Kate Hunter describes herself as a mother, recovering perfectionist, former teacher and corporate high achiever turned executive coach. Having graduated from the AoEC’S Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching, Kate established her own consultancy in December 2018 and dedicates her time to helping executive women become unstuck in order to REVIVE their Purpose, Mind-Set and Goals. She agreed to take some time out to speak to us about her own inspiring journey and work.
You have a very varied and interesting professional background having worked as a primary school teacher before a long career at 3M. What introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma course?
I’ve been coaching in various capacities for all of my working life, from my teaching days to my work as an L&D specialist and then sales manager within the corporate world. Essentially learning and development and supporting others to grow is part of the core essence of who I am! When I knew that the next path for me was setting up my own business, I knew I wanted to update my coaching skills and gain a formal qualification/accreditation. I looked at various reputable programmes, but an ex-colleague of mine had recently graduate with the AoEC! When I spoke to him about it, the one differentiating factor for me was that one of the fundamental questions that gets explored within the programme is: Who am I? And Who am I as a coach? This was spot on for what I needed! Especially as I was already starting to think about my brand for my own business.
What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?
So many positives! Way more than I could ever have expected, and on so many levels - the people, the practise, the learning and the challenges.
Firstly, I have had real light bulb moments around the role of our own ego in limiting the quality and effectiveness of our coaching skills. The phrase ‘in service of the client’ pairs nicely with this learning for me and it’s a phrase I repeat to myself for preparing to be ‘ready’ for the coaching experience that I use in my model.
The module where we delved in to the more creative methods to deepen and forward the learning for our coachee was incredible for me! I learnt that using appropriate creative techniques can really lead the exploration of topics and issues onto a different depth; one where level three listening can really take place. This process is still fairly new to me and I’m learning to become more confident with using these techniques, but I see a place for them, where appropriate, within my coaching sessions.
During this diploma, I learnt that I have a real strength for using intuition in my coaching practice. I always knew in my personal life that I was fairly intuitive but I don’t believe I made good use of this within a coaching capacity; I do now. That’s why I enjoyed learning about the Co-active Coaching model so much, as the principals resonated highly with me – with a strong focus on intuition.
In a recent testimonial one of my practice clients said that she felt I was ‘extremely intuitive’ and used this intuition to work with her to ‘really root out what was holding me back’. I have enjoyed learning about this and see this as a key learning for me – to listen to my intuition and offer it where appropriate. It helps that I have a natural curiosity and a genuine love for helping others to reach new levels of learning and effectiveness, and to help them reach their goals.
Before I started on my diploma, I was all set to set up a business that mainly fitted the corporate appeal of an L&D/coaching company. The epiphany for me has been that this does not light me up! This will not equal fulfilment for me and I need to stop doing what I think I should do, the sensible route, and do what fills my heart and soul - and that is: working with individuals on their own path of development, and own path to happiness and fulfilment in the here and now! Therefore, I developed a personal brand - authenticity has been key for my journey and value I hold firm on.
What would be your top piece of advice for anyone thinking about doing a professional coach training programme?
Start with your core Why – why are you looking to do professional coach training? What do you need to gain from the experience, and how will that impact those that you coach? Also, speak to ex-graduates! There’s nothing quite like speaking to others who have been through the programme. Ask lots of questions and then make the leap! You won’t regret it.
What personal qualities and values do you bring to your coaching work?
I remember being asked by one of the programme leaders: ‘What Kateness do you bring to my coaching that differentiates you from others?’ What a thought-provoking question! Once which my four months with the AoEC helped give me clarity on. These are some of those extra qualities about me that I bring to the coaching experience: Authenticity, Intuition, Compassion, Spirituality, Fun and Growth focus.
You have focused your coaching model ‘Revive and Redefine’ around finding and shifting your Ikigai. Can you tell us more about your programme works and how this has evolved since completing the diploma?
I have indeed! I am very passionate about helping others explore and discover their ‘Ikigai’ aka their ‘Purpose’.
Ikigai (pronounced ‘Ick-ee-guy) means ‘reason for being’ and is a Japanese lifestyle practise that seeks to balance practical and spiritual wellbeing. Your Ikigai is your reason for getting out of bed every morning and it’s ever evolving. It’s what motivates you to revel in and appreciate your life. Every Single Day. It’s the sweet spot between Passion (The intersection of what you are GOOD at, and what you LOVE), Vocation (the intersection of what the world needs and what you can be paid for), Mission (what you LOVE and what the world NEEDS) and Profession (what you can get PAID for and what you are GOOD at).
In Japan, you don’t retire you simply shift your Ikigai. You stop your working role and your Ikigai shifts to community and family – essentially Ikigai is a long-term practise that you can renew, redefine, evolve all throughout your life.
My Revive and Redefine coaching programme runs over three months and clients have a mix of modular workbooks to complete alongside their six coaching sessions with me. I’m now going to be launching this in March as a group coaching programme also, which will hopefully mean that I can help more women.
Can you tell us about setting up your own coaching practice and the type of clients you are working with?
I’m on a mission to help 200+ women this year to work on their Purpose, Mindset and Goals so that they can achieve the success that they want, on their terms. My clients come from all kinds of industries and job roles but tend to have risen quite far up the ladder in their executive level careers (and done so quickly), yet they have a niggle inside that there ‘must be more to life’. They feel stuck between the unfulfilled place that they are in, and the unknown. At best they have been sacrificing and existing in life, at worst, they are close to burnout and on an endless cycle of self-sabotage.
In our work together we explore their current reality, their limiting beliefs, their mindset and often their definition of success and failure. I then go with them on the journey to whatever their desired future state is.
You have set up a Facebook support group. How does this work for your clients?
I have a wonderful community over on Facebook which is a support group called ‘The Lounge for high achieving women’. This is open to all women, not just my clients. This supports my mission which I detailed above – the more I can help, the better!
The purpose of the group is to bring like -minded women together where they can learn, support each other and grow.
In March I also have plans to launch a group coaching programme that is accessible to more women! Watch this space!
What are some of the issues you coach people around?
Many of the women I work with feel stuck and disillusioned with their career paths and their lives… but I also coach those who are more proactively seeking a coach because they have big plans to reach the next level, but they want to do so by honouring their need for balance and wellbeing in theirs – they want Success without Sacrifice.
It’s holistic coaching, so whilst someone may initially come to me with a primary focus of career development, or seeking a new role, or setting up their own business; what we actually do is look at all areas of their life and agree the way forward. I use a tool that I call ‘The Life Compass’ to help us establish where they are now, where they want to be and the work that needs to be done to make sustainable movement towards that place.
I coach women who have come to me directly, and also within their organisation where they have sponsors.
What kind of impact is coaching having on the individuals you are working with?
I’m proud to say that the impact of the coaching space I create with my clients is pretty life changing and transformative.
Here are some typical results I have had the honour of witnessing in my coaching practice:
- - Women completely pivoting their career direction to step into a more fulfilling and rewarding career that maximises their strengths, fits their values, and delivers them the balance that they want for their family and lives
- - Women leaving the corporate world to set up a business and do what really lights them up every day and do it very successfully!
- - Ladies who actually come back from the brink of burnout to thrive!
- - Ladies finally owning their value and achieving the substantial pay rise that they have been putting off asking for
- - Women going for new roles that now balance fully what their new definitions of success is, and negotiating their terms with clear focus and conviction
- - Women achieving better relationships at home and at work because they’ve been able to work on what really matters for them, put healthy boundaries in place and live their lives to them
- - Women working 90 hours or more a week who are now able to start living their lives again without stress, with purpose, and with a healthy mindset
- - Women unravel from perfectionism and an unhealthy mindset fuelled by imposter-based thoughts – and become more aware of their thought habits and regain control of their beliefs, their relationships, and their diaries as a result.
Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that had an impact on you?
In 2019 I had a client find me who was on the brink of burnout and we were able to work together to redefine her value, her priorities, her self-worth and steer her away from a mindset of fear and lack to help her manage her circumstances, and build a better life for herself. She’s now thriving in her life. Seeing her to continue to strengthen, grow and do it all with such awareness and consideration for herself and what she truly wants from her life and career, is one of my proudest achievements as a coach and has had a massive impact. Cases like these give me true purpose.
What has coaching taught you about yourself and other people?
Oh wow – huge amounts! I continue to learn and grow through coaching others and being coached myself.
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about your work as a coach?
Most challenging is maintaining coaching boundaries when you can sometimes spend so much time and invest so much in to your clients. I’m a very personable and compassionate and sometimes clients test me on my boundaries. We contract for this topic at the beginning of a coaching relationship but we also re-visit and recontract for these as and when this comes up. I’m thankful for the work I did with the AoEC on this topic as this is my guiding light (Always Be Contracting) ;) I’ve also added this to my T&Cs document as a firm reminder of expectations.
The next biggest challenge for me is preserving and protecting my energy. Holding space for a client during a coaching session can take a lot of energy depending on the nature of the session. I have learnt to be mindful of this and brought some meditation time in before or after a session if it is required. It’s important to allow enough space to prepare and recharge before and after coaching sessions.
Most rewarding is seeing my clients make the necessary changes and shifts in their lives and seeing all the results that I shared above. I still pinch myself that I am able to call this my daily work and grateful that I have found my Ikigai.
An enormous thank you to Kate for sharing her personal story with us.
If you would like to discover more about coaching and training as a coach, do come along to one of our free upcoming virtual open events or webinars.
Have a look at our website if you would like to know more about the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching.