In 2021, Thirza Loffeld, WildHub's Community Manager established the Conservation Catalyst Programme to meet the need of giving early-career conservationists in our community and beyond a voice. Conservation Catalysts are WildHub community members who catalyse the sharing of ideas, problems and solutions, and lessons learned by teaming up with other conservationists. This year (2022), our programme expanded with twenty participants across fourteen different countries (Botswana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, USA, India, UK, Australia and Canada). Needless to say, Thirza had to get help, so she asked around our Core Community and found six WildHub coaches, @Ross Rowe , @Christine Tansey , @Alan J. Hesse , @Sheherazade , @Carolyn Rosevelt, MSc and Lize Gibson-Hall, to help her on this programme. Together we developed a Conservation Catalyst interview checklist, and shared Coach best practices through our monthly Coach Social.
Mid-year, five WildHub Conservation Coaches came together to brainstorm how they could support their aspiring catalyst even better. Resulting from this was the offer by one of the coaches, Ross, to provide a coaching training, based on his experience and expertise as accredited executive Life Coach. Please find below a summary of their lessons learned post-training.
Introduction by Ross
As coaches of current and aspiring conservation practitioners in WildHub’s Conservation Catalyst Programme, we want to empower participants to get the results, skills, and experience they need.
Through this coaching essentials training, all the WildHub coaches had the opportunity to meet and work together over three weeks.
We learned and strengthened our respective coaching skills so we can grow and better serve aspiring Catalysts. Our coaches are leading by example, building capability through a mindset of growth and continuous learning.
I (Ross) designed this training to clearly set out the theory and principles of professional coaching whilst providing the opportunity for every participant to practice and receive immediate feedback on what was working well for them and things they might do to be more effective.
The course discussed what coaching is and is not, including the difference between coaching, mentoring, advising, teaching and counselling.
- We covered a multitude of questioning and listening skills. A simple framework for coaching conversations, the GROW model, was explained and used in the practice sessions.
- We also explored how our human needs, values and beliefs can all help when coaching. Not just to manage behaviour, but to actually change how we show up in different work and life situations.
- How to engage with and respond to strong emotions was the final part of the course.
- The training drew on my credentialed coach training, over 10 years of experience coaching teams and individuals and my role teaching coaching skills to government officers through the Australian Public Service Academy.
Lessons learned from your Coaches
Which part of the Coaching course resonated with you the most and why?
Alan: “The mentored practice we did during the sessions showed me that there is a lot more to coaching than I expected. I found it very revealing how difficult it was for me to actively listen while also assuming a coaching role to help move my coachee forward to finding options and a way forward in their situation”
Christine: “The course highlighted how important silence can be in enabling coachees the space to work through the issue they wish to address. I feel silence is often undervalued in conversations, at work or in life generally. The course reminded me that resisting the temptation to fill pauses can be incredibly valuable!”
Which unexpected insights did you gain during or after the Coaching training?
Lize: “I realised through the training that I was naturally adopting many of the techniques. The training really allowed me to tap into this and refine my skills allowing me to gain confidence in communicating and helping to coach others.”
Alan: “I found it harder than I thought to assume a coaching role. Before the training I had a vague idea that I had a natural ability to coach others, mostly because I have occupied many training and mentoring roles in my professional life; however the training showed me those past experiences have nothing to do with true coaching”
What notable changes have you observed in yourself, and your work or broader life that you attribute to your participation in these Coaching training sessions?
Lize: “I have been taking a more active step to listen to my friends and partner during discussions rather than immediately offering advice. I have also found been more reflective with coworkers and my coachees in allowing them to come up with ideas and suggestions through facilitating and asking questions”
How have you integrated the skills and abilities you gained as a result of the Coaching Essentials course into your daily life so far?
Christine: “I have found myself coming back to the structure of the GROW model when I’m uncertain about how to tackle a personal or professional issue. In particular, reflecting on what the ultimate goal is, and thinking about how best to get there, has helped me make decisions when faced with a number of options.”
A big thank you to Ross for providing this valuable Coaching Essential course! It was an amazing experience to be able to connect and train alongside peers across our timezones from early morning in Ecuador (Alan) to late evening in Australia (Ross)! I particularly enjoyed our coaching practice sessions during our calls, alongside our ‘homework’ to hone our coaching skills in our daily lives” (Thirza Loffeld, WildHub Community Manager and WildHub Coach).