Practitioner Diploma / “The most transformational training I have ever undertaken”

22nd August by Lee Robertson

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Gary Reed has over 25 years’ experience in higher education, both as a published management academic and director of research at Loughborough University Business School; director of research, business & innovation at Aberystwyth University; and most recently with The Leadership Foundation, and consequently Advance HE, as director of membership (Wales). Now a qualified leadership coach, we had the pleasure of speaking to Gary about his experience of coach training with the AoEC on the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching.

You come from an impressive background in higher education with senior positions at both Loughborough University and Aberystwyth University. Now working as a leadership coach, who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?

I was a management academic at Loughborough University and this gave me a lot of insight into leadership and leadership styles. In my role at Aberystwyth University the HR Director had said to me ‘and of course you have a coaching leadership style, which is why your team are so successful’. That ignited a spark in me, as this style was inadvertently part of my transformational leadership approach, and I decided to explore further.

I took an ILM7 Coaching course in 2014 but was uninspired by the course, the content and the facilitator and did not do the course work. In 2018 I was seconded to the Leadership Foundation and an opportunity to coach course participants arose, but I needed qualifications. I asked colleagues for recommendations and chose the AoEC – the most transformational training I have ever undertaken.

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

Like many colleagues on the course, I thought I already coached, it turned out I didn’t really. The course was a revelation for me and quite the personal journey. The biggest challenge (and positive) was peeling away the layers and ego to reveal who I truly was to enable me to be fully present and curious with coaching clients. I really valued (and was challenged by!) the observed practice coaching sessions and grew so much in through this process.

What is your top advice to others considering coach training?

Be open-minded and accepting of the challenge of understanding who you really are. Bring a love of learning and curiosity and you’ll have a great journey.

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

My authenticity journey was accelerated by the course, and I continue to learn and reflect on who and how I am as a coach with every coaching session.

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

My coaching style has evolved into the name of my company – Carreg Coaching. Carreg is the Welsh word for stone or rock, and my approach has been to be grounded and connected to my client: the ‘rock of the relationship’.

My coaching model has always been relational and emergent. I am a whole person coach and really connected with the Co-active coaching model during the diploma - I love the metaphor of ‘dancing in the moment’. At the heart of my model is curiosity, and I bring in a range of coaching and leadership models to be in service of each client.

I am particularly proud of my own authentic leadership model: The Leadership Tree, which was inspired from my own experience as an introverted leader and the transformational leadership model.

You now work as an executive/leadership coach and have set up Carreg Coaching; can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with?

I focus on supporting leaders in higher education and work with researchers, academics, professional services, and senior leaders. My aim is to support existing, aspiring, and reluctant leaders to discover their authentic leadership mindset.

What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach clients around?

Personal leadership qualities; leading a team, organisational leadership; leading in the wider environment; authenticity; confidence, wellbeing and career management.

How are you measuring the effectiveness of your coaching engagements?

I actively seek feedback from clients in sessions and sometimes ask for testimonials. Where I am engaged by an organisation, I receive feedback from coaching assignment evaluations. I’m currently developing a more formal survey for clients to follow up on 12 months after our engagement, or 12 months after our first engagement if they are still active clients.

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

I am comfortable with my own vulnerability which sometimes expresses itself as imposter syndrome. One client, who was more senior than I had ever been and was also an esteemed professor of therapy, really fired up my inner critic of not being good enough. I took this to supervision and through reflection was able to realise they had come to me for my leadership expertise, and being authentic, curious, and focusing on my presence in ‘the relationship’, allowed me to trust in my coaching process.

You have gone onto be accredited with the ICF and are a member of the EMCC. Why was becoming accredited important to you and what value has it brought your practice?

Accreditation is important to me as it is a mark of my professionalism, which is something my clients expect. I ‘fell’ into the ICF as my first supervisor was accredited to support my journey to accreditation (ACC). A year before renewal, I was reflecting on my practice and realised that the ICF was not the right organisation for me and explored EMCC.

Most of my clients come to me because of my experience as a senior leader in higher education, and sometimes mentoring is part of being in service to the client. Hence the Coaching and Mentoring of the EMCC fitted me better. Once I transferred, my coaching confidence improved as I wasn’t trying to fit myself into the ICF framework, that wasn’t right for me. I am currently applying for Senior Practitioner with EMCC, and the reflective application process has been enlightening and developmental, and I have made changes to how I reflect on client sessions, supervision, and CPD.

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

Witnessing the positive impact coaching has on people’s journeys through their life, both work and personal.

A massive thank you to Gary for sharing his personal experience of coach training with the AoEC.