Nature and nurture – Dale Chihuly, Reflections on Nature, Kew Gardens, London, UK, 2019.
My work is as full of learning from others as it is of sharing my own experience and expertise. This rich combination ensures that I am fully connected with the challenges business leaders are facing and am able to adapt and draw on the latest insights from reputable science and research on human-centred leadership. I strive to be skilful as a coach, working with my clients to navigate their inner and outer worlds, enabling them to become more resourceful in the face of the many challenges intrinsic to leading.
My speciality is impactful, agile and forward-looking leadership, the practical how of building new skills and capacities for leadership with a human edge. It is a joy to partner with executives and top teams across multiple sectors and geographies along with entrepreneurs, senior scientific leaders and partners of professional services firms.
Where appropriate I draw on a rich, multinational, multi-cultural and multi-faceted network of coaching and development practitioners who share my beliefs and values and with whom I develop bespoke collaborative approaches.
I’m at home with major transformations and organisational change, drawing from my senior leadership roles in cross-border acquisition integrations, corporate portfolio restructurings, and changes through crises and disruptive technologies.
I have worked in scientific organisations and carried that forward by ensuring my work in executive development is evidence-based. I am a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching affiliated with Harvard Medical School, established to further research for coaching in leadership and healthcare. I’ve worked in and with a number of pioneering leadership programmes, and coached in a Harvard Business School programme.
Before moving into business, I was a classical performing artist. As a ballet soloist I performed internationally and learned much about resilience, agility, and sustained high performance. This served me in future years as I moved into senior corporate executive roles in multiple countries, and then developed my own coaching practice in 2007.
I am now fortunate to be in my third career with a thriving practice and business in Executive Development and, coming full circle, in the voluntary role as Chair of Dancers’ Career Development (DCD).
Passion has always been at the heart of my career paths. What I do now is central to my purpose to be the catalyst for humanity and high performance. It is a fitting evolution in my own journey so far.
People often wonder how much of a person is nature and how much is nurture. Current belief is that it is a blend of both and that has been my experience. The communities I belong to are very important, and I am blessed to have the grit, passion and moral compass of my family who come from the west coast of Ireland where the landscapes are astoundingly beautiful, and it rains sideways.
“I realise more and more that relationships – and working with my clients – is like a dance, at times taking perspective from the balcony and at times interacting on the dance floor. I draw on my gifts and experience, learning and growing as much as my clients.”
Dr Carol Kauffman, Founder and Director, Institute of Coaching, Harvard Affiliate
English mother-tongue; conversational French and German; basic Dutch.
I am deeply committed to CPD and have been influenced by the work of many great practitioners and teachers. These include Dr Carol Kauffman, my coaching supervisor (founder of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard); Professor Emeritus Robert Kegan; Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn; Daniel Siegel; Dr Daniel Goleman; Dr Peter Senge; Drs Janet and James Prochaska; Professor Amy Edmondson; Dr Susan David; Susan Cain, and many other wonderful men and women who are making a difference in the world.
Continuing Professional Development work that I integrate into my practice includes Adult Development Theory (Kegan & Lahey); Immunity to Change (Kegan & Lahey); Psychological Stages of Change (Prochaska); Habit Formation and Change (Duhigg, Clear); Psychological Safety (Edmondson); Neuroscience as it applies to leadership, performance and to change and growth (various); work by Daniel Siegel including Mindsight; Positive psychology (various); Daniel Goleman’s work (Focus; EQ and the Brain); Authentic Leadership (George, Craig); Fierce Compassion (Dr Kristen Neff); Systemic Interventions (Schwartz, Hellinger, Ward).
Contemporary artist Dale Chihuly inspires me through his art and his stated willingness to “experiment and be unafraid of failure”. It is a fascinating metaphor for what I see and experience in my work with leaders. Deliberate change implies a strategic intent, a business imperative and a desired end goal – all concrete and rationally explicable –like Chihuly’s magnificent pieces of glass art. Yet for the change to be successful it also relies on many less explainable dimensions. Human nature, organisational culture, mindsets and behaviours, and external forces all have a part to play – like the natural environments that so often form the backdrop for Chihuly’s work.