Starting a new course can be daunting. Having your employer pay for the course and expect to see a return on their investment is terrifying. It was with these thoughts that I arrived at Day One of Leadership through Coaching on 28th April 2014. Now I am half way through the course, I wanted to take the time to write a reflection on what – if anything – I might have learned so far.

Since that day, I still find the course somewhat daunting. “What sort of daunting is that daunting?” a clean language coach might ask…well, it’s the kind of daunting that makes you feel like there’s so much to learn and practice and observe and think about that you think you’ll never be able to do it all in one lifetime; or at least during one appraisal process.

It’s inspirational and thought provoking and challenging and it’s terribly exciting because the possibilities are hugely exciting, both personally and professionally. This discovery was a surprise to me; I expected to pick up a few hints and tricks about how to ask people what their Goal is and how they will move towards it from their current Reality by exploring the Options and then determining their Will to do what they say.

However, I did not expect to adopt a new way of thinking when it came to my personal relationships, my engagement with two step-children or to question what it means to ‘be human’.

Anyone who is studying will know that theorists love an acronym, so while I’m not a theorist I thought I would use one as a tool to try and summarise my reflections and learnings to-date. Here’s what I came up with: LOVE: Listen, observe, value & enquire.

Listen: It would appear that I have not been listening very well so far in my life. I feel like I have had my listening levels turned all the way down low and now, since starting the course they are being turned up all the time. The listening ladder has been a great tool in helping me realise that I so often listen to respond. I’ve spent my life just waiting for my turn, afraid that if I don’t speak up or interrupt someone I won’t be heard, or noticed or promoted. I still catch myself at times typing away on my laptop while writing out an envelope and speaking to someone on the phone. Just today someone was talking to me at my desk and I ‘just quickly sent an email’. So it’s fair to say my reflections and learnings haven’t quite transformed into practice 100% of the time. But for now that’s okay, I’m pleased just to have noticed what I did today.

Observe: You know when superheroes first get their new powers and they suddenly see dust particles moving or can hear an ant walking down the road three miles away? This heightened sense of observing and noticing feels a little bit like that (just without the spandex). I notice how I engage with people, how others engage with each other, I notice the people who never speak up in meetings, how my partner doesn’t always enable his children. The list is endless and it’s continuous. Slowly some of these observations are progressing into changes in behaviour and I’m pleased to say that I am also observing changes in other peoples’ behaviour as a result. Managers that would phone me for an answer are now responding much more positively when I ask what they would like the outcome to be and some conversations feel different, like they know what to expect and are happy with that.

Value: If we’re not listening and we’re not giving people our full attention then how can we be valuing them as individuals? If we think we know best, if we assume that just because they have a problem they can’t possibly have the answer as well, how do we value their thoughts and their abilities to problem solve? And, more worryingly, how will they value themselves? One of the most useful parts of this course was being introduced to Nancy Kline’s Time to Think. I haven’t finished it yet, mainly because I keep re-reading parts of it, but I know when I do it won’t be too far away from me. I’ve already been able to initiate a change in our values in the workplace by starting a ‘no interruptions’ rule in our senior management team meetings and I am excited about the other ways in which I will start to cultivate a thinking environment. Additionally, and quite unexpectedly the course also led to me find the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (Faber and Mazlish) and I have been stunned at how remarkably similar the concepts are and I am sure that my partner is somewhat fed up of me using the analogy of manager and employee when talking about us and the children (okay, the term ‘micro manager’ may have been flung about once or twice). Both books have really taught me how important it is to acknowledge and value people’s feelings. When someone says “I can’t do that I’m too stupid” the most unhelpful thing in the world is to say “you’re not stupid”. I now have a set of tools to try and value those feelings and I try to think about the Discover Deepen Do model to actually generate some conversation and change in a person’s thinking. Much to my partner’s annoyance; cries of “oh you’re coaching me again” are quite commonplace nowadays.

Enquire: What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions, a consequence of our sophisticated spoken language (Jane Goodall – primatologist).

I can’t help but think that if we all had a little more LOVE in our lives, at home and at work, we would be better thinkers, better communicators, more effective in all we do and a little more human.

With that in mind, as I approach the second part of the course, the following are what I consider to be my biggest challenges currently: • Wanting to do everything, change everything and practice everything now, now, now! • Understanding the dynamic and ethics of being an HR/Coach • Being confident enough to use the models and my learnings in practice So, mirror, mirror on the wall…looks like there’s a chance of me being a coach one day after all.