A tailor-made approach
When I was younger my mother would bring me along on her regular visits to our local tailor in Rome, Mr. Salerno. He had a sterling professional reputation and was known for his friendliness and warmth.
Our visits always began with passionate conversations about the latest fashion trends, even before he reached for the measuring tape. Every question he asked my mother was geared towards understanding her personality, lifestyle and taste, including her opinions on certain styles, fits and fabrics. My mother was always amazed by what Mr. Salerno was able to recall later in the process, and how seamlessly he could weave her sense of style into every dress. Between his expertise and ideas, and her constant feedback, each piece was truly a work of creative collaboration. Perhaps more than anything else that kept my mother coming back to Mr. Salerno, was this feeling of mutual ownership.
Over the years, I realised that Mr. Salerno’s approach was about building an intimate rapport with clients and collaborating with them creatively. Yes, his talent and skills were top notch, but he was more than just an expert craftsman. He succeeded because he was a master of client service.
LEADING WITH COACHING
Like a good tailor, my goal is to provide my clients with the perfect fit for them and their organisations – one that expresses who they authentically are as leaders while meeting their organisational needs.
To me, leadership means taking responsibility for our world. Everyone is a leader. My clients are smart, successful individuals who own businesses, who lead or aspire to lead within their organisations, community and team. They are at a crossroads and seek guidance to redefine their vision and make substantial changes in their life. They seek to gain strength and effectiveness to live and lead with purpose.
The premise of coaching is that people are innately creative, resourceful and whole, and there is nothing that needs to be fixed. Initially, as a coach, I see myself as a researcher and a facilitator whose role is to help my clients rediscover what is really meaningful to them; what makes them come alive; what they have lost on the way and what they are yearning to achieve in this world. We look inside, digging for what is most valuable: principles, aspirations, purpose, and the legacy they intend to leave behind.
This intimate ground is the foundation for a profound partnership and starting here allows us to establish a stronger sense of participation and ownership of the process. By focusing on the coaching relationship at the beginning, I'm able to glean important insights about where they are, and where they want to be in all dimensions of their life, personal and professional. More importantly, it gives me the opportunity to discover what hasn't been figured out yet, whether it’s fear, or self-limiting and sabotaging beliefs. I use intuition and empathy, as well as positive psychology, brand strategy and design thinking techniques to help them see and think differently. Like Mr. Salerno, I personalise my approach to each of them, honoring their unique wisdom, creativity and vision for themselves.
We also look for unresolved emotions as they are poisonous and paralyzing. Yet once resolved, they are powerful, providing a new perspective and a stronger sense of direction.
Once blind spots are identified, collaboration truly begins, as I help my clients shift their mindsets and make life-affirming choices; learn by doing and not just by thinking. Neuroscience has proven that it's only by doing, by experiencing, that our brains learns and makes sense of reality. It's what we call ‘forwarding the action; deepening the learning’.
‘Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.’
– Carl Jung
EXCELLING WITH CONSULTING: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE COLLECTIVE
The difference between coaching and consulting is that the former is a non-directive process – I don't tell my clients what to do, but rather engage them in a highly collaborative partnership. As a strategic consultant, I provide direction and expertise to drive transformation of their brand, organisation and culture. Starting with a closely integrated partnership as their coach is fundamental to how I then work as a consultant, and yet coaching is not just the beginning but continues to be the soundtrack of the consulting work.
As leaders, our impact – both personally and professionally – is directly consequential to the degree to which our doing is coherent with our being. Therefore I make sure that coherence is sustained throughout the consulting while working within their organisation. In fact the work done at an individual level in coaching is the North Star for the consulting. I alternate wearing two different hats; the coach hat strengthens my alliance with my clients, assuring that the changes we make stay truthful to their vision; while wearing my consultant hat I direct, advise and implement the best strategies to bring about desired outcomes at a collective level. It's a creative collaboration that requires us to dance in the moment.
The key, though, is to strike a balance between coaching and consulting: honoring my clients' input as the expert of their world, while guiding them with clarity, conviction and creative intuition so that I can tailor solutions for their brand and organisation that go far beyond their expectations.
A bespoke outfit doesn’t only fit perfectly – when you wear it you feel like a true and better version of yourself; you feel empowered. But here’s the thing: the process only works if you and the tailor truly co-create. Just like the most transformative coaching and consulting, it’s the quality of creative partnership that defies expectations and builds long lasting relationships.
‘If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.’
– African proverb