Episode 5 - The benefits of coaching for business 


Welcome to Business Futures podcast, the show where we take an honest and challenging look at the technologies and people that are shaping business. I'm Emma Pownall, Datel's Marketing Director - and in this episode I welcomed business coaching experts Anna Gudmundson, Simon Grayson and Laurence Hollobon, to explore the benefits of coaching for business.

In this show, we discussed:

  • If many leaders swear by coaching, then why isn’t every company investing in its management team? 

  • What does coaching actually achieve? 

  • How do businesses get started, and how can they measure the results? 


I began by asking Simon what coaching means to him. 

Simon: For me it's around improvement. If you were to break down the word improvement you get a change for the better, and coaching is a tool to help change. Coaching tends to be working with individuals to increase their performance, and then ultimately increase the performance of their teams and organisations. 

Laurence: If we believe that the way managers behave in an organisation is linked to performance,ultimately, I think this is something that coaching can really help do. There's two or three things that I've seen work very, very well.  Coaching helps create a very safe environment for someone to explain and share their concerns in their role and sometimes they're quite isolated in their role.  So a safe place where you can test things out, you can have someone neutral, not politically involved in the organisation that can give feedback and tell you how that resonates. That is very, very interesting for the business to have a time and place created for their people in that respect.   

Then the second thing that it brings is self-awareness. I think it's very much about trying to understand my behaviours as a manager or leader:  ‘I think I know what I'm doing, I’ve got my habits but what if it didn't work anymore? What if in this world where things are changing all the time, I need to probably reconsider a few of my - you know - features, traits, what I do usually, and the coach is there to help. And again, they're not involved, but they help you become more self-aware in the world of today. 

And the other thing that I've seen happen is that the ultimate element in coaching is it just unlocks potential of people when you know when you go that far where people realise actually what was happening. What I was doing was not quite working. But what if there was more that I could do andreally fight if I looked at in a different way? And that's something that is actually amazing. And that's why coaching I think, is a very interesting approach to grow leaders and managers in anorganisation. 

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. I would say that the increasing self-awareness is the number one thing that coaching brings to the table. And if you think as a manager, as a leader, your job is to have brilliant conversations, then if you could unlock some of your belief systems that are not helping youthat are holding you backsome of those limited beliefs, negative beliefs, coaching can be used to unlock that and I suppose, have a really good conversation in a safe environment, so then that person can go and have brilliant conversations with other people and increase their own self dialogue. 

Anna is an advocate of coaching from a leaders point of view, and I wanted to know why. 

Anna: If we look at the business side of things, I think the way we've run business over the last 200 years or so has really not understood what makes business successful. Ultimately, it’s the people and how do people workSo we can sit on a board and look at spreadsheets, which obviously is very important, but ultimately, what's in that spreadsheet is created by people. So communication, self awarenessthe ability to resolve conflict, how to approach problems and understand that actually, we're emotional beings. We have logic, but we're very emotional beings. And so this all plays out of the workplace and has an ultimate impact on the outcome of the business.  So, I think it's absolutely critical for a successful business. 

Coaching is very different from training, but how? I asked Simon what the real differences are between them. 

Simon: I suppose that in terms of the science of learning, 70% of how we learn is from doing, 20% is through having conversations and 10% is through education. The training is that 10% mark. So I didn't know this model theory, I didn't know it existed, I now do – great, now can you go and practice it, learn it and so on.  Whereas coaching tends to be more on the one-to-one side. And I suppose I wouldn't see myself as the expert that the coachee is the expert.  My job is to help them frame things, reframe things, look at things from different perspectives and ultimately increase their self-awarenessSo my job as a coach would be to help that person understand themselves that much better. So for example, when working with the West Indies Cricket Team, I can think of some individuals who I worked with on a one-to-one basis, and the main job was to help them understand whether it was their technique or temperament or what to do in certain situations. Sometimes it's what not to do. And if you catch yourself in this situation, right, this is the plan, but it's not me coming up with that plan. It's them so it's very much about empowering them to - I suppose - fulfil their potential. 

So coaching is a one-to-one approach, but I wondered whether there is a typical model for coaching. 

Simon: I would say the brilliant model is the GROW Model. I would assume that all coaching models start from there and move on. So the GROW Model would stand for the Goal; so I'm going to shape the conversation by starting out with what is the goal of this conversation today? Then I want to help you understand what the Reality of the situation, which is obviously your perspective of what's happening right now, it's not actually what's happening, its the way you see the world and let's get that into the open. Once that's discussed, we may have to go back to goal again, because maybe we're working on the wrong thing. But if not, we can move forward to the O which is around coming up with your options, what are your potential you can do, and again, my job is to get you to see things from different perspectives. So I might ask you, what else could you come up with? If your best friend was in this position, what would you suggest they did? And just let them explore that. And then the last one is wrap up. In other words, what will they go and do? And so that tends to be the bedrock of a coaching model. So that's where I'd start. 

With this in mind, I wanted to know what Laurence suggests a business looking to set out on a coaching journey needs to think about in order to get going. 

Laurence: If you're talking about one individual who you'd like to growI think the first thing is to try to understand what is it that the person is expected to be doing in the next phase of their journey inthe organisation.  So if they've just been promoted, or if they have to go through a complicated transition phase for the organisation and manage a new team, so anything that triggers change and request something different from their behaviours from the person. I think it's the first thing to look at.  You need to very thoroughly analyse what is it that we're trying to create for this person to do or experience and so on.   

The second thing - and I think it's quite an important condition as well, maybe Simon you’ll comment on that - but you need to have someone who is willing to be coached. Because someone you send to coaching, they will take it as a punishment or as a forced - you know - approach and they will not share where they are, they will not allow themselves to be vulnerable. I think there's a lot of things about allowing oneself to be vulnerable, when you are entering a coaching phase. Agreeing to be able to say, well, look, I messed up this one, I don't think it did go very well, and have someone you trust enough to do that. But if you refuse to do this, because in the phase of your life, you're in a situation where you cannot do this or you feel insecure, that's difficult. So if HR is the person selecting a coach for someone, you have to be very aware of is it the right time? Is the person ready for this? Are they willing to do that?  

So I think these are the things you need to look at and then you need to probably be very careful as to who you choose. You can't predict who- which- how well or how quickly they're going to fit if there's going to be a fit between the coach and the coachee. So what we would do at Bel is usually introduce the executive or the leader to two or three different coaches who they can choose from based on the fit and were always telling them don't try to over-rationalise who you're going to work with, you need to feel right, you need to be able to feel that you can talk to that person and you feel comfortable. And it's all confidential. This as another element is very, very important. The company will have no say or cannot request specific information from the coaching process. That's very important to put both the coachee at ease and the coach. The coach that can be called for personal information about how the coaching is going. There are rules so you can have one initial meeting with the company and then one final one to measure the progress, but in between is supposed to be extremely waterproof.  

With that element of confidentiality between the coach and the coachee, I wondered how businesses then measure the value or the success of coaching. 

Simon: For me, what I would say is how we start, the coaching contract will bring up confidentiality. And I really feel that a three-way conversation between myself as the coach, the coachee, and the sponsor, which tends to be the coachees manager, we have a three-way conversation thinking about what are we going to discuss? What are the measures? How are we going to classify what success is? I'd get into the open there around to the ethics. So in terms of confidentiality, in terms of the things that we can talk about, let's get that all on the table. At the end of the coaching programme, we would invite the sponsor again in for a three-way conversation.  

There's some good stats by the Institute of Coaching that say that 86% of companies feel that they recoup their investment. And interestingly 70% of individuals improved performance on the back of coaching. So it's interesting that the organisations feel that these people have moved forward, sometimes more than the actual person does. They haven't necessarily realised that they're behaving differently than they are. But because they're now more aware of something, their thinking patterns are likely to be different, their feelings so the things underneath the surface - are going to be different which leads to different behaviour. The different behaviour leads to different results. But obviously, that also leads to 30% that are not changing performance over 14% that are not improving. And that tends to be for me because they haven't opened up or the coach is the wrong coach for them. The relationship isn't strong enough. There are various reasons behind it but ultimately the success that I've had from my coachees is when they have opened up and been trueto themselves. So at the end of a lot of sessions I thank that person for their candour, for their openness, and encourage them more because that's how change happens.  

Anna: Yeah, absolutely. I also think that there is a level that is measurable. And especially if it's coaching in a specific area, so I brought in coaches around the sales team, and it was very tangible quite quickly. And that's also actually back to the comment of the difference between training and coaching. Where you know, okay, the training will say ‘we even can analyse for a specific company, that calling generates more leads than emailing for example. But why do we find ourselves not picking up the phone? Those are the underlying things that you know, coaching can actually look atYou only change that once you can be told the same theory a thousand times and there’s very little change. But when you get to the bottom of it, which we can with coaching, it really has it, and it also has a change not only in that area, but obviously in many other areas. 

And so I brought in a coach also for a C level position. And there is a level of me actually believing in the process myself and I think it's important to have buy in from the top and everyone in the team knew that I also had a coach that I also worked on myself. So walking the walk from the top I think is incredibly important.  

So just thinking a bit more about that cultural element, how do we get coaching to filter through the organisation once it's in place? I asked Anna for her thoughts.  

Anna: Well, I'm going to answer this first from just the kind of CEO and having that approach. So, for me, it was also the things we learned in coaching and the things I learned in coaching to actually tryto implement that as a leader as well. It's not something that I receive, but obviously, then to try to implement that is the whole point.  

Then there are scenarios as well where you would just have coaching for a particular individual, and that might not have an enormous cultural impact. But I think it is important just the fact that you use coaching as a tool shows culturally that you care about people's growthIt’s there to instead fire people. It creates a very different type of culture. So I do think that just the fact that it's something that you provide in situations where change is needed, does have an impact on the culture. And then obviously also the tools that the individuals get through the coaching will trickle out into the organisation. 

One experience I've had within my own career is using coaching in a transitional period. So both when I became a director and also returning to work from maternity leave, coaching helped me to make those transitions. I wondered whether my guests have experienced examples of coachingbenefiting others in transitional periods as well. 

Laurence: I guess at Bel we went through quite frequent change periods in the organisation, change of structure, adjustment of the strategy. And quite a few of our leaders had to go through a complicated phase of moving from one team to another or having to go and restructure or taking on a much larger role that was for them a big, big step. So, in those phases I think it's extremely interesting to use coaching because this is where the person will have to revisit what they know 

What got them there is probably not the same as what will get them to the next step. And therefore, you probably at that stage need to first realise that oh, what is that step that I need to take? What is new? What is going to change in my way of doing things? What do I need to reconsider? If you have people who are able to think that way, then I think coaching is extremely helpful because if you find the right coach, as we said before, it needs to be a good fit. But then they can actually both help theperson realise what they know, because there's a level of confidence that you need to have on what it is that you know that you must do well. 

And once you have that level of confidence, then it helps you grow and go to the unknown, the unknown being your potential. ‘What is it that I don't know, but I think I can achieve?’ And then the great coach helps you not only go to that level of comfort and confidence, but also step up to the next stage, which is actually quite interesting because in transition phases in organisations, you have to train yourself, you have to try and then that gives you a lot of opportunities to test out what you think you can do, but you're not sure you can do it. And then the coaching space and time helps you process it before you actually go out in the wild and do it which I think is great because that helps you feel safe, but still get the courage and the encouragement from the coach to go out and try things out.  

Simon: As you were speaking there, I was thinking of Kevin Cashman who came out with a book,‘The Pause Principle, and he talks about the more complex a task, the more time we should reflect on it. And so many organisations are in the mode of gojust keep goingwhat are you going to do? I don't know, I’ve got another email coming in “I can't stop because I've got to go to a meeting and so on. And at the same time, can we do a transition please? Or can we do a transformation?”, a big change, which is going to take some psychological thought process in order to come through the other side? So coaching, again, can be a brilliant tool to allow people to reflect to have time to pause and a great coach will also give the person the gift of silence. You don't have to say anything, just allow that person to escape on a particular question. Because if I said to you what colour is your front door, we'd all have to leave the room for a second to go and visualise our front door to come up with that answer, even though it's in there. So what we're looking to do is ask those questions, give them some time to pause, think, reflect and see what they can come up with - it's there. 

Anna: Yeah, in terms of transitions, I think that one thing that many humans struggle with is change. And so it's definitely a time with mergers and acquisitions, and redundancies restructurings, and unfortunately I’ve had to do a few of those and those are scenarios where you’re just going to have to work in a different way. You're bringing in a new culture, new ways of thinking and working. And it's hard sometimes you definitely have to show up and walk the walk yourself, but it's hard to be everywhere. Because typically as an executive as well, you have quite a lot going on during those times so I think that can be absolutely gold and sometimes completely necessary to have that type of coaching support in the organisations.  

But as an example, for myself it was quite interesting, all the coaching that I've been doing wasactually after a really, quite challenging phase business-wise where I felt quite let down by someone I had worked with closely during a hugely, hugely stressful time where obviously all our shadows come out during high pressure. And it was actually through I-discover and I-discover 360(, this technique that was quite intense but helped really rewiring, how actually kind of reprogram your perception of that situation. And I think what we often do where we feel wronged or we have resentment is we kind of just move on, but to actually have that dissolved and sort of removed from your nervous system was really quite amazing. So that just on a personal level, I thought was quite fascinating. That's definitely something that was quite life changing for me to experience. 

Simon: So I realised this could be broadcast, but I'm just going to ask you a personal question. So don't feel that you have to answer but in confidentiality between us, would you admit to ever having made a mistake at some point in your life? 

Anna: Probably every day. 

Simon: If you think of that particular mistake that you can remember, have you ever learned something from a mistake? 

Anna: Massively, yeah. 

Yeah, definitely. 

Simon: What happens is a lot in business, especially when they are perceived experts, is they don't want to admit their mistakes. They want to hide it. Or they put the mistake down to it’s to do with the economy”, “it’s to do with an unforeseen event that's not my fault” and so on. 

The downside to that is they don't learn. They continue to make those mistakes because they're not admitted they're not in the open. Again, a good coaching conversation would help them transform, because they're able to say, actually, if I look into the mirror of accountability, I can see myself there, and it was down to me. And if I could go back, I would change this, that and the other. Okay, so going forward, what would you do? What are you going to do? And that might have affected some relationships. So what are we going to do to fix those and to move those forward, and so on. And so those transformations happen, and they can be really small, but it's that little shift in mindset, which is the big difference. 

Laurence: If we come back to your question earlier about, where does it change in a company culture? I think if that a fairly - it doesn't have to be a large level - but a few people start acknowledging their mistakes. And I've got a very clear memory of our CEO discussing with us general managers of the group and mentioning a time where actually he made the wrong choice, the wrong decision. Everybody was gobsmacked by the fact he was able to tell us well look, guys, I just messed up. It wasn't the right thing to do. And then I had to fix it. And I gathered my team and we found a better way to do this, but just the fact that he was allowing himself to be vulnerable, and to explain that he's not Superman able to do everything, but you know, mistakes are okay.  

They're part of life. They're part of what we experience every day. And if we learn from it from whatevewe mess up, then it's fine. And it can trigger a lot of benefits and to innovation.  Innovation is a topic that every company is trying to follow. How do we foster innovation in the organisation?And it always comes back to, well, if our culture doesn't allow failure, then we never going to get to innovate.  

Simon: What I'd add on there is I work with a number of organisations who want us to help their managers grow so that they can help their people grow because one of the problems managers haveis they tend to get promoted from within. So I've been an expert in this position, I've been promoted to this position. So what I know is how to do that job. And now you want me to let go and let somebody else do it. But they're not going to do it as good as me because I was the best. And they're not going to do it as quick as me because of my experience. But can you step back and allow them to do it their own way to allow them to make some mistakes, to allow them to grow so that they can be as good as you and hopefully surpass you. But in order to be better than you, they're going to have to do something different. And they're gonna have to learn from their mistakes, like you learnedfrom your mistakes.  

But right now there are managers out there who are teaching their people how to be managers simply through observation. People are walking into their office every day, they're sitting down, they're looking at their manager, and they're saying, right, that's how I should be a manager. That's what I’m meant to do. I’m meant to just bark some orders, tell some people off and that's what you do. So hopefully, I'm going to get promoted one day, and I can go and do that. Instead of well hold on. Let's see if we can manage in a different way to get better results. That's the job. Because as a leader, your job is to really make transformations happen. And they happen through brilliant conversations. They happen through people exploring their thoughts and opinions. And again, it needs to be okay to make some mistakes to say something and actually go ‘Ooh actually that’s a rubbish idea. But from that rubbish idea, it might be the seed for a brilliant idea that's going to come along. 

If it's such a good tool to have, I wondered why so many companies aren’t doing this. 

Laurence: I think there are a few reasons. One is depending on the company culture. But it's still tough to measure the results of the coaching approach. So, because it can look a little bit fluffy, a little bit difficult to track, some companies will say, well, look, I'm not sure if I'm investing my money correctly. I mean, prove to me that it's working. I mean, it's tough to measure culture. Another thing that comes into play, we haven't mentioned costs, but yes, it is a costly investment. And I guess probably the last thing is it will depend on the open mindedness of the organisation to something different, where trust has to be there, confidentiality has got to be respected. So you could already probably screen through the companies who are likely to go for it based on their culture and their principles and those who probably won’t. 

Simon: Also, if I do a bit of an analogy he might ask the question, well, why doesn't everybody eat healthily? And why doesn't everybody not smoke? And why don't people drive within the speed limits and so on. So sometimes we know the right thing to do, but doing it is difficult, it's time-consuming as well. So if you're going to have those coaching sessions, how much time is it going to use up? If you're going to embed coaching as a tool, as a process for cultural development within an organisation, then how much time is that going to use up from the manager because I would advocate that manager should be spending time with their people. When they put their managers hat on, your job is to go and have great conversations with your people. So how often you doing that?  

Anna: And it is the long-term perspective. Having also run a digital corporate wellbeing company, although you can show results in improved concentration, improved sleep and so on within as little as six weeks, it's just to understand that there are even impacts of things like recession. During times of recession, you will have cuts in those kinds of budgets, and it is ultimately between the sort of scarcity and abundance thinking. If you take a long-term point of view of developing the growth of the company, the coaching is definitely such an investment. But then obviously, there are situations as well where companies may not have the possibility to make those choices, but the belief that knowing that this actually helps and to make that decision, it’s almost good if you've had some coaching yourself to understand like, genuinely believe and understand what an impact it can have an organisation. 

I suppose a good starting point then for a business leader is to give it a try themselves to start with and see if they feel it's something that could be of benefit and then roll it out to the company from there. I asked everyone for their thoughts. 

Anna: Yeah, definitely think that there's a lot of business leaders that have had coaching themselves that understand that this is life changing if they want to have an effective organisation.  If you want your machinery to run well, you would invest in your machinery. If you want your people to run well,you invest in your people, it’s kind of a no brainer, but still seems to not always get through. 

Simon: I think there was that quote, I'm not sure if it's Richard Branson, but I think it was a CEO talking to a finance director. And the finance director says, well, what happens if we spend this money on these people and then they leave? and the CEO said, well, what if we don't invest in them and they stay?. 

So, in terms of pricing, obviously, organisations have various options, there are various costings in terms of coaching, and also things like train the trainer options whereby we've certainly done it with some larger organisations whereby I can think of a time where they've flown two of us over to another country to deliver to 40 managers, so that they can learn how to deliver some of the training courses and in particular, How To Managers Coach programmes. So how can we get our managers to coach our people on a regular basis? So we're going to share some of our tools and therefore they go out and do that.  

Laurence: We've got an example that we've implemented in some parts of our organisation. It's called co-development. So it's a little bit different to coaching. But the idea is somebody comes up with a business topic or a team topic or something that they can’t sort by themselves and they would gather a couple of their colleagues from different departments. And those guys would play the role of the coach or consultants asking the person questions - so what is it that you are facing?I think applying the GROW Model, as you were mentioning Simon before, what is it that you arefacing? What is your reality? What does it impact? Is it working, not working? What is working?What's wrong? What is it that you'd like to achieve? And then what are your options? What are your options to solve it?’ 

And it's not somebody external, it's actually your colleagues who you know, who you trust, who are sitting with you for a session of an hour or two, trying to help you sort out what you can do. And I think that's a very interesting option. Because if you've got this trusting environment and you think you can talk to your colleagues, if there's politics, it doesn't work. But if you think you're going to pick Emma and Anna and so and so, to help me sort out my business issue, there's no reason why it shouldn't work out. And then you realise, as you said earlier, everything's there available because these people will have the knowledge that you don't have, they will have the ideas that you may not have and that will help you move forward. So co-development is actually a very interesting way to apply partly a form of coaching to an organisation at a very decent cost. 

Anna: Yeah, I think there are definitely different types of coaching and different types of price andbusiness models to do it. And also, what is the problem? Is the problem in a specific area? Or is it a culture change?  

Simon: And so I suppose, on the flip in terms of money wise, and we think about value, if you think of those leaders in the business, if you think of potential, so their potential maximum ability is at this level, the thing that's impinging that is interference. And so their potential minus interference equals their performance. So those things that are interfering might be a lack of confidence or lack of belief, an assumption that has been made, a thought process that this is the only way to go. And coaching again will bring that to the forefront and discover different options and different ways to go. So again, increase the value because instead of making potential wrong decision, we have opened up afield Lots of different options. And again can filter down to other people because actually, I've had great success through coaching. I now believe in it. And off they go. 

So far we have discussed the benefits of coaching, but sometimes coaching doesn’t work. I wanted to know why. 

Laurence: Well, I think in the first place a few reasons. Coaching cannot work, as we mentioned before, if the person is not willing to enter a process ofthink reflection and self-positive but stillself-criticism, and then stepping back with someone to help you go through that. So that doesn't work. And I've got an example of someone who started coaching because they felt they had to or their management told them to do so, and the conversations were going nowhere. And when we did an initial session and wrap up session, and obviously we didn't feel the change, the person didn't express that they felt the change had happened. And I think if we thought through enough at the beginning, we would have realised it wasn't the right approach for that person. Something else was needed which was not coaching, because they were not ready to share that much at that stage.  

Another thing that may not work is if the context is not the right one. I mean, we had an example of a manager who was a great expert, however his role was becoming increasingly complex in management. He wasn't happy with this. He wasn't doing really well in that respect. So he started coaching. But I think what will happen is we didn't see at the end of the process, it hadn't changed much we had the team's feedback which was similar to at the beginning. And what we realised isactually the position that he was in was actually probably not the right one for him, he was truly a great expert able to conduct change and that very specific area was working. When he came to managing people and giving them guidance, having them move on, he was not the right person. So, we ended up making a different decision and have had a discussion with him say, maybe this is the wrong context for you.  

Sometimes if the person through the coaching decides that actually the path of their career is not with the company, you know, that happens, [you] should be okay with this because you don't coach people for them to behave the way you would like for them to behave you coach them - or you have them coached - to make sure that they are aligned with their own values principle and then they know how to how to handle situations in a process. If you're not prepared to do that as an organisation and you want to monitor people, then I guess coaching is not the right thing, because you always have to have in mind that you have to accept that if somebody comes to you after acoaching process saying, well, listen, it's not the right context for me, what I want to do is actually not what I'm doing herebut that's okay. It's better for everyone, better for the organisation, better for the person. And it's better for the coach because they know they've done a good job of trying to bring the person to where they should be. So I think that's a very important topic. Don't try to buy coaching to get the results you want as an organisation, it's really about trying to create the right ecosystem for the person to grow the way they should. 

Simon: Yeah. And I can think of times where that's happened, and whether it's training courses or through coaching, and someone's telling me that actually I want to run a coffee shop, and here I am designing, coding or whatever it might be, and I want a shift in my world. Now, if they don't bring that to the table, they're still going to have that as a desire. And so they're either going to work with inner conflicts of I'm doing something I don't want to do so guess what the quality is going to be like, or they come to the surface, and they go and have a conversation with somebodyIt might have come up via coaching, but then they go and have a word with their manager. And they go actually, look, we've got a coffee thing starting up here, would you like to be involved in how we go about doing that?’ And there might be some sort of balance whereby they're going to stay in the businessfor another six months, another year, another three years. Maybe their desire changes with time and they no longer want to run that coffee shop or whatever it might be. So the fact that they do want that now doesn't mean they're going to want that in the future. So let's bring it to the surface and have conversations. 

Anna: I also have actually an example of when I provided coaching for an executive, and that person ended up leaving the business. And that could look like a cost from the outside. But the hidden benefit was the enormous impact on culture. Because everyone who was still working in the company saw how well people were treated, they saw that this was not a company where we don't invest in our people. This is not a company where we just axe and let go people where things aren’tworking. This is a company where we really give people a chance, we do believe in their evolution and development. So it really bonded the team and also created really good relationship. It was a departure that was very cordial both for that person and for the company and for the other people and I think it's hard to put a number on that impact on culture. 

If a C suite person were to listen to this and wonder how to get going, I wanted to know what top tipscould be offered to get them started. 

Anna: I think first of all, there is obviously a very strong argument that coaching is probably more effective than learning skills. If we have the right mindset, we'll find what we need. If we’re in the wrong place and we have the right mental tools, we’ll find a way and we’ll find a solution. However, if you're up against a board or an executive team that doesn't buy into that, I think it is helpful to position it a little bit more like training. So, go for something like Simon mentioned of a mixed training and coaching, or something like Vistage (, which actually also has business related content. And that might be a first step, I would say, if you want to implement it for yourself. 

Laurence: I would say maybe questions that the person should ask themselves if they are consideringcoaching are, ‘what is it that I would like to change? And obviously, the conversation with a coach will lead you to changing that maybe you're adjusting it and re-phrasing, reframing your objective but first starting with what is it really that I'd like to see changing my career, my life, or whatever.And then, ‘who is it that I want to work with? So, you need to start a journey of trying to find the right coach for you. This is very, very important to find somebody you can confide into. You feel comfortable with that can become somebody who's a good sparring partner with no political interests in making you move on to the right or to the left, it's got to be someone who you trust to be able to do that. And the third thing is, how committed am I to actually conduct that change? I mean, you can be very at ease intellectually challenging yourself into ‘okay, I need to be more this, or that, but really, would I really do it? Is it something that I commit to do to myself, to my team, to my coach, that I'm actually going to try it out? I think the three questions are quite useful. 

That commitment piece is so true and something we've found within our own business. We rolled out a coaching programme to the management team, and the ones that have found value in it and have been very positive about it are the people that had that mindset and that commitment to it at the start and have continued through that. The people that haven't are the ones that didn't quite embrace it or didn't take the time to stop and pause like Simon was saying earlier. And so we've really seen that within our own programme. 

Simon: My tip for getting going is, get going. It's taking actionEven if you were to speak to a consultancy or speak to an individual coach, you just set up a chemistry call. You've got to put an hour and a half out of your time to set up three 30 minute phone calls, have conversations with acoach and explore whether they're the right person for you, the thing that you'd like to improve in your world. So if I said what aspect of your world would you like to increase by 10%? Would you like to be 10% more wealthymore healthy, more active, better ideas? What is it Right, let’s focus in on that. Let's go and explore that and unpick it. So go and have those conversations and then on the back of that you can decide what to do. You're not making a commitment of right that’s it, I've got to spend a million pounds and I've got to do this, that, and the other, you're going to invest an hour and a half of your time to have three conversations. 

Every coaching session is going to be different. I walk into every session not knowing where it's going to go. And I would say it could be 20% that there will be tears at some point because emotion just comes out because people are being honest and open and they're thinking actually, I am actually accountable for this, and this is what is stopping me from being at my best right now. Okay, let's deal with it. It's not going away. Just because you don't mention it doesn't mean that that's not affecting your feelings and your thought process. So let's get it onto the table and let's do it.

But in order to do that, you have to have a coach who you feel comfortable with who you're prepared to be vulnerable. Which is a great word vulnerable. Because if I was to ask people, if I walk down to the street, how would you like to have 20% more courage in your life? Yeah, I’d love that.Great. Are you willing to be 20% more vulnerable? No, no, no, I don't want to make myself vulnerable. But how can you be courageous if you're not risking anything? You can't be courageous if you're not risking something. So vulnerability is the same thing as courage. It goes hand in hand. Soin coaching, what are you willing to bring to the table? So to be vulnerable, that's what you're bringing it out. Because it's just those four walls and that one person, you hopefully feel more comfortable to bring that to the table, and we can start working on it slowly but surely. 

Organisations are investing more and more in technology and they're not investing in those people skills, and people are getting bogged down with thousands of emails and oh actually, I can't finish reading that email because I can see my notifications have just come up for another email. But if you think about you want to keep people in the business, you need to have conversations with them.People join organisations, and they leave managers. So if we all think about it, we can probably go and find a job that will pay us a fraction more maybe give us a nicer car or something. But why would we stay? It’s because of the relationship with that manager and the fact that I'm being developed and I'm growing, I'm going to want to stay. 

Anna: The direct line manager is the number one cause of stress in the workplace. 

Simon: Yes, and what the science is telling us at the moment, the millennials are likely to stay in the job for about five years and move on. If I went back to my parents, they're probably going to have one job, maybe two jobs in their lifetime, whereas millennials now are likely to have 5678 jobs in their lifetime. In other words, they are going to move on. 

Anna: From all the research that we did, actually the number one biggest impact to reduce stressand increase well-being in the workplace was to help train managers. So when you get higher up, you might have had the chance both from experience and coaching and you might have that drive to read the books and you know, maybe have your own coach. 

Simon: So again, that awareness needs to come from above. 

My guests were Simon, Laurence, and Anna. In this show, we’ve looked at coaching, and the benefits that come with investing in your people. 

This show concludes our first series of Business Futures. I hope that you have enjoyed following my journey and that you’ve benefited from the really useful advice given by my guests throughout the episodes.  

Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to keep an eye out for season 2 launching in February 2020. See you next time on Business Futures. 


This podcast was produced by ModComms, a full-service marketing agency offering innovative approaches to client challenges.



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My guests:

Anna Gudmundson, Board Director, BioSelf 

Anna is a senior technology business leader in the international high-growth scene, with over 15 years of experience including CEO, VP Product, and interim Executive roles. Anna also has ongoing advisory and contract work in health-tech, SaaS, as well as data and consumer technology. In addition to her passion for technology business, Anna has a huge curiosity for personal and human improvement. She recently spent time focusing on transformational technology and technology that has strong commercial viability and offers real-world benefits. As a Board Director of BioSelf Technology, Anna’s current focus is to solve the mental health and stress crisis using innovative technology such as Sensate.

Simon Grayson

Simon is an executive coach, trainer and people management consultant responsible for the design and delivery of high impact executive, management and leadership training programmes and one-to-one coaching.  Working with a variety of businesses and individuals, Simon is focused on supporting people and teams to achieve the extraordinary.  With experience of coaching individuals in international sports teams right through to CEOs and business executives, Simon supports businesses to align people strategies with company vision to unlock potential and deliver success. 

Laurence Hollobon

Laurence has 25 years of experience in HR and consulting, and is passionate about growing businesses through people. As an ESCP Europe graduate from Paris, Laurence has lived and worked in 5 different countries. She started her career with PwC Consulting, joined LVMH as HR manager, and has held several senior positions at Bel Group including Global Talent Director, HR Director for the Middle East, Africa & Europe, and more recently, interim CHRO. Laurence also founded Humanida, the consulting business which helps HR, Executives, and team members navigate through the Digital age. Laurence is passionate about the Future of work, and is currently working on the concept of team potential, and is supporting a few HR start-ups.  


Business Futures host:

Emma Pownall, Marketing Director, Datel

My team and I provide our customers with a range of events, guides and tools that bridge the gap between business leaders and technology.  From large conferences connecting customers with each other and the software world, to sharing customer stories that explain what is possible with the right business solutions, I'm focused on sharing how people and technology can support business success.