My Coaching Journey
I almost missed out on what I consider today to be one of the most transformational learning opportunities in my career. I received an email from Strathmore University Business School inviting me to sign up for a coaching class fully sponsored by Financial Services Deepening Africa/DFID in a bid to build capacity in coaching within the East African region for enhanced human capital development. Noting that I was considering another training opportunity at the time, I disregarded this email, until it was almost too late to respond. It took an alumnus of the school, on the long mailing list to ask whether I had signed up and the rest is now what we call history. Uganda was represented by four people, three of whom were gentlemen in varied professions.
Heading into the first coaching class, I had always believed that I was coaching colleagues and proteges, and I must say I used to use the words coaching and mentoring interchangeably, so it was a bit of surprise to find that one of the first learning points was to define and differentiate between the two as well as counselling. I quickly learned that each had its place and role in the development of people and that the International Coaching Federation, to which I aspired to be accredited, required me to walk the journey of professionally arriving at being a Coach rather than simply self-proclaiming it.
Training to be a coach is one of the most practical classes that I have ever attended, because by its nature coaching is a very practical matter. After each session, we took time to practice what we studied by role playing and then coaching each other, at first for 10 minutes, which, with time, progressively grew to an hour as we got to appreciate the principles more and more. After almost two decades in leadership positions, I was learning quite a lot about myself, specifically the blind spots that I had not been very open to accepting before.
Coaching has proven to be a gift that keeps giving. The more I avail myself to listen to ambitions, challenges and goals that people are faced with, the more I get to appreciate a bit more where I am and that my own personal struggles can be conquered, if I continue to desire to improve. This is attributed to powerful tools of; open-ended questions, use of metaphors, and focusing people on their own resourcefulness. All this has taught me to gradually transition from use of closed ended questions to open ended ones, which can provoke thought, invite creativity and new possibilities to encourage the coached party to reflect and elaborate, hence crafting their own solution for better ownership.
This profession has introduced me to a whole new set of professionals, leaders. I am privileged to call colleagues, who in turn, have introduced me to a new network and aspects of life that I was a bit removed from, like Civil Societal work.
I was generously invited and sponsored fully into this noble profession, which obligates me to give back, primarily because I contracted to do so, but also because it is simply the right thing to do. Therefore, I especially focus my pro bono hours of coaching on young women in leadership, so that they get an opportunity much earlier in their careers to become more self-aware and avoid some of the blunders I made out of ignorance or by ignoring my blind spots.
Another way to give back came soon after training, when the teams representing the four different East African Countries made resolutions on how they would best proceed on coaching in each of their respective countries. The Ugandan team was able to convene, initially at my office and saw it wise to invite some people we had heard about in this space to brainstorm on how we could impact the professionalization of coaching in Uganda. We identified a lady, Joan Mugenzi who was already a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), attached to the Kenya Chapter, as our first President and a gentleman, Joseph Ajal, our current President, with whom we went ahead to formalize the incorporation and registration of the International Coaching Federation Chapter Uganda, to which I am proud to have been the first Secretary.
What was a group of four people, has since invited and brought together more than 60 members hence moving from simply being a Chapter to a Charter Chapter
The profession is quite relevant in my day-to-day work, dealings as a daughter, parent and sibling, deliberations as a Board member and negotiations as an entrepreneur, as more of my blind spots are unraveled, it improves me as a human being with a keener sense of improving self. I remain truly indebted.
By Josephine Nakkomo Mukumbya, Associate Certified Coach
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