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Jon Hazan has worked in many different management environments over the past 25 years. Originally serving as an army officer, Jon then spent twenty years in the sports events industry designing and delivering events around the world. Now specialising in preparing individuals and small teams for the challenges of management and leadership, Jon completed the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching with the AoEC in 2019.
You have a diverse and rich background in different management environments having served with the army and worked in the sports events industry. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?
In one way or another I have always worked in, and been fascinated by, the field of leadership, team and personal development.
A few years ago, as part of my own personal development I engaged the services of an executive coach. He was inspirational in helping me to clarify my values, motivations, and priorities as I struggled to work out what to do next with my career. In only a few sessions he provided me with such clarity and focus I was able to take the next steps with confidence and conviction.
A few years later, when the time came for me to evolve my career and look for a new direction, I recalled my experience with my coach and started to investigate the world of executive coaching. It seemed like a natural progression in my career and soon after I encountered the AoEC in my research.
I approached the world of executive coaching cautiously, starting with the open day hosted by the AoEC in London and then proceeding to the two-day Coaching Skills Certificate course. This allowed me to gain a better understanding of what it took to be an executive coach and assess whether I had the skills required before taking the bigger step and signing up for the Practitioner Diploma.
What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?
Having attended both the open day and the Coaching Skills Certificate course I was prepared for the challenges of the Diploma, the biggest of which was overcoming my misconceptions of what being a coach involved and having to undertake some quite considerable changes in mindset, values, and approach to working with others in a coaching relationship.
Once I was at ease with this, the rest of the course was incredibly positive. I was part of an incredibly supportive cohort. We drew off each other, sharing our past experiences, successes, and challenges along the way. The course structure and teaching style ensured the learning journey was a logical one, building on the steps we were taking and reinforcing our learning along the way.
I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work with practice clients. Whilst initially quite daunting, it served as a vital form of feedback and experimentation.
What is your top advice to others considering coach training?
If you are undecided, then take the Coaching Skills Certificate course first. It provides remarkably good value as a means of testing the water, understanding the skills, challenges, and rewards of being a coach. Before deciding on whether to pursue it further.
The more I work as a coach, the more I appreciate that this profession is not suited to everybody. The challenges I overcame in realigning my understanding of what a ‘coaching relationship’ entails will no doubt be shared by many, especially those coming from a similar background to me. Changing my mindset and accepting this took time but has had a profound and wide-ranging impact in many ways.
Looking back at doing your diploma, what has been its impact on you as a person and you as a coach?
It has had a marked effect on how I communicate with and relate to others. I am grateful for the tuition I received in listening skills as it has revealed a world of hidden nuances in the people I interact with, and whilst I am still learning and developing this skill it has allowed me to notice more in conversation with others and interact with deeper understanding.
I have also learnt how exhausting this can be, and that there are times when I need to adjust my ‘coaching approach’ to conversations. My wife and friends soon grew tired of my intense analysis of their conversation, working out when a ‘coaching approach’ to a conversation is appropriate was a valuable lesson.
Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how this has evolved since doing the diploma?
I think it fair to say that my coaching model continues to evolve as I practice and learn more about this fascinating profession. After completing the diploma, I held tightly to the models we had been taught but the longer I practice, the braver I become about differing my approach and recognising the need to ‘personalise’ every coaching experience. Whilst there are certainly themes that emerge, every client is different, and they respond to different techniques and tools in different ways.
I feel a natural affinity towards positive psychology models, focusing on successes and learning how to manage weaknesses and whilst I am quite solution oriented, I am also enjoying letting this go when required and simply allowing a client to deepen their understanding of a topic or behaviour and finding out where that takes us.
The longer I work with clients from various backgrounds and with differing needs, the more I realise the importance of authenticity and vulnerability, both in my own approach to the topics my clients bring and to the conversations I have with them.
You now work as an executive and outdoor coach at Atlas Coaching; can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with?
Increasingly my clients come from either the junior or middle ranks of an organisation looking to develop their leadership skills and understanding. I am also finding an increasing number of clients wanting to explore their career options. Perhaps because of current levels of uncertainty or their time of life.
To be able to use the great outdoors as an occasional setting for my coaching sessions can give clients a wonderful opportunity to just explore their thoughts and discuss options freely in a different environment. I am hoping to expand this into outdoor team coaching in the coming months to explore self and co regulation topics.
What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach clients around?
I particularly enjoy working with young talent to explore their personal leadership style and assist them through the challenges of management. So often people are chosen for leadership roles without the benefit of proper guidance or training.
I work as an associate facilitator delivering several learning and development programmes, but I especially enjoy the opportunity to work with young leaders on a one-on-one basis. The flexibility and freedom of coaching allows us to explore their personal and authentic leadership style and build on their understanding of the various models and techniques they are introduced to.
When it comes to discussing career transition with clients, I am increasingly talking to the importance of options, rather than plans. Once again, the flexibility of coaching provides the perfect opportunity for this whereby the client can ‘try on’ different options, exploring potential outcomes, emotions, and challenges before taking a more focused and determined step towards their goal.
How are you measuring the effectiveness of your coaching engagements?
An experienced coach recommended I use a journal to record my reflections immediately following each coaching session. It is an incredibly useful tool that helps me to recall observations about the topics discussed, challenges met and the results and learnings for both the client and me that can be put to good use in future sessions.
Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that has had an impact on you?
I can still recall a moment during the diploma when practising with a fellow student I led the conversation down a particular path and found myself floundering in an extremely uncomfortable place. The session was stopped by our tutor, I was mortified. It served as a valuable lesson to avoid ‘playing the therapist’ and stick within my area of expertise.
Equally, I have had several ‘eureka moments’ with clients where I can literally feel the hairs stand up on my arms and a rising sense of excitement within me when we hit on something that has a remarkable effect on a client.
What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?
The above mentioned ‘eureka’ moment cannot be matched. When I observe a moment of realisation in a client, followed by deep contemplation, reflection and understanding it provides me with such a feeling of fulfilment. When I can see the clouds clear for a client and they leave a session with clarity and confidence I am reminded of the positive impact coaching can have.
Our deepest thanks to Jon for sharing his experience of coach training with the AoEC.
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