A very personal note….
It was a long time coming. I decided in 2005 that I eventually wanted to run my own coaching business. I developed my coaching practice over many years and that development journey had started way before then. I amassed the experience which I believe is a pre-requisite before one can practise as an executive coach, including:
- Coaching experience, of course. Lots.
- Qualification, naturally.
- Commercial and business experience.
- Board-room/management team experience – consulting to and being a member of them.
- Leadership development.
- Working with and coaching many leaders as part of my HRD roles.
- More and more professional development for me.
- Hard work, very hard work, looking at myself and working out “why would anyone want to be coached by me?”It’s a big question. I know what the answer is – it emerged over time and continues to evolve.
- I worked over the years to ensure that gaps were filled.
- All of the above and more.
Finally in 2012 I decided I was ready and in 2013, five years ago, I set up Chelsham. A few years earlier than I’d expected. My own little company. It was always designed to be a micro-business however I have a small number of fantastic Associates and, indeed, sometimes act as an Associate myself.
To start with it was positioned as coaching, facilitation and consulting. For that is what I/we do. It has been repositioned as “coaching executives, leaders, teams and organisations”. For that is what I/we do. Along with a growing number of speaking engagements.
There are ups and downs. Of course there are. Sometimes the downs were challenging but who said it was going to be easy?
I’ve learned so much. I’d never set up and run a company before. I know that ‘respecting my own boundaries’ is always the right call. I offer business to others if it is more ‘their thing’ and in return others offer business to me. That’s how I want it to be. I’ve experimented with all sorts of marketing initiatives but none has been as effective as my own personal networking. I’ve become very clear on my mission and experience and on choosing to be a courageous coach – non-directive as appropriate and also willing/able to challenge & hold people to account. I’ve learned when and how I can adeptly use my intuition. I’ve made business mistakes and yet also got a few things right that I wasn’t sure about at the time. People have been unexpectedly helpful whilst others, a smaller group, have been unexpectedly unhelpful. So much learning in there.
I am so grateful to my clients, to the people whom I have coached, to my networks (online and ‘in the real world’) and to the family & friends who have supported me. Andrea above all. It seems to be working. Chelsham has just had its best half-year. Inevitably there will be a lull now (in this business one follows the other as night follows day) but…hmmm…maybe I am getting used to that after all.
So what is it that I’ve done over these years? Some examples would be:
- Worked with a ‘future CEO’ as he sought, gained and prepared to succeed in the CEO role.
- Coached partners in law & professional services firms as they’ve grappled with significant sectoral change and worked out what leadership meant to them.
- Helped many people in many sectors achieve swifter, more effective transitions into new roles and/or new companies/firms.
- Facilitated sessions on topics including leadership (of course), inclusion (also of course), top-team formation & development, navigating change.
- Spoken to audiences on a variety of topics related to the above.
- Supported a previously high-performing player in getting back on track and returning to the levels of performance they expected of themselves.
- Guided HR professionals through significant functional and organisational change.
- Ditto finance and marketing professionals.
- Consulted with varying types of organisation (a private school, a charity, a conglomerate, an LLP) on team work and creating a performance culture.
- Coached multiple people in a number of organisations. Now that is gratifying.
- Equally enjoyed the ‘one offs’.
- Provided pro bono coaching to small charities and deeply discounted coaching to larger not-for-profits.
- Helped ‘rising stars’ (future leaders) explore leadership and what it means to them.
- Started working with SME owners in my local area – again at deeply discounted rates.
- So much more … but I risk boring you now.
I’ve had tough times – particularly in the third year for some reason. I’ve had fun – throughout.
And people are kind enough to say these kinds of things.
I love what I do. I hope it shows. It’s what I am also meant to do. I hope that shows too.
Five years. Wow. Long may it continue.
PS The accompanying photo is the first one we used as part of the Chelsham brand. As with all of them, I took it.
PPS This song by The Man seems an appropriate way of signing off this blog.