Advanced Practitioner Diploma / “Be not afraid to go into the unknown”

24th October by Lee Robertson

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Richard Roberts comes from a highly successful career with senior director positions in the software, technology and telecommunications industries and was managing director of two of BT’s businesses in Europe. Richard now combines his commercial operational experience at director level with a deep knowledge of executive coaching in service of his clients. Here he gives us his take on coach training with the AoEC.

You have had a stellar career in senior leadership roles such as MD at BT Italy and MD of BT Portugal and now run your own consultancy. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?

Over 10 years ago, I set up my own business as a leadership and organisation development consultant. Relatively early on, I decided that I needed to refresh my coaching skills. After researching the market, talking to a wide variety of individuals and organisations, I embarked on the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching with AoEC.  The course completely re-energised my coaching, it expanded my network, and it enabled me to develop my business on a solid foundation. Gradually over the years, I have focused more and more on becoming a coach, and that continues to this day.

What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching?

I determined to embark on the course with fresh eyes and to embrace each experience on the course as an opportunity to learn and develop my skills. The course Faculty and the other course members were instrumental in enabling this approach and were very supportive. I really enjoyed the course and found that it stretched me in new and exciting ways. I particularly enjoyed the very practical approach and the emphasis on practise, practise, practise, and the opportunity to derive learning from every situation. The diversity of the other people on the course was very enriching, and I was able to learn so much more given the wide range of backgrounds and experience.

What is your advice to others considering coach training?

Go with the flow. Embrace it with the joy of learning, with that childlike enthusiasm for a new and exciting world. Look to support others on the course and seek their support. Treat every moment as an opportunity to experience and learn about yourself, about others, and about your skills and knowledge of coaching. Let go of your assumptions about yourself and about others. Be not afraid to go into the unknown. Pursue your questions, uncertainties, and doubts about yourself, for that is where the most valuable learning is to be found.

Looking back at doing your training with the Advanced Practitioner and Practitioner diplomas, what has been the lasting impact on you as a person and you as a coach?

Confidence in ‘who I am’ and in my skills and knowledge of coaching. Patience, pace, creativity, love, and gratitude for my clients and their organisations. Enjoying the opportunity to connect and support them in their growth and learning. My belief in each client’s potential as a human being, their ability to learn and grow. The importance of being in the moment with each client, that ‘not knowing’ is a vital part of coaching, and it is this that has enabled me to let go of the urge to parade my solutions, rather than supporting the client in finding their solutions. Freedom in approach, allowing creativity and flexibility in each moment with each client. 

Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how this has evolved since doing the Practitioner and Advanced Practitioner diplomas?

In summary my coaching model is to bring all of who I am, (my wisest, most patient, most still self, and my most connected self), in serving my clients. In preparation for each coaching session, I value the importance of my meditation practise in enabling me to be at my best in working with my clients. I seek to embody ‘not knowing’ and ‘not needing to know’. I seek to treasure each moment with each client as being utterly valuable, and I seek to validate and celebrate their development/learning journey as they step forward. It is equally important to me that they ‘own’ their journey, their choices, their learning. 

The Advanced Diploma in Executive Coaching is accredited with both the EMCC and ICF. How important has accreditation with one of the industry’s professional bodies been to you personally?

The accreditation has been important as it has encouraged me in my own professional development. It has also helped me to map what the next steps in my development might be. 

You established your own practice Positive Consultancy in 2013; can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with?

I work with a wide variety of clients, and for me that variety is important. I get as much satisfaction from working with a senior leader as I do with a young leader starting out on their career journey. Equally I value greatly the work I do with the ‘Not for Profit’ sector, the public sector and with my individual clients. I do not focus on a particular sector. I have completely let go of the idea that I need to know about a sector for me to work there. I am currently working with a leadership team in the technology/software sector, individuals in banking, ‘not for profit’, freelance, construction and healthcare. I particularly enjoy working with organisations and individuals from a wide variety of geographies. I also have a small supervision practise from which I get enormous value.  

What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach clients around and what kind of impact is the coaching having?

The range of issues that I coach on seems ever expanding. Each situation is unique to each client and each client brings their own lovely, complex human nature to their own situation. I seek to help them to see the uniqueness of their situation and of themselves, and to do this without judgement. I support them in finding their wisest self to help them make choices about what it is that they need to do. Although sometimes their work can be tough, I seek to help them to find their joy in what they are doing, and to help them to live their lives more fully as themselves. I seek to provide each client a safe place in which they can do their work, and to support them through validating them, their choices, and all of who they are and who they wish to become. I seek to do the above with as much grace and joy as I can muster, recognising that I too am a fallible human being. 

Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that had an impact on you?

Without doubt the coaching situation that has had the biggest impact on me has come from my ongoing work with my coaching supervisor – Andrew Machon. He and my coaching colleagues in our supervision group have supported me over many years, challenging me, stretching me, validating me. Andrew has been an amazing role model, whilst at the same time supporting me in the work that I am doing to be the best coach and the best human being that I can be. I could not have asked for more.

What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?

Everything. I love that everything that I have ever done, everything that I have ever learnt, everything that I have ever wanted to be, and everything that I am connected to is relevant and accessible to me through my work. 

Our deepest thanks to Richard for sharing his personal experience of coach training with the AoEC.