The Learning Journey

At i-coach, students are encouraged to develop their own theoretical perspective of coaching by critically reflecting on their current and past experiences and knowledge as well as integrating new theory and approaches through experimentation and application. The programme is designed to support students to articulate their own unique approach as opposed to memorising the “right” answers or modelling the “right” behaviours. Faculty act as facilitators, encouraging students to discover principles for themselves and to construct knowledge by working in collaboration with others.

Since coaching is inherently interdisciplinary, our curricula draws on broad areas of knowledge that inform the field of coaching. Learning to become a coach is a voyage of discovery as intense, emotional and challenging as any your clients will undertake with you. We don’t believe in taking shortcuts and the journey is sometimes difficult. However, by the end of the journey you will be a competent and a compassionate coach, well equipped to accompany your clients on their individual learning journey.

Synthesised Summary Statement from co-researchers in doctorate research exploring the experience of developing Professional Coaching Practice, (Horner, 2005)

“My experience of developing professional coaching practice has been one of a quest where I have confronted steep and rocky paths, blissful vistas and extreme emotions. At times it has felt that I have been out on an edge without a parachute and this has evoked anxiety, fear, vulnerability and loneliness as well as excitement, freedom, elation, affirmation and pride.

Core to this rollercoaster ride has been the opportunity to complete a puzzle that I have subconsciously been building for years. Developing professional coaching practice has allowed me a vehicle to integrate many varied life experiences and knowledge and to reconsider my personal and professional identity.

Initially the journey was one of self understanding and whilst I had experienced much self development throughout my career, this aspect of the journey has challenged me deeply, forcing me to make my core values and beliefs evident and then to test these in practice to consider if they are core to me. Thus I have consistently been challenged as to how I see and understand and consequently participate in the world.

When starting this quest I considered myself open to learning, accepting of diversity and to be a role model for embracing change. However I have been tested to explore just how open and flexible I really am. When forced to face the world in a different way, I resisted and rejected many learning challenges offered to me preferring to stay with what I knew and understood, fearful of the unknown. My discomfort with ambiguity and my desire for there to be a “right” answer haunted me and initially compelled me vehemently to seek clarity, structure and a destination. I finally had to face that there was no end point and that the journey to professional practice is evolving and infinite.

When I did eventually “let go”, I was plunged unceremoniously into a cesspool of unconscious incompetence where I wallowed for some time in a place of low confidence and self doubt before emerging with an ever increasing sense of confidence and self belief. I began to value my own skills and gifts more deeply whilst simultaneously acknowledging my limitations and failures.

This emergent space is a grounded and centred place where I know who I am and what I can offer to the world, not just as a coach but as a human being. For me, coaching is no longer something I do when I am sitting in front of a client, it is part of who I am. I now feel seen as a whole person and a more mature, conscious individual. I know who I am and who I am not and no longer need to prove myself, having more confidence in my contribution. As a result, I have moved on from some people during this journey and connected more with others.

At times the quest has felt like a learning assault where I have been forced to take responsibility for myself and my learning. In some ways this mirrors my own and my clients’ experience of being coached. I have learnt that knowledge alone is useless and that application of knowledge is what leads to critical integration and ultimate effectiveness. The role of developing reflective capacity has been immense and has become an unconscious skill that will continue to inform and evolve my practice. I have an increased sense of responsibility and ethical consciousness towards others and whilst I occasionally feel daunted by the concerns my clients entrust to me, I feel resourced to handle these.

I am aware however that I did not get to this point on my own and acknowledge that whilst I could have done, it would have taken years. The journey itself has been a teacher and my education programme has proved a crucible for my growth. My clients, peers, supervisors and friends have offered feedback, affirmation, challenge and support to get me to where I am today. The task of creating my own coaching framework and model has been paradoxically liberating. For whilst it has forced me to really think and be conscious of how I actually work in a structured and explicit way, it has afforded me the freedom to create my own approach which is coherent, explicit and up to critical review.

Reflecting at this stage of the journey I am conscious of how much of my framework is no longer as explicit as it once was, integrated into unconscious competence. However, I feel more confident and equipped for completing this rigorous task and conscious that being an evolving framework it will remain a foundation for my professional development throughout my coaching career.”

I found Caroline to be an astute empathetic coach, who was highly skilled in holding the conversation and helping me to move forward on my issues.

Senior Leader,
Defence Academy of the UK

I’m confident, assertive, whilst more relaxed in my own style of leadership, and comfortable around senior people. In being more confident, I am already making a greater impact at work.

Ministry of Defence Civil Servant,
Coaching Client

Incredibly enlightening...... Caroline taught me how to understand I operated, what I valued, how people were different ...once you have such an understanding it then becomes far easier to succeed in managing relationships.

Senior Leader,
Coaching client

I expected that the coaching sessions would give me some professional guidance and advice around my personal development and particularly on my leadership skills. The coaching sessions certainly helped me to enhance my listening skills as a way of ensuring effective communication between colleagues. Now, I feel better equipped to coach junior colleagues as well as connecting more effectively with more senior colleagues when I am running my production performance meetings. For me, it was all about improving my interaction with other team members to help achieve the best team decision. my coach helped me to achieve that.

ALDP Participant,
BP Angola

Early 2007 I was transitioning to a new role, which was in a completely different area of the business, with very different challenges compared to my previous role. The ALDP coaching programme really helped me to quickly go through the steep learning curve of the new role, and improve my personal effectiveness and self confidence. I was assigned a coach to work with, who had a lot of experience and was passionate at coaching. His simple, but structured approach to coaching was enjoyable and really helped me to find the right direction, make the right decisions, and become confident to challenge and communicate effectively.

ALDP Participant,
BP Angola

Using different styles and tackling a range of work and personal issues [Caroline] pushed me and challenged me to take me out of my comfort zone. She really made me think about me, my role, my style and my development potential. I am now putting a lot of what we discussed into practice and I recognise that today it is having a positive effect on my approach to both my work and my professional development.

Senior Leader,
BBC Operations Group

Eunice Aquilina is a jewel in the coaching crown. Endlessly patient, she enables you to arrive at the right solution for you in a way that makes you realise that you have owned it from the beginning. Her impactful coaching style builds confidence and facilitates personal development which leads to a much more effective approach to solving difficult business issues. She is clear, confident and extremely challenging, but in a way that leaves you wanting more. I found her coaching to be invaluable to my business needs, and fun too.

Senior Leader,
BBC South

What was excellent was i-coach academy’s flexibility with how people were responding, as well as their attention to how RCN wished to see coaching sit within the organisation’s culture.

Julie Carrington,
Royal College of Nursing

Caroline’s skills in learning design are … evident in her contribution to the design of the programme and her continuous feedback on ways in which we may still improve for the benefit of the learners. Her module on coaching I regard as best practice for both its theory and the facilitation of the learning process.

Birgitte Davy,

Professor Mike van Oudtshoorn is a passionate speaker, a clear systematic thinker and the most powerful advocate for the profession of coaching. We were all impressed by the speed with which he got to grips with our business issues and identified where our needs lay. Mike made everyone feel at ease, from the most senior executives down and we were soon sharing the challenges and engaging with the issues in a very constructive atmosphere. He didn’t spoon feed us with solutions but enabled us to develop our own ideas which was far more valuable. In the true spirit of coaching, he was facilitative rather than telling, addressing our business needs and communicate the big picture. In particular, Mike managed to make performance management seem easy with his clear and logical way of explaining how to get the best out of people. He truly is a leader in his field.

Sarah Bater,
Kingfisher PLC

The depth of expertise in i-coach academy combined with their professionalism and skill in learning design and delivery has seen them deliver a series of successful programmes, which have really made a difference to the participants’ ability to perform in our organisaton.

Paul Ellis,
Defence Academy of the UK

Throughout … Caroline has demonstrated the right balance between empathy and challenging me to focus on the end result. … I feel that I have developed a relationship of trust with her. I felt that she had a lot to offer not only as a professional coach but also because of her international experience and background which enables her to understand different contexts with the right level of sensitivity and interest

Tana Holness,
BP Angola

Both Caroline and Eunice handled the group with exceptional professionalism and with authority which stemmed from their vast knowledge of coaching.

Steve Eades,

Working with i-coach was inspirational. The programme was a huge success for BP.

Joanna Yates,
Programme co-ordinator, BP