Meet the Coach: Will James
What attracted you to become a coach?
I’ve always been passionate about trying to help people thrive. That led me to work in voluntary and charity settings, and then in education. That’s where I stumbled upon coaching and the combination in coaching of using the tools developed by psychotherapy and positive psychology and deploying them to partner with clients to help them to achieve their potential – to reboot and reimagine their ambitions, and develop themselves to make progress towards them.
Where did you train?
Formally I trained first with Bath Spa University whilst I was still teaching; then in counselling skills at the Westminster Pastoral Foundation in London; and then I completed an MA in coaching at Oxford Brookes’ Business School… however so much of my learning – for example in my PGCE, through my ongoing supervision and additional courses or groups that I participate in, continue to teach me so much!
What kind of coaching do you offer?
I offer developmental coaching that is focused on helping leaders and teams bring more of their creativity, commitment and effective collaboration to pursue their compelling purpose.
I am a creative person, and I like being stirred by vision, and the best results I’ve experienced are when the client and I can get excited about the potential of their vision, whatever that might be, and then work out how we can bring all of our collective wisdom, enthusiasm, experience and relationships to achieve something that really matters!
How does leadership coaching work?
My kind of coaching is especially powerful for leaders whose self-leadership and behaviour have the potential to unleash the potential of those around them and the team or organisation.
People with lots of responsibility can carry a lot of stress, have to make a lot of fast-paced decisions that affect others, and can lack competent, confidential thinking partners to help them reflect and stay connected to their values and the bigger picture. Coaching can be transformational to them and the people around them.
Do you ever suggest books or other materials to clients?
Three books that come to me straight off the top of my head are: Mindset by Carol Dweck, Peak by Anders Ericsson, and Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed; some top Ted talks are Brene Brown on shame, Simon Sinek on starting with why, and Daniel Pink on drive.
What do you like about being a coach?
What I LOVE about being a coach is being able to bring all my creativity and learning in service of helping others achieve their potential in a way that (should!) leave them every session feeling more confident in their own abilities and capacities to create change, and feeling more in the driving seat of their own lives and purpose – in a way that can have a positive impact on them, those around them, and even the world!
What is less pleasant?
My biggest frustration with coaching is the lack of consistency within the industry about the purpose and process of coaching. This means that there can be some time consuming work to do aligning expectations for clients that might be looking for someone else to give them all the answers.
What is one life lesson you try to live by?
“Dream bigger, start smaller”
What do you wish people knew about coaching?
That’s it’s such an effective way of reconnecting people with their own power, purpose and potential – that they are actually so much more than they imagine. (It’s ‘Growth Mindset’ again… and the importance of collaborating with other people that are different to you!)
Do you have a favourite client testimonial or success story?
The most recent that comes to mind is work that I’ve done with a leader within an organisation who has had to lean into a very unpractised part of herself – to be unwaveringly determined, firm, uncompromising – about an area of change that she passionately believed in. Over the past year or two there have been times that she felt defeated, but coaching sessions gave her space to keep going back to the fire in her belly that made it worthwhile – the reminder of why the goal was worth the growth.
Celebrating the success and how the impact it has had on her confidence, her enjoyment of work; the change that is has made for her family’s income security and the future wellbeing of her colleagues, is inspirational! She’s done all the hard work, she’s had to grow more and more aligned with her core values and hold her course even when it hurt, but the outcome is wonderful. Experiences like that make me ‘trust the process’ more and more.