“What a joy it was to witness you at work. I learned so much. It’s funny I had such a good feeling when I first met you and it turned out I was right about how impressive your work would be. You stay so completely yourself everyone else becomes their own genuine self in response. The gradual move toward humanhood as a group was amazing.”

Ruby Wax – OBE – Actress, Mental Health Campaigner

“Sharon´s support as a supervisor has been invaluable and she has exceeded my expectations in every way. She offers a wonderful combination of warmth, incisive challenge, honest feedback and affirmation. She encourages me to see a different perspective and notice what’s really going on by taking a step back and focusing entirely on the client in the moment. She helps me to appreciate myself and value my own competence, which I forget to do sometimes and her positive energy is infectious. Sharon enables me to continue my personal journey of discovery as well as to fine tune my coaching skills; she has also taught me the importance of deep empathy and practices it herself in bucket loads! Sharon is fantastic and I can’t recommend her highly enough.”

Catherine Gorham – Coach

“I have engaged atLiberty several times to help develop and implement culture change programmes in a range of different Businesses. They are experts in their field, thought leaders who work closely with the organisation to come up with an approach that suits – they don’t bring things “off the shelf”.

Susan Kinnaird – MD (Europe) Domestic Business at Spirotech

What we do

One-to-one

Coaching is a particular kind of conversation intended to promote learning and to determine a course of action for maximising performance.

You recognise that getting to the top and staying there requires continual development and growth.

You want to become generally more skilled i.e. interpersonal effectiveness, goal-setting, decision-making, exploiting natural talents.

You want someone who is there just for you; a neutral and objective sounding board who will be truthful (as opposed to telling you what you want to hear!).

You know there’s something you need to be able to do better but you are not exactly sure what it is.

You are experiencing dissatisfaction with the status quo for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Things aren’t going right
  • Important relationships are feeling difficult
  • Other people don’t seem to be ‘getting’ it!
  • You can’t get things or people moving in the way you want them to
  • You have some decisions to make and the way forward is not as clear as you would like
  • You want to take some action but don’t feel confident
  • You are not feeling as motivated about work as you would like to be

Coaching works from the assumption that in order to be the best you can be for the business, you need to bring ‘all of you’ to work. Whilst the focus will always be on helping you to reach your professional goals, this may also involve working on the personal issues that impact upon you, the professional person.

Coaching works with the head AND the heart – the whole person. Our experience is that all too often in the corporate world we are discouraged from talking in a way which uses the ‘f’ word – feelings. However, rational thought on its own will not bring sustained behavioural change. You have to find a compelling reason – you have to care – in order to change the way you behave.

Your life today is a result of your past ways of thinking. A great deal of development work these days concentrates on behaviour alone, but sustained behavioural change is only achieved by creating new ways of thinking, new patterns of belief. On average we have about 60,000 thoughts a day… of which 40,000 are repetitive. These thoughts drive our behaviour, behaviour drives action and action leads to the consequences that you see all around you.

Coaching is about improving your performance by reflecting on the thoughts and feelings that create your behaviour. It’s about examining your mental models and the ways you think that often go unnoticed. It’s about moving from simply having assumptions to a preparedness to discover and challenge those assumptions.

This kind of reflection is not a soft option. We often reflect after the event, but reflecting effectively means being able to bring the process of reflection closer to the action, in fact, sooner than the action. If you can change the way you think about something, you can change the behaviour, the actions and the results that spring from it. Whenever things aren’t working for you, that is simply a cue to start working with your thoughts.

We are passionate about creating a safe and supportive environment for personal development in which clients work with us as equals. This does not mean that in working with us you will not be challenged or even confronted on difficult issues. We strive to role-model authenticity in the way we work and in our behaviour. We are committed to getting ‘stuck in’ and providing you with a different perspective.

Coaching works because it is an inherently personal process and it is for that reason we always begin by encouraging both the atLiberty coach and the prospective client to ensure we are a good ‘fit’ for each other. This means having a first meeting at no charge (usually for an hour) to explore our respective credentials and see what kind of rapport we have. Once we’ve agreed to proceed, we will meet again to design a customised programme.

Whilst client contracts do differ, an example of a typical process might look like:

Group coaching

Group Coaching is a process known as Action Learning, a way of talking to promote learning and a course of action to maximize performance.

Group Coaching is a deliberate process known as Action Learning, a way of talking to promote learning and a course of action to maximize performance.

The dynamics resemble those of one-to-one coaching but as well as working with the professional coach the group (usually four to six members) is learning with and from each other. Strong underlying principles of the process are:

  • Learning best from each other
  • Learning when they receive accurate feedback from each other
  • Learning when they are able to reflect and question the assumptions on which their actions are based

You choose Action Learning when you want to generate learning as well as new action. Here the group is charged with learning from problems they are solving; assumptions are challenged and actions are confronted. Learning is not incidental.

Choosing Action Learning as a development option begins with a willingness to learn and look at things from a new perspective.

“If you see what you always see you get what you have always got!”

See my five tips on the Association for Coaching’s website.

You recognise that the ongoing personal and professional development of your managers/leaders is key to business success.

You have responsibility for driving the people agenda of your business and want a development option for managers/leaders that will exploit strengths and build best practice.

You want to develop the capabilities and competencies of managers/leaders across the business, particularly in the context of problem solving and interpersonal effectiveness.

You want to achieve a big step change in driving a culture of continuous improvement.

You want to develop a creative approach for working on ‘real’ operational and strategic problems.

Small groups (Action Learning group) of between four and six peers,* from different parts of the business, meet to work on a regular basis in the presence of a facilitator for a full or half-day.

The ‘make-up’ of the group is important and difference is key. Action Learning works on the premise that the more perspectives there are the better. Seeing things differently is critical for discovering new and better action.

At the first meeting the group will start by agreeing some principles for working well together, usually including confidentiality, commitment and what support and challenge means for them. Each group will develop their own way of working over time.

Every person is then allocated an equal slot of time to work on his/her specific problem. With the help of the group, support, challenge and encouragement are provided for each to take action on problems and to learn from it.

At subsequent meetings everyone begins by reporting back to the group on their results and enlists the support of the group in reflecting on their outcomes.

In helping each other to learn, the members of the group commit to taking action on their problems. Skills are learned in two ways; as the person presenting the problem or as the person participating in helping someone else.

Everyone is helped to explore what they cannot see around them as well as what they imagine they can.

Group members learn to organise their thinking, present their issues in a logical way, and build their confidence required to ask for support and assistance. They also develop new ways of thinking, both in problem solving and creativity.

Group members also become more skilful in their talk, sharpening their development skills and often building a depth of relationship and trust they do not enjoy anywhere else in the business.

Finally, they develop the ability to ask new and insightful questions, the core skill of coaching.

*Different levels of the business can work together but only when every member of the group is able to leave hierarchy at the door (on the way in and out!) 

“Life today is a result of your past but it doesn’t have to be your future.”

“Whenever things aren’t working for you, that is simply a cue to start working with your thoughts.”

“If you see what you always see you get what you have always got!”

Change

Change is a process of asking questions that are intended to look at finding a different way of working.

There is no getting away from it, change is everywhere; it´s our way of life. The world is fast and furious and our business world is characterised by uncertainty, instability and shifting global competition.

Wherever you reside in your business, success will depend on the quality of interactions you have; winning the hearts and minds of others to get across what you want to say. Businesses want individuals to stay highly motivated and go beyond their job role with their discretionary effort.

We want to know how to be “better at leading change”, how to do “employee engagement” and how to achieve a “coaching culture”. These familiar phrases are easy to say but hard to do. atLiberty specialises in delivering the behavioural change that drive these aspirations. Development at this level requires a willingness to consider personal as well as organisational changes. It demands a recognition that leadership is not just in the hands of one person – it´s in the hands of all.

Case Study: See more

You might have undergone substantial changes in business strategy – the way you do business and who you do it with has shifted.

Perhaps:

You want to improve the culture of your organisation so that employee engagement is at the heart.

You want to create/strengthen a shared model of leadership – top down. You recognise that top/senior leadership create and shape the climate of a business; what they do matters. They have to ´walk their talk´ as a prerequisite for inspiring high performance from others.

You have outsourced part of your business and you want to help employees through personal change and transition.

You have merged with another business and want everyone to personally engage with new values and a shared vision for the future.

You recognise that coaching as a style of management/leadership is a key leverage. You recognise that staying ahead of your competitors requires succession planning – growing and retaining talented people, the leaders of tomorrow.

You want to improve the results of your business´s Climate Survey Report.

You have identified the need for areas of the business to ´skill up´ to ensure you keep flexible, innovative, and competitive.

We work in partnership with our clients; combining our skills with yours to make sure the solution is always totally ´fit for purpose´. This often means we offer a blend of self-assessment, coaching and workshops. This enables us to honour different learning styles and be respectful for meeting people at different, ´starting places´ on their development journeys. We believe that learning must be an active learning process; we make sense of things in light of our own experience.

Whilst this means designs for processes and programmes may vary there are some elements that will always define our work.

 

Better at Leading Change
  • Our leadership programmes will be light on theory and heavy on skills practice.
  • We actively role model the defined behaviours we are trying to teach others; seeing it in action makes it very real.
  • Any preparation work, models used and scenarios are created to reflect our client´s realities. We try, wherever possible to use ´live´ data.
  • We believe that learning should be fun so we make space for laughter.
Employee Engagement
  • Employee engagement starts with involvement; recruiting an energised ´change team´ of volunteers from the depth and breadth of your business. We then look to drive a co-creating process.
  • Our programmes will involve the customers (actively including them in workshops).
  • We believe that if you want to gain ´buy in´ to a vision you have to create space and opportunity to have a different kind of conversation; sell not tell. We work with the principles of dialogue circles.
Coaching Culture
  • We work on the principle that less is more. What are the three questions, that if you constantly use them, will help drive up the performance in others?
  • Any programme will have a ´live learning´ element, coaching and receiving feedback from your coachee.
  • To teach the skills of coaching we work with an atLiberty tool called Skill Stones.

Supervision

Supervision is a particular kind of conversation that takes place in regular meetings between a coach and their supervisor. It is intended to help a practicing coach develop their competence by reflecting on their work.

Supervision is a particular kind of conversation that takes place in regular meetings between a coach and their supervisor. It is intended to help a practicing coach develop their competence by reflecting on their work with another experienced coach (supervisor). As a ´learning with´ process, and with the help of the coaching supervisor sharing expertise, the focus is often developmental; helping the coach to develop their coaching capability, grow coaching capacity and support themselves and their practice.

Supervision is part of the agenda for good practice of business coaches and is increasingly being seen as an essential part of continuous professional development. For purchasers of coaching and those coaches wishing to receive accreditation from one of the professional coaching bodies such as the ICF, the Association for Coaching (AFC) The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), supervision is becoming part of the assessment criteria.

atLiberty has a clearly expressed policy that all our coaches must be under regular supervision.

Having the opportunity to reflect on your work, whether it be exploring a specific tricky client situation or working more broadly to take a closer look at ways to improve yourself and your coaching, will help both you and the clients you work with.

atLiberty is committed to maintaining good practice and works in alignment with The Association for Coaching Code of Ethics and Good Practice and Core Competency Framework.

As with all of our coaching work, we are passionate about creating a safe and supportive environment for supervision, in which we work with our clients as equals. We know this dynamic produces ongoing mutual respect and trust where you can work in depth to explore the heart of your coaching practice.

This does not mean you will not be challenged. Our challenge comes from a place of ´pitching for you´ to be the best you can be. This often involves helping you to see the world from different viewpoints, encouraging you to step back and see the often complex dynamics at work around you.

As with coaching, it is key to ensure that there is a good ‘fit’ from the start, between the supervisor and prospective client. This means having an intake session, at no charge, (usually around thirty minutes) and ideally carried out on the telephone, in advance of the first “proper coaching supervision session”.

Here we can explore respective credentials, get to know each other, understand aspirations and design the alliance accordingly.

Once we have agreed to proceed we can design a customised programme, how (face to face or by phone) and when you want it (regular sessions or more flexible/ad hoc). Whilst client contracts do differ our experience tells us that supervision does need to happen regularly. Where there is a gap of more than six weeks it makes it hard to sustain continuity.