Reviewed Piece of SF work: Jenny Clarke
Coaching Skills for Leaders – encouraging coaching as part of the Leader’s skill set
Part of a coaching development programme for senior leaders in part of the publicly-owned National Health Service. The programme lasts for 6 months or so and aims to develop a coaching leadership style. Participants receive a 2 day training programme (introducing the OSKAR model developed by Jackson & McKergow), supplemented by 2 half day and one full day follow up sessions (delivered by other members of the sfwork team). During this 6 month period, participants receive coaching from external coaches – members of the sfwork team. The external coaches have one face-to-face meeting with their coachees, followed by 5 telephone coaching sessions. This gives them experience of being coached while practising the skills themselves. So far, we have enrolled 8 cohorts onto the programme – a total of 97 people. One more cohort is about to start on the programme, which in itself is high praise from the client organisation. I have been the external coach for 19 of these individuals.
“Your affirmations were amazing and felt so genuine. They gave me a warm glow and belief in myself that I have never received from anyone else.”
“This has been a wonderful life changing opportunity that I will cherish and treasure. It’s really helped me back on the right road for me!”
This was a very rewarding experience: during the review conversation we discussed the concept of “culture”; platform building and the art of what I called purposeful listening – listening FOR hints of what the client wants and what is already in place which might take him/her in a useful direction; the “miracle question” process; the importance of affirmations, both in the moment and as reinforcements later. I was particularly pleased to be asked with real curiosity about how I use affirmation to draw out so many resources from my clients. I am very grateful to my reviewers for their work and for a very stimulating and thought provoking conversation.
The resource gossip with Jenny indicated that she is a reflective and respectful practitioner. She keeps a tight and conscious rein on the principles of SF in her work and her variations around its use have been thoughtfully considered. Her work indicated that she listens acutely to her clients, following the clues in the conversation, accepting and working with their perceptions. She demonstrated a clear ability to move the client from a consideration of internal to observable states that assisted the client. Her report demonstrated interactions that kept the door open to signs of a better future in difficult circumstances. She also demonstrated the skill of seeing everything as useful when working with clients’ anger and frustration. Her work suggested that Jenny focuses clients on working on the interactions in the workplace and that she distinguishes between signs and steps depending on circumstance. The resource gossip generated discussions about interpretations of SF in practice to be considered moving forward.
Second Reviewer summary:
It was a pleasure to review Jenny’s submission. The three case studies Jenny describes illustrated her skill at working with the individual (not the problem), staying at the surface, and fitting the process to the client’s narrative. Two aspects of Jenny’s written submission I found particularly deserve merit:
Jenny’s submission could have been titled “The Magic of Affirmation” – she seems highly talented at eliciting, in detail, client resources and strengths and playing this back in useful and respectful ways. The client commentary in all three cases alluded to the value of Jenny’s affirmations. Insoo’s eloquent description of the worker’s role in providing a “tap on the shoulder” is especially emphasised in Jenny’s work.
I think it was also Insoo who stated that solutions are found in the detail not generalisations. What impressed me here is the detail Jenny captures from her coaching. The follow-up notes are a rich narrative record. I guess the follow-up notes are a powerful intervention in their own right as the client is reading about their own life in a frame of possibility.
The written submission conveyed to me that Jenny is someone who has a complete belief in the SF process – “clues” were plentiful in her “position” as a practitioner. The ‘Resource Gossip’ added richness to the “clues” present in Jenny‘s practice.
- Lead Reviewer: Carey Glass
- Second Reviewer: Adie Shariff
About The Candidate:
Jenny Clarke is the co-Director of the Centre for Solutions Focus at Work (sfwork). Following a long career in the energy industry she has spent the last 15 years as an independent facilitator and coach. She works with large organisations, groups and individuals adapting to change and as a personal coach to managers and directors. She loves travelling and has worked in both hemispheres and east and west of the Greenwich Meridian..