I can hardly believe that it is now over three and a half years since I embarked on my first coaching qualification. It has been a long journey with lots of twists and turns to get to where I am now. The decision to retrain in coaching psychology was prompted by me finding myself in a state of languish and at a significant crossroads in my career. I realised that something had to change.
To better understand how I reached this point, we need to go back a few years prior to me enrolling on that course. In 2014 I left my job in public health, set up a limited company and started working as an independent contractor. I recall how when I made that decision public, a few of my colleagues pulled me aside and expressed their shock. They said that they would never have guessed anything was wrong. After all, on the outside, they thought I appeared calm and in control most of the time (I smile a lot, so I was probably good at hiding it!) and I was delivering over and above what was expected of me in my role. When I explained that I had been feeling stressed, disillusioned, and unsettled for a while and knew that something had to change, a few of them confided that they felt the same way but didn’t feel ‘brave’ enough to try something else. I also recall how a few of my colleagues were relieved to hear that there wasn’t something ‘wrong’ with them and that they weren’t alone in their feelings. A few colleagues expressed how they had been afraid to share their true feelings with others in case they were seen as a failure. After all, on the outside it looked like everyone else was able to keep it together, so why couldn’t they? Others expressed their concern at my decision to leave a relatively secure job for the insecurity of self-employment and genuinely appeared to be worried about my welfare – a very valid concern and something I would urge anyone who is considering the self-employment route to consider very carefully as it is not without its challenges and isn’t for everyone! However, I had an overwhelming sense that although I had worked incredibly hard to get to where I was, people kept on telling me how good I was at what I did, and how privileged I was to have the interesting job I had, something was missing and there was a different path I was meant to take.
In the years after I took that leap of faith into the unknown, I learnt a lot about myself both personally and professionally. Having the freedom to work on lots of different projects and in different environments, helped me to get clearer about what I wanted, and possibly more importantly, what I didn’t want from my career. I had devoted many years to studying psychology, and although I was utilising some of those skills, one of the sources of my frustration and which I had kept on coming back to over the years, was the feeling that I would feel more fulfilled if I was able to work in a field in which I could apply this expertise more readily.
This led me to the next crossroads which I mentioned at the beginning of this article. After much research, I stumbled upon the relatively new field of coaching psychology. I was intrigued. Here was something that sounded like the type of career I had been searching for. I decided that even if it wasn’t, I had nothing to lose from enrolling on a course. I enjoy learning and self-development is a value which is incredibly important to me. Even if it didn’t end up being a viable career pivot option, I was interested to find out whether the tools and techniques taught could help me to get unstuck, develop a healthier and more positive mindset, and find a way forward.
Well, this experiment was probably one of the best decisions I have made! Not one to do things by halves, after completing my first certification I was eager to learn more, so I enrolled on the Advanced Diploma in Coaching. Over the next two years I worked towards this qualification and started building up my coaching experience whilst continuing to work on projects in the health sector. Working within the health service and experiencing first-hand the challenges faced by staff daily, I finally came to the realisation that I can personally have a greater impact at an individual level by combining my passion for the field of psychology with my experience in the sector.
Now I work with senior health sector leaders and their teams to help them navigate the intense pressure they experience every day, the constantly changing work environment, and challenging workplace dynamics. When their options appear to be ‘get out’ or ‘burn out’, I help them achieve a third, better way – to stay in the career they’ve worked so hard for, and develop themselves so they can feel energised, motivated, and engaged again, and perform to the best of their ability as the effective and inspiring leader their team needs.
It is now over a year since I launched my signature coaching programme for health sector leaders. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with inspiring health sector professionals who have dedicated their careers to helping others. People who throughout the global pandemic have gone over and above what was expected of them to support the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, and to ensure that those of us who needed to access health care services were able to do so safely. All of this, whilst strategizing and planning transformations in the health system to ensure it can cope with the future health needs of society.
Comes at a cost
Of course, all this dedication to helping others (whether directly or indirectly) comes at a cost. The pressure to deliver in a fast-changing environment inevitably takes its toll on most people at some point or another. People who work in the health and social care professions are much more likely than the general population to suffer from work-related stress and burnout. On the ground this results in absenteeism, intention to quit and staff turnover. Ultimately it has a negative impact on organisational and financial performance, patient satisfaction and care quality. In addition, unfortunately, once a person has experienced burnout, they will have to work even harder to find ways to cope. These are just a few of the reasons why I believe it is so important to invest in building the resilience of the health sector workforce. That’s why I work on building resilience with my clients, raising their self-awareness so they can recognise personal stress triggers and helping them to develop coping mechanisms to better manage work-related stress and deal with adversity.
My clients have reported benefiting from having a neutral person who listens and with whom it is possible to discuss issues, explore options, and find solutions. Just some of the positive effects which clients have reported relate to increases in self-confidence, emotional self-regulation, improved health and wellbeing, healthier work-life balance, better communication skills, improved relationships both inside and outside of work, and increased performance and productivity. Best of all, they report feeling happier and able to enjoy their work again!
Health Service Intervention
I place a lot of importance on and have lots of experience in evaluating health service interventions. I am continually looking at how I can improve things and increase performance, and so perhaps unsurprisingly, I have taken the same approach with my coaching programme. Since I launched my 1-2-1 programme for health sector leaders last year, I have gathered feedback from my clients and regularly assessed their progress against their goals to better understand which areas of the coaching intervention they enjoyed the most and which elements helped them to make the most significant breakthroughs and transformations. I have also reflected on my learning over the past year through my continuing professional development and supervision, and my growth and development as a coaching psychologist. I have used all this information to revise and further refine the coaching programme outline and ways of working so that the time we spend together has an even greater impact. I believe that the updated version of my 1-2-1 programme – the 3-month Inspiring Leader Programme – will provide my new clients with an even more rewarding experience!
Instead of allowing stress to spiral out of control and into burnout, you can take preventive action. Instead of just talking about it, show your team that you really care and value them by investing in their health and wellbeing. Enrolling yourself and your management team on my Inspiring Leader Programme will give you the opportunity to focus on building your emotional resilience reserves, leaving you feeling more energised, engaged, and effective at work and in other areas of your life. Trust me, I know from experience that your team will appreciate it and over time you will see the return on investment.
Inspiring Leader Programme
I am giving 5 new clients the opportunity to experience working with a coaching psychologist on a 1-2-1 basis over a 3-month period – helping them to achieve their goals and develop as inspiring and resilient leaders. The first intake will start in November, and I am taking enquiries during October. So, if you are ready to commit to making positive changes in time for the new year, do get in touch.
During my 3-month Inspiring Leader Coaching Programme for health sector professionals, we focus on six key areas:
#1 Your Health and Well-being – When you feel better, you’ll perform better. We’ll discover and explore your personal stress triggers and develop coping mechanisms to better manage stress when it does arise. By making your well-being a priority, you’ll begin to feel more in control of your personal experience and enhance your sense of self-belief.
#2 Your Emotional Resilience – Better understanding what builds up your emotional resilience and what chips away at it, so you can cope more effectively with adversity and stressful situations, overcome challenges and build strategies for success.
#3 Your Unique Personal Strengths – Discover how to draw on your skills, knowledge and experience to increase your energy, engagement and productivity at work and achieve your full potential.
#4 Your Core Values – Values and cultural fit are critical to your engagement and satisfaction at work, helping you to be more productive, involved and interested.
#5 Your Leadership Style – Aiming to be an inspiring leader with executive presence? We’ll reflect on your current style and strengths, then create a development plan to help you become the leader you want to be.
#6 Your Communication Skills – I start with an assessment of your current communication style and level of assertiveness, then I’ll help you communicate more effectively, so you can improve your relationships with colleagues.
This programme works best for people who are experiencing these feelings with their career:
- Have worked really hard to reach their career goals
- Know they have so much more to offer but recognise they need support to move forward
- Have already tried different strategies themselves and welcome a fresh perspective
- Recognise they need support to help them to refocus, build their resilience and be the inspiring leader they were meant to be
- Are willing to experiment with behavioural changes and developing new habits and routines
With this programme we work together using an evidence-based toolkit of psychologically informed and proven approaches – a range of assessments, one-to-one coaching sessions, and your implementation of what we discuss – so that you:
- Improve your health and wellbeing so that you are more energised, engaged, and effective at work and in other areas of your life
- Improve your relationships with colleagues so that you inspire your team
- Achieve a healthier and happier balance between work and life
- Become clearer about what you want and what you need to do to get there
- Build self-belief so that you can take your career to the next level
Here’s some of the feedback that I have received from my coaching clients.
“Mandy is an absolute delight. As somebody who was extremely hesitant about coaching, within 1 to 2 sessions I was soon looking forward to our next chat and it became the highlight of my week. I cannot overstate enough the difference that Mandy has made to my way of thinking – this has not only made me a better leader, but also positively affected my life hugely both in and out of work. My productivity and work relationships have all improved and this experience is one I would recommend to any leader and cannot think of a better person more suited to coaching than Mandy.” [Bobby, Operational Lead, Dental Triage]
“The coaching is helping me so much… it is getting me to think about things in a different way, including how other people may be feeling in a situation. I have found the coaching really beneficial. It has had a dramatic impact on my ability to stay calm at home and at work in situations where in the past I would have got very angry.” [Regional Lead, NHS England]
“I found the coaching to be highly productive, providing the tools required for my ongoing development. The coaching style ensured my engagement by providing a comfortable and supportive environment to examine my behaviours and understand how they can improve for my personal benefit and that of my colleagues.” [Andrew, NHS England]
Does this sound like the kind of intervention you’ve been searching for?
Take the first step today and contact me to arrange a chat so we can find out if it is the right fit for you.