Once clarified, passion drives people to live life with meaning, excitement and enthusiasm. When passionate people talk about what they do, it radiates out of them. For some, there is a quiet intensity about them, for others; there is an aura of energy and excitement. Their speech speeds up and their eyes light up.
We’ve all seen really passionate people. Remember Laurie Lawrence and his “Kids Alive – Do The Five” program. His passion and enthusiasm is infectious. Being a coach means bringing your own passion to your work. One of the most exciting things about coaching is helping someone clarify the changes they want to make and supporting them to take steps towards their goal. If you’re going to help someone else develop in some way, what could be more important than taking the time to really be clear about what excites and drives you?
Clarify your passion
Who will be your client and how you will work with them? These are the keys to identifying your niche, that special area of life where you can give your best to another who is seeking guidance and clarity. Use what you know about yourself and your life experience to define your area of interest. Knowing what has meaning for you and finding where that fits in the world is a great way to define your coaching niche.
You may have had specialised training, giving you technique and skill which is highly valuable to others who are seeking to improve their own expertise and outcomes. Or, through your work, you may have gained some commercial knowledge that will assist others in their endeavours. Coaching is now used in many varied and different areas of life: sport, business and personal development to name a few.
We will look at three coaches who each in their own way have used their own passion and knowledge to develop careers coaching women.
The specialised training that Adam Commens has received throughout his very successful hockey career makes him highly qualified to be Head Coach for the Australian Hockeyroos Team. It would be fair to say that Adam is passionate about hockey. After all, he started playing hockey as a boy, went on to international success as an adult, culminating with a Bronze Medal in the 2000 Olympics. Adam went on to become an international coach prior to undertaking the role of Head Coach for the Australian Hockeyroos.
Gender is not the motivating force for Adam. He coaches a hockey team of women that plays at the highest level. “Ultimately, as a coach, your job is to get the best out of each individual within a team as well as attempting to get the team as a whole to perform at its best. In our program we strive for continual improvement of each individual player and how they work together as a unit.” However, men and women are physiologically different and he says, “Understanding the hormonal differences between men and women can alter the way you program the physical training to optimise the development of female athletes.”
Coaching within any discipline often encompasses multiple areas of life and Adam says, “It is also important to be aware or the social pressures on females with regards to body image and the associated disorders that go with this.” He is clearly aware of coaching his team members as whole individuals rather than just hockey players and says the coaching program provides education and both psychological and medical support to the athletes.
Adam has used his training and expertise as a hockey player and developed his coaching skills to become a highly successful coach at the international level. The current success of the Hockeyroos’ is testament to his knowledge and skill. As Head Coach he works at a very high level of coaching, however doesn’t lose sight of the individual differences of the players and the group he is coaching. Knowing who your client is and the complexities of their lives will enhance their coaching experience.
Passion pours out of Sally-Anne Blanshard when she starts talking about her coaching business, Nourish Coaching. “I could talk for days about this stuff,” she says with a laugh. Sal, as she prefers to be known, says she was “crystal clear” about who and how she would coach when she started out but, interestingly, since she has been in business, a niche has developed.
Sal has previously worked both in financial planning and recruitment and after becoming a trusted advisor in the recruitment industry, said she consciously thought about how she could capitalise on her experience and make a career out of her advisory role. She then went on to develop a coaching practice.
As a direct result of her workplace experience, Sal says, “My business straddles two areas: Career Coaching – a legacy of my recruitment work and Micro-Business.” She says she tells her clients, “I help people get better in their jobs, to seek out new jobs or if they want to create their own jobs, then I am skilled in helping them develop their own business.”
A typical client for Sal is now the working mother who has developed an idea or a product during their maternity leave. “We basically turn that hobby into a business,” says Sal. She helps them to, “commercially understand what they’re offering, how to amplify their brand and amplify their revenue.” She says that she didn’t expect her business to go this way but she is very passionate about helping women to create those businesses. Sal says, “I tell my clients I am a silent business partner, but very vocal.”
Sal emphasises the importance of flexibility in your business. She says it has helped her to recognise the emerging niche as her business developed. She reinforced the need for clarity around who your client really is. Her suggestion for new coaches is to create a storyboard defining your client. Then you can direct all your marketing messages to your intended client and the audience that client represents will become your market. Finding a voice for your own passion will help you to define the client and your niche.
My own passion is to help women successfully develop leadership skills. My business, EQ Women, focuses on coaching working women 30-45 years old, to build the knowledge and insight to become successful leaders in their workplace. The development of EQ or emotional intelligence is widely recognised as a key component in becoming a successful leader. Some people have an innate ability to be great leaders, but many don’t. However, leadership skills can be developed and my niche is coaching women to develop those skills.
Why am I passionate about coaching women to develop this insight and skill?
My own career path has been varied with broad experience in numerous areas. I have a background in small business, marketing and sales, corporate management, human resources and as a psychologist. Along the way, I learnt a lot about EQ through hands-on experience that took time and significant personal development. My developed skill and knowledge allows me to help other women develop themselves in a safe, supported and learning environment.
When working as a counselling psychologist, I realised that many women presented not as a result of an organic mental illness but because of a lack of confidence, self-belief and insight. With the development of insight and confidence, personal growth can be remarkable. Self-awareness is a significant factor in developing emotional intelligence and emotional intelligence is recognised as a vital element in being an effective leader. I support women who would like to achieve more in the workplace and that’s my passion.
It took me a while to define my niche and it was only when I started reflecting on my own journey that I was able to clearly define who I wanted to coach.
It is clear from the three stories that each coach has drawn on their own life experience and adapted it to their coaching practice. Defining your niche may take a while. It doesn’t always jump out at you. But as Sal says, “You have to start.”
Once you know where you want to work, invest in a recognised training program to develop your coaching skills. Sally-Anne Blanshard, who completed a coach-training program says, “If people were going to pay me to give advice, then I should invest in myself to give the appropriate level of advice.”
When I decided to close my psychology practice and focus on coaching, I also completed a coach-training program. Ongoing education is a part of professional development, an investment in yourself and your business as well as giving your clients a best practice service.
Powerful Stories, Tips and Amazing Insight
Ready, Set, Go! Everything you need to know to start coaching from the legends in the field. As well as the Business and Life coaches, our launch edition features David Parkin (AFL), Lisa Alexander (Netball Australia), Adam Commens (Hockey Australia), Simon Cusack (Swimming Australia), Sean Douglas (FFA) and many more!