Conversation with Lisa

This is more than an ‘About’ page.  This is where you can find out more about who I work with, why I work with them and what I bring to the table.

Not everyone is going to be my client and that’s okay! Not every coach is right for you either.

Reading this may save you some time if we’re not a good fit, or it may reassure you that I am exactly the kind of coach you would like in your corner.  Of course a real life conversation is a better gauge but let’s start here for now, with some of the questions you are likely to have swirling around in your head as you consider hiring a coach.

What is your ‘Why’?

Quite simply, my mission and purpose is to facilitate and encourage peacemaking and peacekeeping throughout our society through:

  • Leadership Development, including developing leaders who will nurture future leaders.
  • Just Culture that facilitates fairness, accountability and learning through understanding human behaviours.
  • Restorative Just Culture – a culture of compassion that works to generate healing for all victims of human or system errors.
  • Conflict Resolution and Management through effective communication and personal development.
  • Inner peace for my clients through self-confidence, self-efficacy, habits and behaviours that are anchored in their most important values.
  • Peaceful workplaces and communities.

What qualifies you to do this?

I bring a wide breadth of knowledge, skills and qualifications (coach, trainer, nurse, midwife, Certified Just Culture Champion, business owner, non-profit governance, various leadership roles) earned over 33 years of my working life so far to my coaching practice.  Through ongoing and incessant (!) CPD, supervision and reflection I ensure I keep up to date on findings from research and recommended best practice in the fields of neuroscience, human physiology, leadership, Just Culture, resilience and personal development.

Who are your clients exactly?

Professionals, managers and business owners mainly, but I work with any adult who has come freely and willingly to coaching.

 Who are your ideal clients?

I feel especially called to work with managers in safety-critical and risk-averse sectors, who feel the pressure of responsibility for their team members and who want to do better in their leadership.

Why are you called to work particularly with managers in safety-critical sectors?

This is a difficult story to tell, and I’ve only started sharing it recently because I was afraid to before.

A year before this picture was taken, I had been involved in a medication error at work.

Thirty years ago when I was a student nurse, I gave a patient an insulin injection as prescribed.  What I didn’t know until 2 minutes later was that another nurse had already given him his insulin.  She was finished her work early, had decided (as caring healthcare professionals do!) to give me a head-start by giving that injection. Which would have been brilliant – except she clean forgot to mention it as she headed off for her break.

Long story short, the patient was okay (better than okay because for the next 2 hours he received much more attention than normal) but that was just luck.  He might not have been.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  Neither did my colleague.  But this slipped through the ‘swiss cheese’ of checks and barriers to prevent errors.

Because of the inherent stigma and shame in making mistakes in healthcare, we didn’t report the incident.  Every healthcare professional in the world will admit to making mistakes and having near misses, but they are very often not reported because of the very real fears of stigma, shame, losing their job and professional qualification, or dread of litigation.

What happens if we don’t adopt Just Culture in our workplaces and in society?

A culture of blame and shame is the enemy of safety, not just in healthcare.  Very few people in positions of responsibility get up in the morning and decide they are going to harm someone today.  When errors and near misses happen, they berate themselves, feel ashamed, lose confidence and internalise blame.

The suicide rates and level of mental ill-health associated with these errors are far too high.  Victims of mistakes are forced to go through onerous legal processes just to get answers on what happened.  Too much is paid out in the end, to the wrong people. Trust is damaged, often irreparably.  Long-term, no lessons are learned and we are no further on as society.  The next person into that situation will inherit the same system design and/or behavioural choice habits that failed the previous incumbent.

We are all human.  We make mistakes. Accidents happen to us.  Human errors happen to all of us, most days in fact.  We forget things.  We drop things.  We often take short cuts to save time and energy.  We lose the ability to see risk when we are exposed to it frequently and repeatedly.  Society has been moving towards expecting humans to be perfect all the time, but that’s not fair or possible.

How does Just Culture and Leadership Development benefit workplaces and society?

Just Culture is a model of learning, fairness and accountability in society and in workplaces. It gives us a sound framework to assess the behaviours and actions of employees.  This reduces the inclination to go straight to blame and retribution, and helps us avoid severity bias.  Leaders who use these models are fairer and therefore more effective in their role.  They are also able to sleep better at night knowing they made a carefully thought out decision based on clearly identified values.

Restorative Just Culture seeks to generate healing and learning after an error.  All victims are heard, looked after immediately and fully, and compensated quickly rather than pouring money into litigation.  Those who made the unintended error are consoled, and their experience is valued as a signpost to a better way.  All victims are invited to participate in a collaborative process that helps prevent future incidents and generate healing all around.

Leadership development models allow managers to stretch above their job title, inspire loyalty, motivate their staff and encourage efficiency and productivity.  Good leaders rise above reactionary behaviour and tend to respond to challenges in a measured, considered and calm manner.

I firmly believe that these models can appropriately address mistakes and harm, give managers the tools to deal with critical incidences fairly, reduce the cost of mistakes, encourage actual open disclosure (not just in policy but in practice) and make our society much more compassionate and humane.

It’s a win-win, but for some reason the blame culture has become embedded.  Changing that feels like trying to turn the Titanic with a spoon, but if you are willing to take up a spoon, become a champion of Just Culture and influence attitudes in your own circle, I would dearly love to talk to you.  I would even more dearly love to work with you if you are in a managerial role in a safety-critical or risk-averse sector, either through my training or coaching programmes, because we need real leaders in these sectors, possibly even more than other sectors.

What results do your clients get?

Through coaching and training I help them develop the skills they need to facilitate an open, transparent culture of safety and learning in their world.  This includes Just Culture, Restorative Just Culture, Conflict Management and Leadership models, as well as the personal growth that gains momentum through regular coaching with me, their trusted and skilled coach.

When my clients partner with me they initially feel an enormous sense of relief that their burden is shared.  Through ongoing coaching they then reveal new insights that illuminate their lives and workplaces so their impact extends beyond our sessions together, to a wider audience.  When that audience then teach and coach others in turn, they carry that baton of light even further.

What is your background Lisa and what led you to coaching?

I have wanted to ‘help’ people for as long as I can remember.  Growing up I had an intense intuition and empathy about how someone who was suffering was really feeling.   I decided very early on that becoming a nurse was the fastest and most impactful way I could help those who needed it, so throughout school my subject choices were focused on what I needed for nursing.  I literally counted down the days until I started nursing school and I put all my energy into being the best nurse I could possibly be.

Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t yet learned how to manage that intense empathy, and I burned out of nursing, twice.  I convinced myself I wasn’t made of strong enough stuff to handle the challenges and that I was better suited in organisational roles (another strength) that wouldn’t zap all my energy.

Runner-up VA of the Year All Ireland 2014.

Working in admin suited fine when my children were small as I could direct my energy to them.  I set up my first business as a Virtual Assistant which was perfectly flexible to their needs, occasional childhood illnesses, school runs, etc.

There wasn’t the same job fullfilment (although it was nice to win awards!) but of course there also wasn’t any of the distress and emotional toll that there was in nursing.

Diploma in Executive, Business and Personal Coaching, 2016

The opportunity to train as a coach came at just the right time, in every way, for me.  My children were becoming independent, I had the headspace, I was healed from the burnout and the universe moved everything I needed into my reach.

Having circled back into a role of ‘giving’ to others, I now have the maturity and experience to not only manage my own energy so I can continue to be of service at a high level, but I also have become expert in the physiology, social challenges and neuroscience of burnout versus success and high performance.  I would not be the coach I am now without the benefit of my own challenges and career pivots, let alone my coach training that taught me how to give, but also replenish my energy so I could keep giving. I’m certainly not at the ‘end’ of that journey – declaring arrival at a final station of resilience; I don’t think any of us ever will be.  It’s a constantly evolving process of stopping to notice, adjusting our sails and setting out again.  Some people bounce back.  Others crawl back.  I was trained in nursing to believe that pain is what the patient says it is.  That’s my belief about resilience too.  Each of us has our own interpretation and our own ways of managing our resilience.  My continuing development through reflective practice, reading, supervision and spending time with other coaches is my secret sauce to maintaining my equilibrium, supported also by daily habits that help me sustain my well-being.

This stability is what I bring to my clients through coaching. It allows me to arrive at each coaching session fully powered up, totally present and with energy to spare.  I have the strength to easily hold the space for each client with whatever they bring.  In that gentle but strong container of safety, my clients can reach deep into their own insights, explore their inner strengths and beliefs, bathe in the care and skills I bring and leave the session calm but invigorated, with clarity of vision and purpose.  I don’t book too many coaching sessions or meetings in any one day; this is to allow time in between so that I am refreshed and ready for the next client.

It’s difficult to explain the benefits of coaching sometimes, although most who have been through coaching will say it is transformational.  If I was asked what I ‘sell’, I would say it’s inner confidence, quiet gentle leadership, and the skills to manage conflict compassionately and effectively.

I’m not clear about how coaching differs from other interventions.  Can you explain this?

What coaching is: Coaching is an ongoing, interactive, professional relationship designed to help the client achieve his/her desired results in their career and in life.

The ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment.

“Coaching is the facilitation of learning and development with the purpose of improving performance and enhancing effective action, goals, achievement and personal satisfaction.  It invariably involves growth and change whether that is in perspective, attitude or behaviour” – Bluckert 2006.

What coaching is not: Coaching is not psychotherapy, counselling, advice or mentoring.  It is not a prescriptive or ‘fix me’ solution.  The client enters into the coaching with the full understanding that they are responsible for creating their own results.  However, as every coach knows, each person ‘is naturally creative, resourceful and whole’ (ref: Co-Active Coaching) so we know and believe you have the capacity to shine in every aspect of your life and we use proven coaching processes and tools to help you make that happen.

You will benefit from coaching if:

  • You are open to the process and trust your coach.
  • You are willing to explore, challenge and change thoughts, feelings and actions that may be self-defeating.  This is sometimes a difficult process, but coaching will support you throughout so that you can take meaningful action.
  • You understand that successful coaching requires a co-active collaborative approach between the client and coach.  In the coaching relationship, the coach plays the role of a facilitator of change, but it is the client’s responsibility to enact or bring about the change.

What is the coaching process?

The coaching process that I practise is client-centred and based on Carl Rogers’ approach which is underpinned by an ‘unconditional positive regard’ for the client.   Throughout your coaching process, I will provide the safe container of a warm, friendly and supportive coaching space for you to be free to speak, and to explore your thoughts and feelings in your own time without rush or judgement.  At the same time, when necessary I may nudge you along so that the sessions aren’t just an aimless chat with no progress made.  I promise to turn up at each session prepared and completely present for you and your coaching needs.  As my client you will be the centre focus of each minute of each session, and you can specify at any time if you have specific issues you would like to be coached on.  If you are not ready to discuss an issue at any time you can let me know.

What about confidentiality?

Your identity and everything you disclose during your coaching will be kept strictly confidential except in very rare circumstances where decreed by law.  Exceptions to confidentiality of course relate to circumstances such as intent to seriously harm someone or if there is risk to a child (ref: Children First).  I am fully compliant with the requirements under GDPR and I take all reasonable measures to ensure your Data Protections rights are upheld.

You mention Leadership, Just Culture and Resilience a lot.  Do you address other issues?

Yes, coaching in its purest form can be applied to any issue that a client brings. In my everyday practice I coach the person in front of me on that day, with whatever they have brought to the coaching session.  Resilience is a common thread in all my interventions because it’s the cornerstone of everything else.  If a client is depleted, exhausted, burned out or unwell they face an unnecessary uphill battle to be an effective leader, to manage difficult conflicts or to motivate others.  I work with leaders in all sectors, all communities and at all levels; those who know they are leaders as well as those who don’t see themselves as leaders but in fact, are. The only requirement is that they want to do better, and are open to the coaching process.

I am ready to hire a coach.  What should I look for?

All coaches, just like all humans, have a unique mix of strengths and experiences.  If you are shopping around for a coach you need to find someone you can connect with and trust.  All coaches provide a 20-30 minute no-obligation initial call, a ‘chemistry session’ where coaching is explained and the client outlines what they want to achieve.  It’s important to have this initial chat so that both client and coach can decide if the chemistry is right to start working together.  It has to be a good fit for both for it to be of benefit.

If you are indeed shopping around, make sure:

  • that your coach is appropriately qualified (i.e. that they have a Diploma in Coaching as a minimum),
  • that they are a member of coaching professional body. The three main ones are the Association for Coaching, the International Coaching Federation and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.  At present coaching is a largely unregulated profession but if the coach is a member of one of these bodies it’s an indication that they have done the minimum standard of training, that they keep themselves updated and most importantly that they are following the Global Code of Ethics that all three associations agree on.  This ensures quality.
  • that they receive regular supervision whether it’s formally with a qualified supervisor, peer-to-peer supervision or group supervision.
  • You should also make sure your coach carries professional indemnity.
  • Testimonials and your own gut instinct are good signposts for you to follow also.

Should I look specifically for a coach who has experience in my field of work?

Some people think they should work with coaches who have experience in the same sector, but there are many benefits of working with a coach from another field. One is that the client gets a fresh perspective.  Another is that the process of describing sector-specific issues to an ‘alien’ can be very enlightening, which is exactly what coaching is!  Some clients like that their coach is several steps of separation away from their immediate work network.

Who do you accept as clients?

I am a compassionate, non-judgemental, gentle and kind person so I only work with people who share these values.  My focus is on developing gentle quiet leadership skills in professionals, managers and business owners who:

  • want to do better in their leadership,
  • are willing and ready to stretch themselves towards having a bigger and better impact on the world and those around them,
  • strive to do their best,
  • try to avoid hurting or harming others,
  • are compassionate and honest.

Is there anyone you don’t work with?

Please know that I am very selective in who I work with so that we can hit the ground running and get real momentum going towards their goals. If you have been ‘sent’ unwillingly by your manager for coaching, want to be ‘fixed’, expect to be a passive recipient of success, or are closed in your mindset to the opportunities that coaching offers, you are not going to benefit from coaching.   I only take on clients who have come to coaching willingly, who are open to the process, willing to engage and follow through, and who know that their results will depend on them taking their own actions, albeit with me championing and nudging/pushing for progress.  I also only work with people who share the same values as me (as explained above). If this is not you, I (gently and with no judgement whatsoever) suggest that you re-evaluate whether you need coaching or another intervention.  This can save us both some time!

Sometimes people present with issues that would be best brought to another professional such as a different kind of coach or a healthcare provider.  In this case I discuss options fully with the potential client.  I  ensure that they are referred appropriately and that follow up has occurred.  I would always rather that they have spoken to me than no-one at all.

What is expected of me as your coaching client?

Coaching clients need to commit to their personal and professional development, and commit to powering through even when faced with obstacles (especially when faced with obstacles!).  Clients need to set aside protected, private and uninterrupted time for each session.  If you are having phone/online coaching, you should ensure that the line is clear and that you are in a quiet place, uninterrupted and with your phone off or on silent.  To get the best value from the investment of your time and money in coaching, you should make every effort to complete exercises and practise new skills between sessions.

How quickly can I expect results?

Clients always report feeling lighter, more motivated and inspired with better clarity at the end of a coaching session.  However, for change to be long-lasting you should have a minimum of four sessions, about a month apart.  Most executive coaching engagements are 8 sessions initially.  Sometimes clients come back for a re-fresh session if they find themselves slipping back into old habits or have encountered a new challenge.  The speed and extent of results will depend on your commitment to your growth, although your coach will ensure you don’t rest on your laurels and that you either uphold your promises to yourself or re-evaluate them if they are not what you actually wanted, deep down.

Will I recover the investment I put into coaching?

This of course depends on what benchmark you have set yourself and the value you put on achieving your goals.  Research shows that in corporate environments the return is about 7 to 8 times the initial investment in coaching.  This is measured in a range of benefits such as reduced staff turnover and increased productivity and efficiency among others.

I’m not sure I’m ready to get started. Is there a way to sample some of your training so that I get a sense of you as a person and as a coach?

Yes, there are several ways to suit all budgets.

How will we work together and what does a coaching engagement entail?

  1. First we will arrange an initial chemistry call – about 20-30 minutes – to discuss your needs and goals, and how coaching works.
  2. If we are both happy to proceed, we will book between four and eight sessions, 1-1.5 hours per session at monthly intervals. Most coaches agree that this interval is optimal for trying out new behaviours while not losing momentum, although of course the schedule can be accelerated if needed.
  3. I will send you a coaching contract and unless you have any queries from that we will assume it’s agreed. You will also be issued with an invoice.  New clients are required to pay in advance to secure their time in my diary.
  4. We will regularly review progress during the coaching engagement and at the end to ensure you have achieved what you set out to.

What is your cancellation policy?

Cancellations within 48 hours of face-to-face sessions or within 24 hours of phone coaching sessions will incur a cancellation fee (i.e. the full fee for that session is forfeit).

If the client is late, the session will still finish at the pre-arranged time and there will be no credit.

If I have to cancel any session due to unforeseen circumstances or emergency, every effort will be made to reschedule at a time convenient to you.

What professional body are you a member of?

I am a member of the Association for Coaching and I adhere to their Codes of Ethics in relation to all aspects of coaching practice and supervision. Their Codes of Ethics are available to view on their website.
www.associationforcoaching.com

Do you hold the appropriate insurance?

Yes, I hold all the appropriate and relevant insurances required for coaching.

Okay, I’m ready to do this for myself, or I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?

Of course, and please do!  An actual conversation is the best way for us to connect.

Just e-mail me and we’ll organise a good time to chat.

All the best,

Lisa Nolan
Tel: +353 (0) 42 – 969 2403
e-mail: Lisa [at] aslancoaching [dot] ie