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An accomplished executive coach, facilitator and experienced non-executive director, Glenda Marchant has over 25 years senior management experience in the media industry. Now running her own successful practice, The Spark Initiative, Glenda generously shares her perspective of working as a coach and experience of the AoEC's Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching.
You come from an impressive background with over 25 years senior management experience in the media industry. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?
When I was promoted to publisher, so a fair way into my media career, I was offered three coaching sessions. I found them helpful but was left with the feeling that if I’d had a coaching intervention much earlier, I may have avoided many mistakes and understood much clearly how to navigate the workplace.
Coaching at management entry level, is something I am passionate about, its ability to heighten self-awareness and help you think through problems is invaluable when you’re a young manager.
Later, as the launch publishing director of Stylist, I found myself emotionally invested in the brand but appreciating after nine years in the role, I needed to move on. However, it was incredibly difficult to make the move, frankly my heart was overruling my head; I was frozen. Coaching sessions, I felt would help me, and they did. They helped me to clarify my thinking and find the courage to move forward. The power of coaching to shift perspective fascinated me, so I explored the idea of coaching via the AoEC (having researched coaching online) and booked onto the course.
What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?
The course wasn’t easy for me. I had spent many years problem solving, not only for me but for my direct reports, so taking myself out of the equation, not solving problems for others, I found incredibly difficult.
However, through the process of practice and the help of both the course tutors and my cohort, I passed the exam. To quote Peter Bluckert in Psychological Dimensions of Executive Coaching ‘Staying grounded, dealing with your own anxiety and avoiding a premature rush to fix things’ was THE major learning curve for me.
The course introduced me to a number of interesting texts, and really ignited my interest in psychology, as a result I’ve continue to read avidly, and have taken a brief online course in psychology to complement the AoEC course.
What is your top advice to others considering coach training?
Read some key texts such as Coaching for Performance (by John Whitmore), Time to Think (Nancy Kline) and Mindset (Dr Carol Dweck) before you start your course. It will really help you get the most out of the group sessions.
Looking back at doing your diploma, what has been its lasting impact on you as a person and you as a coach?
I’ve always been a good listener (I had to be in my media roles), but I feel that the course has helped me to focus on both being a good active listener which frankly is at the heart of good coaching and it’s at the heart of being a good friend too.
Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how this has evolved since doing the diploma?
The course introduced me to the OSKAR model of coaching – Outcome, Scale, Know-how, Affirm + Action, Review. It is a very positive style of coaching as it has a clear structure which I love, and ensures neither the coachee, nor I, get lost in our conversation because the structure helps to keep us on track. I also love the way it helps to break down a problem, or a situation and how it offers a clear pathway to a desired outcome.
There are many, many people who set themselves up as coaches, therefore I feel it is crucial to have trained with a reputable company that is accredited by the industry’s three key professional bodies. I am a member of the Association for Coaching, which I believe gives my coachees confidence in me. It is also great to point clients to the code of ethics which all coaches should abide by.
You now work as an executive coach and set up The Spark Initiative in 2018; can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with?
I feel very lucky that I have worked with some fantastic clients, some are from my old world such as The Estée Lauder Group of Companies, LVMH and December 19 Media. However, thanks to working as an associate for a number of larger coaching groups, I have been able to work with client such as Arsenal Football Club, Channel 4 and Crew Clothing too.
Working with young managers is still a passion of mine, however, over the course of the last few years I’ve worked with all levels, in a wide variety of businesses.
What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach people around?
This varies dramatically. It can be helping a manager to navigate a new role or helping individuals to change jobs. At a more senior level, there is the question of company structure and investment, as well as handling a tricky board or chair. One of the things I love about being a coach is the variety!
How are you measuring the effectiveness of your coaching?
The impact of a coaching intervention is quite difficult to measure effectively, partly because it is something that develops over time.
I try to ensure I have regular check-ins with the key stakeholders to discuss behaviour changes (as much as I am able) and naturally ask for feedback. ‘What could I do better’ is always a key question. I can also point to a number of my coachees that have been promoted or who have found new roles, and also to clients both individuals and organisations that come back to me again and again… so that also suggests I’m doing something right!
Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that has had an impact on you?
One of my early coachees was struggling with a variety of difficulties both professionally and personally. I thought about her constantly, and finally managed to persuade her to stop the coaching sessions and seek professional counselling. This experience stayed with me, as it taught me that coaching isn’t always the answer, and as a coach it is necessary to recognise when a coachee has deeper personal issues that I wouldn’t be trained to deal with. It’s something that the AoEC course helped me understand.
What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?
Oh, definitely the Aha moments! When a coachee has been struggling with a problem, and suddenly the mist clears and they can see a solution, that’s wonderful. Also, I love hearing my coachee has been promoted, or found a role they really love, or (as happened recently) won an industry award, being a tiny part of their journey is so rewarding.
Our deepest thanks to Glenda for sharing her personal journey of coach training with the AoEC.
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