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Steliana van de Rijt-Economu is based in the Netherlands and runs Mothers as Leaders and Ithaca Coaching as a source of inspiration for mothers and fathers to dream more, to do more for society and to learn more about the world their children live now and the one they will live in the future. She is also a leadership consultant with twenty years of cross-cultural working experience in multinationals who travelled the world to coach and develop both men and women in managerial roles. Here she talks about her experience of the AoEC’s Systemic Team Coaching Diploma.
What is your career background and coaching experience, and what led you to sign up for the AoEC’s Systemic Team Coaching Diploma course?
Although I have a Bachelor’s in finance and a Master’s in project management, I only worked for three months as an economist as my first job out of university. I realised early on that I wanted to focus my energy on understanding the people role in creating value, rather than the financial aspect of generating value.
In 2016 I was at a cross point in my career. After 12 years at Shell I was feeling that I wasn’t getting that professional edge because I wasn’t getting the constructive feedback I needed to grow. I attended Module one in Dec 2016 as an experiment and I decided a week before the course to enrol and it was even an Xmas present from my husband. It was an eye opener, after coming back to work I started to apply the knowledge in my current practice with teams and I could see its power. My manager at the time did too, and later sponsored my Team Coaching Diploma course.
What did you find were the most beneficial learning experiences on the diploma?
It is hard to tell, because there were many insights. This was the most practical training I have done; the stakeholder mind map is something in everyday life discussions with teams and people. I even use in my Mothers as Leaders workshops
How has your own coaching model evolved having studied the diploma programme?
In the beginning I was mainly focused on applying tools and frameworks like the Five Disciplines and the stakeholder mind map.
What advice would you give to future participants to ensure they really get the best from the learning experience? (E.g. make the most the practitioner group, focus on the case study, do all the background reading etc)
Make the most out of your group. Don’t forget about the use of Self as Instrument and own your learning goals, it will avoid you getting distracted.
What was the benefit to you of working on a live case study throughout the programme?
Immense – it counted for 50% of my learning. It motivated me to keep reading the curriculum.
You are a published author – Mothers as Leaders - and now run your own practice Ithaca Coaching. Can you tell us a little more about who you work with and what coaching services you offer?
Ever since I became a mum in 2011, I have noticed how everyone described motherhood as a problem that needs fixing with tips and routines, rather than what it actually is, a baptism in leadership. At the time I was a leadership development adviser and I could easily see the parallels between leadership in the management context. I have spoken to hundreds of mums some of them employed and some at home to research the impact of parenting on a woman’s leadership skills and personal effectiveness.
I interviewed 20 mothers using the coaching method of the life story. The interviews turned into real life stories of powerful mums from all over the world and I started to see the patterns in development.
Ithaca Coaching is the consulting and coaching company trading under the name of Mothers as Leaders. The company is at the start-up phase. The purpose is to develop inclusive leaders by helping mothers and fathers to blossom both at work and at home. We create impact in 3 areas:
- Personal Development through career and life coaching, workshops and back-to-basic retreat for families
- Inspiration and Connection through a supporting community and peer mentoring
- Recognition in the workplace & society.
We work with companies, parents and everyone who can be their ally.
What typically are the challenges or opportunities you have been asked to help clients/colleagues with?
I was asked to come in to leadership teams that are struggling to operate as a team and they have unproductive conflicts.
How do you measure the effectiveness of your team coaching work with clients?
With the teams at Shell I have been using the Shell people survey data on team leaderships and engagement.
What feedback have you received from those you have worked with?
They said that this type of team effectiveness and development approach felt different because we focused on their clients, bosses, vendors, etc.
What has your work as a coach taught you personally?
I learned to stay in the moment, be patient and to listen with all my senses open
What do you find most rewarding about your coaching work?
I love seeing people or teams I coach come up with a new insight that they didn’t have before. I feel this is much more rewarding for me in terms of value rather than the financial metrics.