Here are some answers to questions that sometimes come up when I am working with clients or answering email and website queries. If you have a question not answered here please send it to me via the CONTACT page.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a partnership of equals underpinned by a belief that the client is resourceful, able and best placed to deal with the challenges they face. It non-directive; the client sets the goals and agenda and is helped to find their solutions. They are responsible for taking actions and effecting change.

John Whitmore, a pre-eminent thinker in leadership and organisational change, defines coaching: "as unlocking a person's potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them." (Whitmore 2002)

It differs from mentoring, where the more experienced mentor advises on career and professional development and provides access to opportunities that help the mentee prepare for future roles.

It is also different from counselling, which focuses mainly on personal problems and issues that are causing difficulties. It seeks to identify, understand and heal unresolved psychological issues of the past.

What are the benefits of coaching?

There are many reported benefits of coaching including:

  • Increased self-awareness and reduces blind spots
  • Improved ability to set smarter goal-setting and deliver results
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Expanded thinking, resourcefulness and creativity through dialogue with a curious outsider
  • Accelerated development of skills and competencies
  • Improved ability to implement change
  • Reduced stress and improved work/life balance
  • Increased productivity, job satisfaction & quality of work
  • Accelerated career progression

How does a coaching session work?

You decide the issue(s) that you want to work on and set the agenda. I work with you in a structured, yet flexible, way to help you to define the outcome you want to achieve. Then, through skillful questioning we will explore the issue; begin to address the barriers to success; and agree what actions you intend to take as a result of the session. There is a range of ways of working together to do this. See the resources section of the website for more information.

How long does coaching last?

Typically, I work with people over a period of 4-6 sessions at 6-weekly intervals, but it can be longer or shorter, depending on the needs identified.

How do I know a coach is properly qualified?

There is currently no officially recognised professional body overseeing the coaching profession. There are a number of organisations that accredit or offer qualifications to coaches, including the Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development, the Association for Coaching, the International Coach Federation and European Mentoring and Coaching Council. Ask your coach when and with whom they trained and qualified. Also check if they are in coaching supervision, which is best practice.

How much can my organisation expect to pay?

The current rate for an Executive Coaching session varies between £350 (for public sector) and £450 (for private sector clients) who are local (to Sheffield). This is for a two-hour session, excluding VAT and travel expenses. It includes preparation and related follow-up materials or articles. If you live further afield, we can discuss a suitable rate.

How do I find out more about coaching?

If you want to meet to discuss whether you would like to have some coaching with me, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07796 694317 or 0114 281 6953. There is also more information in the resources section of the website.

For more general information, the Association for Coaching has some excellent resources about all aspects of http://www.associationforcoaching.com. The CIPD has a comprehensive guide to Coaching and Buying Coaching Services and a good fact sheet on coaching: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/ .

How do I find a coach?

The Internet is one source of information, but it is better if you can go to someone who can recommend a coach. Ask your HR department, who may have a register of approved coaches, or ask colleagues and friends.

Why women's leadership?

The situation for women has changed dramatically since the early days of sex discrimination legislation, but figures in a final report from the then EOC( Sex & Power: who runs Britain? 2005) on this issue indicates that women still face special challenges as they move up the corporate ladder and it clearly sets out the organisational and cultural barriers. The 'glass ceiling' on women's career aspirations may have risen, but it is still firmly in place at the most senior levels of the majority of our public and commercial organisations and its counterpart, the 'glass cliff' (a term that describes the riskier types of career opportunities typically offered to women), is also prevalent. The business case for diversity may be strong but, by and large, women are still missing from top leadership roles.

Surely women-only programmes are discriminatory?

There is a case for women-only leadership development but it is wise to expect a range of reactions to any such initiative and to spend some time creating readiness for it. Some people believe that such development is a form of positive discrimination and therefore at odds with current legislation. However positive action, of which single gender development is an example, is legitimate in sectors and/or roles where women are under- represented.

How does the women's leadership work differ from work with mixed groups?

Many of the areas, tools and methodologies we use in our women's development programmes are not dissimilar to those we might use with men and in mixed groups but the emphasis is different. For example, we tend to spend more time focused on the issues that are crucial for women: exploring styles of leadership that are both effective and with which women can identify, on confidence-building, personal impact, influencing, political astuteness, assertiveness, positive self-promotion and work-life balance.

Is it unhelpful to single women out in this way?

There is a risk that women are seen as a special case that needs special treatment, but there are real benefits to working on these issues from a woman's perspective and in a women-only setting. It has proven to be an effective way of empowering women. The recognition that other women face similar concerns and common issues is an important source of support, especially for those working in male-dominated organisations, and motivates them to address their self-limiting beliefs and behaviours.

Women regularly disclose that it is because they are part of a group of other women facing similar challenges that they are able to work so effectively on them. They say that they would be unlikely to do this at all, or with the same degree of success in a mixed setting.

What support can their organisations give to women-only programmes?

It is vital for the organisation to position women-only development skilfully. As with any change initiative, it will be important to have senior role models, sponsors and champions who can make the business case for this kind of development, give encouragement and lead by example.