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Nancy Spreckley has over 25 years senior management experience and completed the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching with AoEC Scotland. Now semi-retired, Nancy talks about how her professional coach training and how she brings a wealth of coaching development expertise to her clients and The Lennox Partnership (TLP) board, where she actively supports the growth of employment and associated skills for the benefit of the community.
What is your professional background and what made you decide to sign up for the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma course?
I have over 25 years senior management experience, working in media and the financial industry contact centres. One of my key attributes is personal development, in particular, honing skills where people get the best out of their teams, self and ultimately, their customers. I took voluntary redundancy at the age of 59, which helped me invest in a Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching in 2017. Given my background, this course felt like a natural progression for me to explore the world of coaching, so my new journey with self, began.
What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the Diploma?
It was a fascinating experience, I met a fantastic group of new people, all aiming to pursue a career in coaching from a diverse background, the training itself was both interesting and challenging, you were seeking all the answers yourself but with great support from the qualified experts and your colleagues in the background. I learnt so much about myself and my coaching style, which challenged me in many different ways. You almost have to unravel what you knew about coaching, in order to open yourself up to new ideas. Some of it was a bit scary at times and felt a bit raw, however, it was a great learning curve for me personally and has made me a better coach. A good example of this was listening, being truly present with the clients and learning to clear your head of any ‘gremlins’ (e.g. your own thoughts). Once you achieve this, your coaching relationships will improve leaps and bounds!
What would be your top piece of advice for anyone thinking about training to become a professional coach?
I would say explore all options, do your research, ask questions, seek testimonials, speak to previous students for best practice, attend free seminars – all of these things will help you come to the right decision. Ask yourself “what do I aim to get out of this course, and how will it/I help in my own journey?” Like good coaching, the answer will come to you.
How has your personal coaching model evolved since completing the diploma programme?
That’s an interesting question. My previous experience was using the GROW model, which is fairly standard across corporate organisations. I quickly realised through this course, it was not my chosen model for future, as it felt too linear and restrictive for me personally. My coaching model has progressed, as with each new client, I learn more about myself and my style, through different client relationships. It’s the wonderful thing about coaching, you find yourself continually learning and adapting to client needs, they are all different and diverse, so as a coach, I find flexibility in style is key. I also have taken up 1-2-1 supervision, which means that I can explore any coaching challenges with a qualified AoEC supervisor, which I highly recommend.
How is coaching being used/offered by the Lennox Partnership where you work as a non-executive director?
I attend the Lennox Partnership (TLP) board meetings along with a group of directors from all different and diverse backgrounds. We aim to support TLP and discuss ideas to make the not for profit organisation, more successful. As part of my diploma, I was expected to deliver 45 hours of coaching, free of charge, and was delighted to offer my skills to one of the TLP project managers over a 6-week period. I set up an initial contract meeting, with the client and the sponsor, delivered the coaching sessions, and closed with a final contract meeting, with all parties satisfied outcomes had been met.
Can you tell us about some of the issues you coach people around?
They are varied, however, one common theme, particularly in the work environment, is self-confidence and being taken seriously. Most of my clients have some issues around how they project themselves to others, and want to address this, without causing conflict. Self-esteem seems to crop up both in the workplace and in their personal lives too.
What sort of impact is coaching having on the individuals you are working with?
Very positive in the main, my current client is dyslexic which she volunteered. She has a major illness which has affected every aspect of her life and has had an uphill battle with the medical professionals in terms of expressing how this has impacted her and her family. Through a different approach, e.g. using visuals and good use of metaphors, she has been able to produce an extensive document explaining all and has submitted this to the professionals. In her own words, she could never have done this without the help of a coach which has transformed her confidence and given her credibility in telling her own story, in her own words! She is an inspiration to us all!
Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that had an impact on you?
I did not realise how much our former lives, can affect us through to midlife. On occasions, and dependent on my client, I sometimes use coaching cards, with the client’s permission. One client chose a question which said, “Looking back, what would you change in your life, and do differently?” She hesitated but decided to disclose a very personal situation which she experienced as a child, and one which she never gained closure on. There was lots of tears, anger and frustration however, she was glad she expressed this to me and was able to state what she would change. For me, as a coach, this was new territory and it made me realise, that coaching (no matter how raw), has the ability to enable people to feel, express and state their emotions as part of their recovery and I was able to share with her, how her story impacted me.
How can interventions like coaching help organisations similar to the Lennox Partnership achieve strong results?
I believe organisations need to invest in all their people and not just their leadership teams. Invest in a top-quality coaching strategy which delivers a concise message of the corporate vision, values and aims - one where everyone benefits – employees, company, customers and stakeholders. Time, money and a clear vision of what is expected including the coach/es. If everyone is onboard, then results and performance will flow.
What has coaching taught you about yourself and other people?
A great deal. I have had to learn to process my thinking a lot clearer and with less speed. Let me explain. I came from a background, where the two words from the top were “speed and agility”. You were in a very fast paced environment, where solutions were expected without haste. So, when I came to into coaching initially, I still had that mantra, however, learned the hard way, to slow down, and was shown the benefits of doing so. In coaching, it is better to go with the flow, you coach at client pace as this is a luxury, they seldom have it also makes you, a better coach. I have learned to move into the slow lane and guess what, I’m loving it! As for other people, listen with absolute presence, watch and feel their body language, sit in their shoes, and be with them all the way. They are all human beings, and their journeys are all different, but as I see it, I help them “unstick what they are stuck with”. Keep it simple and treat everyone as important individuals who do not need fixing, just help getting unstuck.
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about your work as a professional coach?
Most challenging is trying to tease out the real story from clients to establish what it is they actually want to change or understand. It does come in time, client’s time, however, being gentle with the approach and with client permission, helps enormously. Building trust in the coaching relationship does take time, and once this is achieved, that’s when the magic begins to unfold. Most rewarding, when a client gets unstuck! It could just be the realisation, or it could be when the client says, that’s me I’m done for now. That’s when I know I have done a good job and get a referral!
A huge thank you to Nancy for sharing her inspiring story of executive coach training with us.
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