recently.  I’ll come back to the “why”.  First though, I want to touch on something that coaches, and their clients, constantly grapple with:

Pondering what return you’ll get from your investment in coaching?

When you make an investment in coaching – time, money and more – you want to know that it will be worthwhile.  This is true whether you are seeking coaching for yourself or sponsoring coaching for someone in your team.

Will coaching help you with the immediate issues that have made you consider coaching as an option in the first place?  You want to know.

Will coaching lead to benefits in the long-term that make the investment worthwhile?  You want to know.

At the same time, coaching holds no guarantees.  There’s no guarantee that coaching will deliver the solutions you are hoping for.  There’s no guarantee that coaching will deliver any solutions.  Coaching, as an “act of faith” remains an expensive option.

What proof is there of the long-term benefits of coaching?

Coaches, too, grapple with this issue.

We look for studies which demonstrate the impact of coaching.  They’re out there but they’re not always easy to find and, quite quickly, they can look out of date.

Sometimes, I prefer to let clients speak about the results over time from their investment in coaching.  Carrie told me at the time what benefits she had from her investment in coaching with me.  In recent days, she’s been kind enough to add a few words about the long term impact of coaching.

This is what she had to say:

CarrieWhen I first started working with you, I was working flat out and trying to make myself available to everyone – clients, team members and others – all the time.  Paradoxically, the more I tried to make myself available to people, the more I was starting to resent people for stealing my time.  Also, I was riding the roller-coaster of other people’s emotions.  A client would be unhappy (or just express something in a way that brought us all down) and I would dive down.  A project would go well and the world was a sunny happy place.  I was feeling exhausted and I knew the approach I was taking wasn’t sustainable.

Like many people, I’m a bundle of sharp contrasts – they conflict all the time which causes wasted energy/effort or even pain.  With Dorothy, I learnt to unpick these. They all want something good for me.  If I can identify how each is trying to serve me, I can end the conflict.  Now I understand, for example, what dangers my desire to be available and my concern to protect my time are warning me against and how they’re trying to help me.  And I can set and communicate boundaries that don’t cause inconvenience for me or anyone else.

Another massive lesson for me was to take responsibility for myself only – one I share with other people all the time.  Clearly defining what I’m responsible for and what I’m not (you need to keep doing this ALL the time!) changes the energy completely and removes the emotional weight of running a service business.  Dorothy enabled me to disentangle myself from all of this and establish what I am responsible for which helps me focus effort on what I can actually change and lift the weight from my shoulders of other people’s responses which are their choice.

I didn’t think it was possible to learn something completely new or to massively grow in an area of little experience.  For me that was coaching and developing others.  I had limited beliefs about what others were capable of so I neither thought they could transform nor that I could help them do it.  I learnt by doing that actually, I could change/develop/grow/learn and that opened up a new world. All these people in my extended team could also develop amazing new talents and I could help them do it!  And that’s exactly what happened.

The work we did together had a massive impact on me at the time.  Learning to coach members of my team meant that they were able to fulfil their potential more fully and I could delegate to them.  My role changed quite quickly.  I went from being key to the provision of services to take on a leadership role and, quite quickly, to become CEO.  This opened up opportunities to do other things, such as lecturing for the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and founding 50th Generation, an incubator for meaningful, growing businesses.

It’s easy to say that, as a result of our work together (and other learning with other learning partners), I became a different person.  I think it’s more truthful, though, to say that our work together helped me to become a more effective, fun and joyful version of myself.

Carrie Bedingfield

Entrepreneur, business grower, investor, communications specialist, guest lecturer

Investing in your life and career

I thought of Carrie because I am currently putting together information about a coaching group I will be offering in the next few days for people who want to make their next career move – people who are seeking promotion within their current organisation or seeking to move from one organisation and another.  If you want to find out more, about this, click here.

Carrie’s experience demonstrates the kind of progress people make as a result of investing in their personal development.  Her testimonial exemplifies the kind of things people learn in coaching.  It also exemplifies the kind of results people can look forward to in the short-, medium- and long-term.

There’s a curious thing, too, about coaching.

Carrie’s testimonial is a reflection of just how extraordinary she is.

At the same time, in my experience, successful coaching demonstrates just how ordinary it is to be extraordinary.

Finding perspective and direction

photo from the album
The London Symphony Chorus in rehearsal

Over the years, many clients have come to me by referral.  Sometimes, they are referred by people who know me well.  Sometimes clients self-refer.  It is always a particular privilege when someone chooses to ask for help whom I know personally, including friends and family.

Recently, friends and family have been amongst those coming forward to support my new Sunday coaching clinic at 1, Harley Street.  One of them is my dear friend Clare Rowe.  Clare and I met through our membership of the London Symphony Chorus and she had this to say about the times we met in coaching partnership:

“I have made two professional visits only to Dorothy at a time in my life when looking deep into myself needed to be shared – to find perspective and direction –  they were life changing meetings. Dorothy’s gifts of empathy, intelligence and perception allow discovery of self within the context of being human, what more valuable kinship do we require as human beings on our journey together?”

I offer my special thanks to Clare for her willingness to share publicly what her experience of coaching meant to her.

Making life-altering decisions with ease and confidence

As the news spreads that I am now offering a Sunday coaching clinic in Harley Street, I have been touched by people’s willingness to offer help and support.  A number of people have written, unbidden, testimonials on my Facebook page.  Each one of them is dear to my heart, because I know how much difference it can make to work with someone in coaching partnership.

The testimonial below is is especially dear to me because it comes from friend and colleague Steve Mattus, who is a fellow student with Mark Silver at the Heart of Business.  (I could easily go into a rave about Mark Silver at this point… suffice it to say that good people succeed not only because they have products or services to offer which are of value but also because they find a way to reach those people for whom what they offer is really beneficial.  Mark Silver is someone I value highly in the help he provides to people like me as we seek to share our offering with the people we are best suited to help.)

Through my work with Mark, it’s also been a great pleasure to form a Mastermind Group (we have come to think of it as our Wisemind Group) with Steve Mattus, Marc Otto and Melanya Helene.  Our regular calls are a source of mutual inspiration, support and safety… a place where we can share our doubts and fears, our challenges and our woes, as well as a place where we can celebrate successes and plan for the future.  Steve was one of the first people to write on my Facebook page and has kindly given me permission to share his comments here, too:

Dorothy, I’m thrilled to see you stepping out, waving your flag and offering the gift of your craft to the public.  You have made a huge, positive impact on my life, in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances.

You’ve helped me get crystal clear regarding what’s really going on in my heart and mind so I could make life-altering decisions with ease and confidence.  You help me notice the subtleties in my experience, and teach me how to relate to them so I can resolve blocks and eliminate what’s keeping me stuck.  All the while, you’re helping me make sure I’m taking care of me, my heart and soul.  This allows me to show up in my life, work and with family with deep integrity and authenticity, making life flow with much greater ease.

Thank you for helping me release my struggle, and replace it with joy.

Steve Mattus
My thanks, to Steve, too, for sharing.

Focussing on what is essential

Sometimes, a question in coaching can hit the nail on the head

Over the years, working with men and women in leadership roles, I’ve often found that, beneath the surface agenda – whatever that might be – lie questions of personal and professional well-being.  The issue may not be, for example, how can you improve your performance in this job?  Instead, there may be a calling to another role which is being ignored and which, still, seeks to be acknowledged and explored.  Or perhaps, behind questions of professional excellence lie questions of personal happiness – of work/life balance, of priorities outside of work which are being ignored… you get the drift.

Sometimes, clients bring issues which are wholly practical, such as how to reflect their skills, experience and accomplishments in a CV in ways which make it more likely they will be invited to interview.  Often, even the most practical questions reveal broader and deeper questions which are waiting to be explored.  There is, after all, little benefit to be had in getting a first interview for a job to which you are wholly unsuited.  Equally, in the kind of challenging times we live in at the moment, clients risk grasping for the job they think they can easily attract at the expense of thinking through how best they contribute or what it is they really yearn to do.

The underlying question is this:  who am I?  The more we build a life which is rooted in the firm foundations of knowing who we are (and who we are becoming) the more we are able to build a life which is a gift to ourselves and to others.  This is a life in which we can feel comfortable and congruent, and which becomes the means by which we find meaning and make a difference in the world.

Last week, when I announced the beginning of a Sunday coaching clinic at the Lewis Clinic in Harley Street, it was these issues that I had in mind.  I am seeing the Lewis Clinic as a place where people can work with me who want to focus on questions of personal and professional well-being away from their place of work.  Some of them will be those I already work with – leaders who want to take the hard work out of achieving results.  Perhaps there will be others, too – people for whom questions of personal or professional well-being are uppermost.

In the few days since I first started to share news of the Sunday coaching clinic, I have been heartened by the response of a wide variety of people.  One of them is a dear friend who also commissioned a coaching session at a time when she was considering her forward path.  She responded immediately when I sent her my news – “compelled to reply” – and offered the following testimonial.  You’ll also find it on LinkedIn and on my Facebook page for the clinic:

“I met with Dorothy at a time when I was wondering about taking a sabbatical.  I was concerned that time out would ‘damage my career’.  After only one consultation, I had clarified my needs, and planned a course of action.  Six months on, I’ve not only had a wonderfully enriching sabbatical, but the type of work coming through is more fulfilling.  I can wholeheartedly recommend Dorothy for her compassion, insight and unparalleled skill in focusing on what is essential.”

Special Occupational Therapist, London

I want to finish by saying how grateful I am to those clients who share their feedback with me in private and, on occasions like this, with others who may also benefit from an investment in coaching.

Working with Dorothy – a collaborative partnership

Sometimes, though not always, the way a client sees you is so similar to the way you see yourself or to the person you aspire to be that, on reading it, you have a sense of “coming home” – of stepping just a little bit more fully into who you really are.  This was the sense I had on reading the testimonial below.

This testimonial comes from Dave Eccleston, who recently left his job as Head of Integrated Talent Management, Europe with Pitney Bowes to embark on a new chapter of self employment.  I particularly value it because Dave speaks from the perspective of commissioning client – the person who, within his business, was responsible for sourcing the support needed by his colleagues across the business.  I am grateful to Dave for his permission to share it here on my blog:

I first met Dorothy after a colleague recommended her as a potential executive coach for a senior leader.  I really appreciated the way she took time to explain her approach to coaching in the context of the opportunity being discussed.  Her style is friendly, engaging and warm coupled with an ability to ask searching questions to get to the heart of the situation to identify the value she can bring to a coaching assignment.  My experience of working with her has been that of a collaborative partnership.  Subsequently Dorothy coached a number of leaders at various levels within the organisation.

The feedback received from those she has coached consistently focused on the depth of the relationship forged with Dorothy, and on how hard she made them think about their situation and what they wanted for the future.  One senior leader commented that he had never in his career faced so many searching questions in such a short space of time which had been posed in such a friendly manner to clarify the need.

On a personal note, Dorothy has been very generous with her time in helping me think through a couple of career challenges.  For me, working with Dorothy is always stimulating and a pleasure.

I have no hesitation in recommending Dorothy as an executive coach. 

Dave Eccleston
Formerly Head of Integrated Talent Management, Europe
Pitney Bowes

When you need permission to see the wood from the trees

Every now and then I like to do something that coaches call ‘claiming a client’.  It’s a bit like asking someone you fancy to join you on a first date – letting someone know that you’d really like to work with them in coaching partnership.

In 2007 I reached out to an organisation whose service I have enjoyed for more years now than I care to remember:  Pret a Manger.  I wrote to the company’s co-founder, Julian Metcalfe, and told him how much I would like to contribute to the company’s success in my role as a coach.  As a result of reaching out I was asked to work with Glenn Edwards as part of his ongoing development.  Glenn has been Operations Director at Leon Restaurants for over 18 months now, though I first met him whilst he was still working at itsu – Pret a Manger’s sister company.  He had already had eight years with itsu when I met him and had built a strong relationship with Julian Metcalfe and with Clive Schlee, the company’s CEO.

Even so, when I started to talk with Glenn, I sensed that there was a risk for him of seeking to grow faster than was comfortable with itsu and I started to ask questions to find out what was going on.  As you can tell from Glenn’s later CV, he did indeed end up leaving itsu to join a growing brand which shares the Pret/itsu passion for good fresh food and for a level of service which, together, drew me to Pret a Manger in the first place.  (Recently, Pret’s new restaurant on New Oxford Street has become a regular haunt for members of the London Symphony Chorus before rehearsals.  You’ll often see me there on a Wednesday or Thursday evening at around 6pm).

The conversations I had with Glenn are an example of something coaches face on a regular basis – the possibility that the outcome a client and/or his or her sponsor most desires is not, ultimately, the right outcome for everyone concerned.  An individual may think his place is in such-and-such a role or with company X and still, when he looks more deeply, the role is only a partial fit to his or her most heartfelt needs.  The company concerned may want to retain a key member of the team and still – if only his or her manager will entertain the possibility – it may be that what’s right for my client is to move on.  This carries the risk for the coach of being seen as the agent of an unwelcome change.  It carries the risk for the coach that – by raising the question – he or she will be seen to be sure of the answer (which is always the client’s to determine).  Still, and even in the full awareness of these and other risks, it is the role of the coach to raise the questions that have not yet been countenanced, bringing them to consciousness for the client to consider.

Meeting with Glenn more than three years after we completed our coaching, I was curious to know how he looked back on our work together as well as how he was getting on in his new role.  He was kind enough to tell me and agreed to allow me to share his thoughts on LinkedIn as well as here on my blog.  He told me:

“When we finished our work together I honestly didn’t know how I’d benefitted from coaching.  A lot of things happened during and after coaching and yet I wasn’t making the link.  Later, I realised that the message from coaching was this:  it’s time to move on.

I realised I’d maximised my potential with itsu – coaching helped me to see it was time to move on.  I’d met the owners of Leon when they visited one of our restaurants so once I was ready to move it was the most natural thing in the world to make contact.  Working with itsu was formative for me – an important part of my career.  At the same time, I needed a new challenge and the opportunity to leverage my strengths to make a real difference to the business.  I’m glad to have found that with Leon.

Sometimes, people need the help from someone who’s one step removed from the situation.  You provided that through our coaching – and that’s why I’m happy to recommend you to others who need help to step back and see the wood from the trees”.

Glenn Edwards
Leon Restaurants

Reading Glenn’s testimonial I don’t want to take any more credit than is mine to take – at its best, coaching works because it helps the client to open up to truths that are already there if only the permission is there to see them.

(And yes, in case you’re wondering, I remain a fan of Pret a Manger, of itsu – and of Leon Restaurants, too).

Compassion: fuel for progress and accountability

It has long been my view that accountability – including accountability to ourselves – works best when it rests firmly on a compassionate foundation.  It’s all very well to harangue ourselves when we are not making the progress we crave or think we ought but somehow, the haranguing doesn’t make the progress any faster.  Indeed, it tends to depress our spirits and to make us more cautious about or resistant to taking our next steps.
Given this view, I am not the best coach for any client who wants to be “whipped into shape”.  When it comes to checking progress at the top of a coaching meeting I tend to prefer curiosity over any metaphorical flagellation.  If a client hasn’t taken the steps they thought they would (maybe if they still haven’t taken they steps they thought they would) I prefer to explore than to judge or condemn.  Often, the exploration brings new clarity or insights.  Perhaps a client needs help to overcome some inner resistance or to plug a gap in their skills or resources.  Perhaps s/he needs to check if a course of action really does hit the spot.
It’s always a matter of celebration for me when this philosophy is reflected in feedback from a coaching client, as it is below.  For why would we take the hard road when there is a more compassionate route which takes us more quickly to our destination?  And who wouldn’t want a client to achieve outstanding results within a framework of compassion?
This is what one client said about her experience of coaching:
I signed up for weekly telephone coaching with Dorothy following a recommendation from one of her clients who is also a friend of mine.  Initially I thought we’d work for three months or so but several times I extended the coaching and we ended up working for about eight months.
Dorothy facilitated the coaching each week, helping me to identify areas in which I most wanted help.  I thought coaching would be far more instructive than it was but it was me who came up with the answers and next steps.  I valued her empathy – she was extremely caring and supportive which, in hindsight, I needed more than a “crack of the whip”.  She was objective and constructive, and helped me to get clear on what I needed and to take steps forward.  I particularly valued the way she helped me to notice and congratulate myself on some of my achievements, which gave me added motivation and momentum.
As a result of our work together, I’m much clearer than I was about the kind of culture that I want to work in.  I decided to move from a contracting role to a senior corporate role where I’m now adding value and feeling good about myself.  I’ve also taken a look at the leadership qualities I want to exhibit and am taking steps to develop in key areas.
Celestine Hyde
Vice President
Investment Banking

When you’re looking for new ways of thinking

Sometimes, testimonials come totally unsolicited as a joyful surprise.  This is one of them, from Rob Mesrie on Facebook BranchOut.

I confess I didn’t know BranchOut existed.  I do, though, know Rob.  During our work together as volunteers for Ian McDermott at ITS’ NLP and Coaching trainings, I came to hold Rob with high regard.  I count him as a dear friend and join him as a member of the mutual admiration club.

This is what he wrote:

“Top rate coach. Never falters from creating a space that gives you access to a way of thinking you had never even considered.”

Creating the climate for success

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, in their book The New Leaders, identify the range of leadership styles that leaders draw on and highlight those styles that create a climate for success.  This is what they call “resonant leadership” and they contrast this with the use of styles which, if overused, create “dissonant leadership”.  The key here is “if overused” – all the styles identified in the research have a role to play when used effectively.
Developing a repertoire of leadership styles and the capability to use them effectively is not easy.  Many of us lack strong role models to emulate so that we just don’t know what “highly effective” looks like when it comes to leadership.  Perhaps we will copy leaders (from our parents, teachers and other childhood figures to our managers at work) without even recognising the implications of their chosen approach.  By copying poor role-models in this way we repeat the behaviours that were not effective first time round.  Perhaps we will try hard to do anything but what they did.  This carries a particular challenge:  whilst we may know what we don’t want to do, how do we know what to do instead?
At the same time, making effective adjustments to our approach can yield benefits all round, as the testimonial below highlights.  I’m grateful to Fabienne Luisetti, with whom I worked in coaching partnership during 2010, for sharing her experiences.  If you’d like to know more about how I work with clients please follow this link for details of how to contact me to arrange a complimentary consultation.
Meantime, this is what Fabienne had to say about her experience of working with a coach:

There came a point where my reputation of being a fair but tough leader became an obstacle to both my career and my well-being. Whilst projects were completed and goals achieved, people were bruised along the way and, at times, I would be living with negative feelings in the evening from my interactions with others during the day.  Having gone through all the leadership programmes available in our company, I decided I needed a more focused one-to-one coaching programme and this is when I started working with Dorothy.

Right from the start Dorothy was very professional in her approach and created the right environment of trust for me to express my feelings, thoughts and reactions.  She challenged a few pain points and also helped me to distil feedback from others and my own work into key areas to focus on.  Her willingness to share theory and to describe others’ experiences helped me to place my situation in perspective. I am delighted to provide this testimonial.

How has coaching worked for me?  A 1:1 coaching program with set milestones was particularly motivational.  At every meeting, I wanted to show progress.  Therefore, in between two coaching sessions, I tried a few new strategies to be able to report upon.  When I realised they were working well for me and the people around me, I was motivated to try further.  This is the way I achieved my three personal coaching objectives;  I am now engaging people and teams in a more collaborative manner;  I can feel people contribute to my projects in a more spontaneous way not because they have to but because they want to.  And I feel good about progressing projects, keeping within deadlines in a much softer way.

Fabienne Luisetti

Coaching: opening up new perspectives

Sometimes, the fact that we are doing our job well and enjoying it can blind us to the potential we have for a role which takes us (to borrow from Gay Hendricks in his book The Big Leap) beyond our “zone of excellence” to explore our “zone of genius”. This is what I sensed in Graham Parris when we began our work together in coaching partnership.

To find ourselves in our zone of excellence and with more to give does not always mean that we need to jump ship in search of something new. Rather, it often implies checking in, taking stock, beginning the process of tuning in to our intuitive voice – what some call our inner wisdom and guidance. Often, the job we already have takes on new meaning and significance when we can see it in the context of the larger picture of our lives.

I was thrilled to meet Graham at a time when there was scope for him to look at this bigger picture and to support him in taking a step back from his immediate concerns and to begin to ask: what do I really want from my career going forward? This is what Graham said about our work together:

When I started working with Dorothy I didn’t expect to be changing jobs immediately. Even so, Dorothy challenged me to look at what I really wanted in my life and career so that when I then needed to look for a new job I had already started to develop a different perspective on what I wanted and I had begun to imagine what it might feel and look like when I’d got there.

Coaching has been the most personal developmental opportunity I’ve ever had – intensely personal. For me, it’s been an opportunity to find and try out new approaches to things I’ve done all my life and an opportunity to identify and address areas where I’m holding myself back. So coaching has been timely for me with the biggest outcome being that I’ve given myself permission to think about things differently if I want to.

As my coach Dorothy supported me in working from the assumption that I have the answers within me and that has worked well for me. She set the scene well at the beginning of our work together and she challenged me in ways which have left me more empowered. As well as paying attention to the coaching process – showing up on time, helping me to set goals, checking in with me etc. – she brought immense coaching skills. I also enjoyed the way she wrote blog postings as a way of offering more content when it was helpful.

Graham Parris
White Consultants (WCL)