Advanced Practitioner Diploma / “This is the start of the most amazing journey”

14th December by Lee Robertson

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“This is the start of the most amazing journey”

Penina Wieder has graduated from several of the AoEC’s coaching programmes, most recently the Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching.

Originally studying law before going on to work in the education sector, Penina now works as an executive coach and is a director of Weave Coaching and Consulting Ltd.

You originally studied law at the University of Manchester before going on to complete post graduate qualifications, a Masters in leadership and work in primary school teaching and as a deputy head. What or who introduced you to coaching and led you to enrol in the AoEC’s Advanced Practitioner Diploma programme?

My journey into coaching evolved naturally. During my childhood I was immersed in a home that was passionately committed to education and learning. I thoroughly enjoyed studying law, but it was no surprise that my career path led me into education.

At work in school, I was fortunate to experience the ingredients that create powerful coaching environments. I have watched how growth mindsets have been cultivated and young people have flourished through strong rapport built with unswerving belief and positivity. I have observed miracles happening when a student has a teacher who can unlock her pupil’s potential and free her to soar.

I felt ignited by these principles and made every attempt to embody them when coaching senior leaders as they moved into different roles in the ever-expanding school. I also learnt so much from building teams in the organisation. Two years ago, I made the decision to embark on a career as an executive coach and broaden my reach. I realised that achieving this has been a long-awaited dream.

After much research into coaching qualifications, I applied for and attended the Systemic Team Coaching Certificate course at the AoEC. It was my first experience within the AoEC and I was profoundly affected by the depth of the provision which was clearly aligned with my own vision of personal and professional development. I was determined to continue my learning journey with the AoEC.

You’ve massively invested in your professional development by doing the Systemic Team Coaching Certificate, Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching, and the Advanced programme with the AoEC. What were the reasons behind doing so much training in a short space of time?

I have always been driven and determined and I have been used to juggling multi-faceted commitments in work and life. I am naturally passionate about learning and as this was my dream, I was determined to immerse myself in the experience.

On each course I had a conversation with tutors that shifted my vista and steered me on to the next stage. On the systemic team coaching certificate course, I was pointed to the need to go through the challenging processes of the coaching course to fully understand the dynamics of team coaching.

I then attended the Practitioner Diploma and loved every moment. I have great appreciation for all the invaluable help and guidance that I received there and the insights that I gained. I felt that I had finally arrived home. During the course I experienced a synergy between leadership, coaching, my personal and professional growth and organisational development. I could not wait to continue the learning by attending the Advanced Practitioner Diploma.

My personal and intense investment gave me access to new panoramas and great fulfilment. One of my family commented that I am constantly moving out of my comfort zone and I took that as a compliment. I was truly up for the challenge!

What personal qualities and values do you bring to your coaching work?

The qualities and values that I hope that I bring to my coaching work are warmth, positivity and an innate belief in a person’s inherent potential. I have always thought of myself as an adaptable and ‘big picture’ person. An incredible mentor that I had at work often emphasized the importance of keeping my eyes on the front of the tapestry and looking at the landscape depicted and not getting entangled by the sight of knots at the back. This helps me in keeping a clear head and building a systemic view in my coaching work.

What did you find were the most beneficial learning experiences on the Advanced Practitioner Diploma

I found that the environment was exceptional. I appreciated the skilful guidance by tutors and fellow peers in the form of group facilitation, coaching triads and quads, supervision and personal tutorials which all provided space for reflection and the benefits of feedback.

On the modules and accompanying reading lists which were immense (my bookshelves are sagging!), I visited and revisited many great books, especially on Gestalt, Time to Think, Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, and my coaching model has evolved into a blend of these principles. I have also developed an interest in neuroscience, giving me a peek into the relationship of the brain and emotions which I find helps to enhance resilience, calmness and harmony in people and organisations.

I met with wonderful people and had insightful conversations over the course of each of the three days and the peer support and friendships continue today. I experienced a deep kindness and benevolence that flowed within the group. I can track each conversation that I had and each one made me braver by the moment! It was an experience to be treasured.

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

When I began my Advanced coach training, I realised that I prided myself on my listening skills. However, I received challenging feedback early on in the course that although I was a good listener, I was often really offering the client my own interpretations instead of hearing what they were truly saying. This was a lightbulb moment for me that both shaped and sharpened my practice. I realised that I had been listening to rescue instead of empowering and building responsibility.

True rewards for me are when I can listen with an open heart and mind to my client.   

What does your personal coaching model look like and how has it evolved since doing your coach training?

My coaching model has developed and deepened over the course of my AoEC training and beyond.

As I mentioned one of the most profound learnings that I absorbed over the course and a focal part of my coaching model is to listen attentively to the words and the silences; tuning into myself and my client to provide space and safety for them to access their own understanding.

Since experiencing the depth of learning on the course and in search of deepening my listening I have continued to develop my self-awareness, to understand the contribution of my past in building my present identity and understand and recognise my own triggers so I continue in my quest to listen without anything on my mind. 

I practice mindfulness myself and I find that it both resources me and enables me to recharge my batteries and access my inner reservoir of calm. I often invite the client to participate in a short mindfulness exercise at the start of coaching to centre them so that they can look at uncertainty and complexity, with their feet on the ground and develop the capacity to respond and not react. With every inbreath a new beginning, every outbreath a release.

Who are you coaching and what are some of the issues and opportunities you coach around?

I am coaching leaders in organisations who are developing their own awareness of themselves as leaders, managing change and their ways of impacting upon their system. The issues are mostly around communication levels and handling turmoil and my focus is to help my client release blocks that may have trapped them for many years so that they can think for themselves and see the bigger picture and gain clarity.

What kind of impact is coaching having for those you are working with?

I feel that my impact is to hopefully see my clients tapping into their true strengths and find their own inner resources, bravery and authenticity. Every client is unique, and I would hope to see them confident and aware of themselves and their own triggers so that they can both lead and be human and create compassionate and wholesome cultures in their organisations.

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

The issue that my client was experiencing was conflict with a colleague. In order to gain a wider perspective on the presenting problem, I offered him the opportunity of the “empty chair” technique whereby he would adopt the position of both himself and his colleague and engage in an honest conversation stepping into both sets of shoes. I found that this piece of work enabled my client to find his own solution in an almost magical way, developing new eyes on present situations. It had a liberating and ethical resonance for me.

Most important for my learning was being able to gain the art of creating a balance as a coach, of being present and simultaneously ensuring that I empower him to gain his own insights. I watched in awe as I experienced the flow of his thinking. Most importantly, I was there but I did not get in his way!

What would be your top piece of advice for anyone thinking about doing a professional coach training programme?

Be ready for the challenge and hard work to gain the most from the opportunity. Embrace the whole experience from beginning to the end and enjoy the process. This is the start of the most amazing journey.

A huge thank you to Penina for sharing her personal experience of coach training with the AoEC.