I want to share a journey I have been on over the past year in case it resonates or encourages you to take your own personal development steps!
I came away with specific understanding and commitment to my leadership credo which included consciously focusing on things I am passionate about, that make a positive difference to people’s lives and creating a culture where each individual and their contribution is valued.
One action included within the ‘Connection’ module was creating a visibility plan – for me this involved being braver, deciding what I wanted to focus on most and identifying how I could best use and create connections and opportunities to achieve my goals.
I reconnected with friends/colleagues from the Probation Service, where after a 17-year career, I had taken a career break and 10 years on had not returned! Plus, I have started to explore a desire to write – I have really enjoyed developing this skill; interviewing WDI clients to share their stories and sharing my own.
One area I have focused on is being a more active listener – enabling conversation and having a deeper understanding of others perspectives rather than starting the conversation by expressing or pushing my own views first.
For me this module resonated mostly with being able to articulate why inclusion matters so that I can communicate that in the everyday. I am educating myself all the time and this includes small steps such as subscribing to Better Allies (a weekly email which shares 5 simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace). The programme showed me that I must be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations, to use my voice, to consciously take action to be an ally – and understanding that being an ally is a verb.
Joining the Yellow Eve community
The next step in my development journey and visibility plan was to join Yellow Eve, an online magazine and community. I attended webinars, workshops, group coaching sessions, networking events and several 1:1 coaching sessions which really helped in pushing me to take even more of the actions I had outlined and committed to as part of WDI’s Women’s Leadership programme.
I would like to acknowledge the coaches that I have had 1:1 sessions with, how much ground was covered, and progress made in such a short space of time. All of them offered a free 1:1 session because of their purpose and interest in supporting women to develop, clearly with a hope that some women will book additional paid sessions with them and also a recognition that it is not financially viable for everyone to do so. Whilst it would not be possible to have further sessions with them all, I have taken positive learning and action and appreciate the support, advice and time each of them have given me – including the follow up accountability emails checking on my progress.
As a Senior Probation Officer I experienced training, mentoring, and informally coached my team but I have never had coaching from a qualified coach. My work involves performance coaching, so I have seen the impact of coaching from client stories – but I had not experienced it myself. What has been fascinating about my experience with Yellow Eve is how each 1:1 session, even with a different person, has built upon the other – almost like building blocks. (Clearly having a series of sessions with the same coach would be optimal).
I will write about all of my 1:1 coaching experiences but for now, I will wrap-up with the session I had with Natasha Chatur.
With Natasha, The Work Happiness Coach, the session focused on my career and I very much appreciated that focus. Through her questioning and prompts, Natasha enabled me to talk easily about current and previous work and I came away with 3 very clear next steps for now.
Natasha offered me some accountability – irrespective of whether I booked any additional session with her – and I really welcomed that – and it has assisted in spurring me on to complete my 3 next steps.
- Around reframing – analysing all aspects of a previous work experience
- Re-connecting with some valued colleagues
- Seeing how I could expand my current roles, what would make them even better – even more fulfilling.
Natasha was an observant listener and really got me to reflect and question things. Key things that I experienced during our session and have taken away with me and used again are:
- Fully considering and viewing particular past situations objectively rather than at an emotional experiential level
- Working with and appreciating all that work offers now and looking at ways to enhance that experience
- Natasha talked about my ability to start a role and make it my own, building it to mould my strengths. I certainly came away from the session with a strong recognition of that and how powerful that is in ensuring you make your career your own.
Within 2 weeks I had completed/started all the 3 actions that I had set. Clearly a sign that future sessions with Natasha would be valuable in discovering, articulating and then taking the next steps needed.
With thanks to Natasha.
In my next article, I will discuss more of my experiences and by showcasing the value I’ve received I hope to motivate more women to take action with their personal development.
Sally Hargrave is a marketing and fundraising project manager.