Practitioner Diploma / “I wish I had done it years ago”

21st June by Lee Robertson

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After a long and rewarding career in the military and senior leadership roles with organisations including Babcock International, Adam MacMillan-Scott is concentrating his passion on his new business, Jointhedots Coaching. We had the immense pleasure of catching up with him to find out about his experience of completing the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching and his plans after making the transition to his third career as a self-employed coach.

You have over 20 years working in senior leadership roles with brands including Babcock International. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?

A friend had just completed a coaching course and talked about it. She was so enthused and excited by it and the fact that she was able to help people do different things. I thought that sounds perfect for me. I was hooked on the idea and what it stood for, and it seemed a natural progression to my career to date.

I had a look for a course to do and eventually landed on the AoEC as the best option. The AoEC’s diploma programme fitted my requirements very well (content, residential time, experiential and approach) as I had a demanding job, plus I had read material on it in terms of future accreditation. The business paid for it because my boss could see the benefits of coaching within the team. I attended the one-day open event which cemented the plan to apply. In fact, I wished I had done it years before!

What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?

Fundamentally, upon reflection I truly realised who I was and what I could bring to the coaching world in support of coachees. It resonated strongly with my military career where at Sandhurst the motto is to “Serve to Lead” and with my leadership style. So, for me, my role in life has been to help other people, to empower and enable them. It fits perfectly with my DNA.

I also have a strong personal foundation which in turn gives me inner strength to bring to the coaching, plus real positivity and energy. It reaffirmed my values and confirmed my wish to support others in growing, either personally or professionally, especially when they doubt themselves.

There were challenges too. Realising that a lifetime of leading people doesn’t qualify you as a coach; there’s much more to it of course! One of my instructors on the programme made that clear early on around asking questions and my intuition and empathy were certainly put to the test, as was my ability to listen! It was a very valid lesson for me in that I had to stop trying to solve the client’s problems when I believed I had the answer up my sleeve.

What is your top advice to others considering coach training?

Experiential learning is important because you have got to experience it for yourself. That is valuable because you coach each other, and you learn to learn far better that way. You have to be honest and open to challenge.

Looking back at doing your diploma, what has been its lasting impact on you as a person and you as a coach?

Trying new things out was good because you had to learn on your feet. As an experiential course, it was excellent at exploring what worked and didn’t work for me; it helped me realise how I would like to coach and who.

I have learned to hone my questions and the shorter the better. Initially mine were too closed and open questions are much better.

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

I have not changed it a great deal. However, through CPD, including reading books, attending webinars and simply working with a supervisor, I have found myself in a place where I am able to build trust and rapport very quickly which allows clients to relax and have the safety and space to explore.

I use metaphors, analogies and visualisation techniques as powerful tools to allow clients to see their lives in front of them, so it comes “alive” and “very real”. I use various techniques and my vivid imagination to help us as we build a picture together. I create a foundation from which to build as I often find issues such as a lack of self-confidence and esteem, particularly after Covid.

I try to keep it free flowing as I don’t want them to feel constrained. If they go off on a tangent, I will bring them back online, but I want them to be free to explore their mind and help them crystalise their thoughts. I create a very positive atmosphere in my sessions, which do energise towards the end, which can be infectious with the client. I absolutely work with the whole person and in the moment which is powerful. I also use challenges so that my clients have to really think about what they are saying.

Primarily, it is about energy, warmth, feeling that trust and space, the ability to not feel constrained in any way and letting it go. Then you get much more out of it.

How were you using coaching in your role as contracts director at Babcock?

I have coached for many hundreds of hours from a broad range of clients ranging from graduates to directors. All of them have been great to work with on a wide variety of different challenges. They come via talent management schemes or referrals and some self-referrals.

Also, via testimonials, promoting the value coaching adds to a business in terms of productivity and cohesion, plus growth in the confidence and self-worth of individuals.

Plus, it has enabled me to lead more effectively because the way I manage people is not hierarchical, but totally collaborative. People are much more willing to share feedback and I get a lot more out of engagement with my colleagues using a coaching style. It has resulted in real trust being built.

You have also established your own coaching practice Jointhedots Coaching; can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with?

These are mostly young people, graduates and postgraduates plus service leavers. This is because both groups are starting at a different point in their lives but are equally at a loss or at least not sure of what they really want to do.

They follow well beaten paths but is that what they really want to fulfil themselves? There are so many similarities and often the years of experience pales into insignificance against the desire to achieve real fulfilment in what they do next and, very often, something they hadn’t considered previously.

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

The biggest issue I am picking up is the pressure of work and it is not helped with mental health issues around Covid, working from home and not feeling part of something. It is trying to give them a foundation or an anchor and helping them feel like they belong somewhere.

Gremlins from their past which have been hard to brush away is another one with some going back to childhood and others from negative career experiences.

Also understanding what makes them the person they really are and their underlying values and casting aside predisposed ideas that others have imposed/persuaded often through misguided kindness.

The impact can vary but my most recent three clients said the coaching had been “transformational” both in their working, but also their personal lives. It has a significant change in their perspective and far greater clarity of purpose as a result. It is also the ability to focus on what really matters amongst the day-to-day noise of life; time to really think.

It is about that positivity that drives people forward to make a change to their life or their workplace. Whatever it is, it is about simple changes sometimes, but it can be huge steps as well. That is what I find about the impact that you have in that you can literally jump miles in three hours.

What are your longer-term plans for Jointhedots Coaching?

I want to follow my passion, somewhere I can really invest my time properly and not feel like I am rushing things and, therefore, give full benefit and value to my clients.

I want to continue to support my old business Babcock as an external coach when needed and to help with young people including universities and education authorities. I will work with various coaching companies with whom I have been in touch as an associate coach and am part of a pilot working with two companies to assist service leavers in transition, including supporting TX-net which is a military information exchange business.

I plan on broadening my network and continuing my association with the EMCC, so I can grow the business and start to make a real difference, giving benefit to people by doing something I love.

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

I love working directly with people and finding solutions and a way forward together. It is the empowering people to fulfil what the really want to do and their self-realisation. Delivering positive outcomes in different ways and seeing how coaching can really transform lives – seeing that light bulb come on. That is what I love about it - it is one of the most rewarding jobs. I wish I had done it years ago.

Our sincerest thanks to Adam for sharing his personal journey and experience of coach training with the AoEC.