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Jon Kennard


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TrainingZone interviews: AoEC’s Moira Halliday


Recently we interviewed Moira Halliday about her role within the Academy of Executive coaching and the challenges, changes and opportunities within coaching today.
As director of training it must be great to work with coaches who are open to change and improvement, but how do you deal with someone who is resistant to coaching?
You’re right, it is indeed a privilege to work with anyone who is open to change, keen to learn and grow. However, not all coaches who come on our programmes are that open to begin with. Sometimes they are there to fulfill a logistical requirement like the need to become accredited or having been sent by their organisation. As adult learners many of us resist going to that place of uncertainty – a place which is inevitably at least visited during the learning process.
As our programmes emulate the coaching process it is not a surprise that the learner’s experience is not unlike that of a coaching client. Dealing with someone who is resistant to coaching begins with understanding the resistance. The coaching space is also one of potential change, learning and growth so the coachee has to understand and agree to that. It’s one of the reasons negotiating the contract at the outset is paramount.
Tell us about the evolution of the AoEC. What changes have you seen in the coaching business since the AoEC was founded?
The AoEC was established 14 years ago – before my time with the company. Even in my five years I have seen changes. For example, increasingly buyers of coaching services are becoming more sophisticated in that they are looking for accredited coaches who have regular supervision. Many organisations are developing a coaching culture. The ones that succeed train their coaches well. Those less likely to succeed expect their leaders to add coaching to their job descriptions with either no training or a first level, two-day beginner’s programme – better than nothing but not enough.
How do you measure success? How do your clients measure success?
Most of the feedback we receive is verbal – people seem to dislike filling in feedback forms. Like any good training company we take feedback very seriously. My favourite measure of success is the number of our graduates who stay in touch and find ways to be involved with us many years after they completed their training. We also have many graduates who share their success stories with us and proudly display the fact that they trained with us on their websites and social media profiles.
Our students learn the importance of talking with their clients at the beginning of a coaching contract about how the intervention will be evaluated – which measurement tools will the organisation use, how will the coaching intervention sit alongside other development interventions within, for example, talent management and employee engagement processes.
Who do you look up to / who are your coaching heroes?
That’s a great question and leaves me a bit damned if I do and damned if I don’t. As you know the owner of the AoEC is John Leary-Joyce who is a great coach and has contributed enormously to the development of the profession. However, he is not a person who would court hero worship. I guess neither is Nancy Klein who I admire immensely. I have only seen her once in real life and was amazed and inspired by her sheer presence. Coach presence is essential and not easy to teach but I don’t believe in the idea ‘you either have it or you don’t’. Presence can be learned and on our programmes we borrow the idea of ‘signature presence’ from another hero, Mary Beth O’Neill.
What are the most common issues that come up time and again at leadership level?
In a nutshell: dealing with people; relationship issues; how to be the best leader; work life balance and how to get the best out of people.
Moira Halliday is director of training at the AoEC.

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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