We are amazed and delighted to be finalists in the European Mentoring and Coaching Council annual awards which will be announced at its annual conference in Istanbul in November 2015. And we find we have been nominated not only for coaching, but also as a coaching company and for leadership mentoring.
This feels like an embarrassment of riches but we are very proud of what we do.
For us, the language of coaching has become the lingua franca of our engagement with all our business clients. We know it works because they tell us it does. Our business style has evolved and become a mixture of mindfulness, coaching, mentoring and leadership development. We didn’t plan it that way but it is clear that it works. We believe in the power of coaching, but people often approach us not knowing what it is or how it works. We are quite clear about what it is . It is a method of working with individuals and teams where rigour, empathy, honesty, challenge, clarity, reflection and feedback are combined to enable clients and teams to be clear about their intentions, their language and their actions. We work with clients to help them clear the decks, examine the evidence, make a plan for change and then to implement it. Whatever the problem.
Our clients say that coaching is a little bit of magic, but we don’t agree. We work with clients so they understand themselves and acquire self-knowledge and power over the things that block their progress. The fact is that clients are the real agents for change, not the coach.
Mentoring is not coaching. Our mentoring programme has a different intention and serves a different client group. Mentoring is a development activity. At its core is the relationship between the mentor and the mentee, and the development and progress of the mentee is the key focus and the focus of the conversation is determined by the mentee. They lead in identifying issues and, with guidance from the mentor, resolving them whose role is to facilitate a breadth of thinking that leads them towards the answer that is right for them.
We mentor senior leaders in organisations, particularly in their first 100 days. But the main focus of our mentoring activity is our pro-bono work with charities, The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women – working with women setting up new businesses in developing countries; supporting the Student Enterprise and Employability Unit at the University of East Anglia and our work with the leaders of ambitious and progressive national and local charities. Our pro-bono work is funded through our fee-based consultancy, and accounts for about 15% of our annual turnover. It is our way of paying forward the experience and skills learned with clients, patients and business partners over the past 40 years.
And so, in a slight state of disbelief at being finalists again in the EMCC awards (last year won by the brilliant Coacharya), we are looking forward to the next stage and have had to do a little bit of ‘self-coaching’ and to acknowledge that we have worked hard to build a business to which people confidently return as they develop and encounter new challenges. Life is a continual process of renewal and learning never stops!
You might be wondering what is the EMCC? It is the professional body for coach and mentoring organisations that are bound by its code of conduct and ethics. It sets the standard for quality coaching and mentoring in Europe.