Thank you, Mrs. Moneypenny!

Thank you, Mrs. Moneypenny!

For saying that

“Your Coach may have it tougher than Amelia Mauresmo”

One of the things I most enjoy on a Sunday morning is sitting down with my Lapsang Souchoung cup of tea and reading the Weekend Financial Times. Religiously, I read the Weekend FT every Sunday morning I can. I turned first to the columns penned by Mrs. Moneypenny. I say, turned, in the past tense, because she is no longer writing for the Weekend FT. I saw her column that I am referring to in Thursday’s edition in June (to be exact, June 19th of this year).

You are probably asking yourself, who is Mrs. Moneypenny, and, who is Amelie Mauresmo. More later about Mrs. Moneypenny. Amelie Mauresmo is the new tennis coach that Andy Murray hired before the Wimbledon championship.

Mrs. Monneypenny is the CEO of a business enterprise, which consults other business enterprises on how to be more efficient and effective. She is a woman who hunts, flies her own small aircraft, and raises 3 children, all boys, whom she affectionately refers to as Cost Centres, #1, 2 and 3. No, she is not a single parent. She is married to an Australian, who is mad about cricket. When she reflected on her experiences as an executive, mother, and writer, she didn’t think hiring a coach would do her much good. She did hire one, however, female, but not French, at the insistence of her non-executive director. The NED thought the company could perform better if its chief executive were likewise performing better as a business leader and, as she puts it, ‘not killing herself in the process.’  Much to her surprise, and my delight, as an executive coach, she began to see the value of having a coach.

In a Right Management survey of human resource professionals, 81% of the respondents said that coaching improves the effectiveness of leaders. But what the leaders? What do they say? Which is why I am thanking Mrs. Moneypenny for telling us she saw the value in having a coach.

Coaches are not necessarily there for the professional recalcitrant, which was the common perception a number of years ago when I began coaching. “Tom is not performing up to par, his performance review is very negative, his 360 degree feedback reports are way below the norms, let’s hire him a coach and see if that could turn him around before we fire him.”

I would like to think today the view has changed. Coaches are there for those who are already playing a top game and help them play it better. Coaches are not hired as advisors, or even mentors. They are there to help their clients effect change.  They are especially useful when clients are blocked in some way. The client wants to get to point B from point A, but there is a boulder in the path.  Coaches help the client take another perspective on the problem or find a way to go around the boulder. They also encourage clients to reflect on how they make decisions, work at relationships, lead and work in teams, as well as balance what can be the conflicting demands of work and personal lives.

The idea is that the coach assists the client in becoming self-sufficient. Coaches are not there to create dependency, but to facilitate the client’s learning so that they can handle life on their own.

Having a coach is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is sign of confidence in our ability to learn, grow, and thrive.

Reading Mrs. Moneypenny’s revelations about the benefits of coaching made me question whether or not this coach needs a coach. I especially thought about that when I had the results of a Personal Directions Inventory assessment I recently took. The assessment was developed by the Management Research Group and I am currently becoming a certified user. Receiving my own feedback report is a part of the process.

I looked at some scores and thought, “I don’t like what I see. I should do something about that.”  The premise of the PDI is that we create our world. What we make, we have the power to change.  That is pretty empowering, not to say inspiring. I believe we create our worlds – and what I created, I can change.

Which brings me to a thought many of you might have. Do coaches take their own medicine? Do they become ‘coachee’s’? Or, in professional parlance, are they supervised in any way?

Most coaches do both. One of the most important things I learned at the Hudson Institute, where I was trained in an ICF certified program, was the importance of knowing the Self as Coach. I must thank Pam MacLean for that. Who and what I am, is what I bring to my clients. Pam says Hudson coaches are the best. I would like to think that is true. Not because it means more clients, but because it means I am becoming a better coach, mother, friend, and lover.

So, thank you again, Mrs. Moneypenny for your stimulating articles which nourished me on Sunday mornings and for sharing so much about yourself and your experience with a coach.

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