The wrong shoes … A personal ‘coaching’ story

It was 8 o’clock on a cold dark grey morning as I arrived at my child minder’s home in order to deposit my precious daughter into her care for the next 10 hours. We had followed the same routine as every morning since my return to work. We had a routine, I had to be well organized and that included having a clear delineation between work, school and leisure clothes and of course footwear. You might imagine my shock therefore as I stood on the doorstep to look down and find that I was wearing one blue shoe and one black shoe. (They were exactly the same style, I would add in my defence!).

Of course I had to return home to swap the errant shoe, but I remember now that sense of pressure because 15 minutes was likely to make the difference between arriving at a 9 o’clock meeting in a calm and prepared fashion and launching myself through the door looking flustered and feeling already exhausted.

This brings to mind another story involving being asked by my darling daughter to suddenly produce, out of thin air, a Roman warriors outfit, when we were due to leave the house in less than half an hour, but let’s not go there!

I know now that at the time I was putting myself under tremendous pressure, I wanted to be the perfect mother, wife, daughter, housekeeper and friend alongside pursuing my career and proving to myself and others that I had the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to do well both for me and for the organisation that employed me.

So why am I sharing this with you? It is because it was around this time that I recognized the need for me to get some support to help balance the various aspects of my life, establish coping mechanisms and finally recognize what ‘potential’ meant in my life and how I was going to achieve it.

Coaching was in its infancy, it was becoming established but there were no Professional Development Coaches, available to me. We tended to rely on our managers, some of whom were excellent and some who, although they meant well, were less so. It was for this reason that I set out on a personal and professional development journey to learn how I could more effectively manage all areas of my life. Five years of therapeutic training was followed by many years of building and practicing coaching techniques as part of managing people, projects and programs.

Throughout my training and the years that followed I was supported by many people who acted as coaches to me; I found joy in what I did and established parameters about how I would balance my work and home life. I identified the areas that worked for me and either changed or stopped others while, most importantly, receiving support and guidance throughout the change periods.

My journey continues as I learn and incorporate new skills and techniques into my coaching, mentoring and consulting tool-kit. I have enjoyed veering off from the norm into areas such as storytelling and poetry, as well as playing a significant role in improving the professionalism of coaching. I continue to grow as a person and make informed choices about how I want to ’be’ in this world. This is what ‘coaching’ has done for me … I wonder if it could do something similar for you?

(Oh and by the way – both shoes now match – and so the metaphor continues).

Susanna Way is a partner in Coaching Insurance Professionals an alliance of coaches who have extensive experience of working in the Financial Services world, which means they speak your language and understand your challenges.

Balancing the role of manager and leader


All of the words associated with Coaching Insurance Professionals

We are all about Coaching Insurance Professionals

So, you are a manager with responsibility not only for getting your workload completed but you also have a team to consider. You are probably thinking they are big enough and clever enough to get on with their job without much bother from you.

An interesting concept but it doesn’t quite work that way. When you have been given the title (and salary) of Manager or Team Leader all of a sudden you have responsibility and accountability for those who report to you.

Thinking about your typical day at work, how much time do you spend on task-focused activities? 70%? 80%? For some it can be as much as 90%. So, if you are spending 90% of your time and energy on task focused activities then guess who suffers? Yes, your team. I have no doubt also that you are taking on too much work and not considering who else in your team can help you deliver what needs to be done.

The Action Centred Leadership model, devised by John Adair back in 1973 has become a classic. He spotted three main areas that leaders have to manage – each are as important as the other and this model provides a simple guide to the 3 important aspects when managing and leading;

  • Getting the job done,
  • Keeping the team effective
  • Supporting the individuals in the team

The overlapping circles in the figure below offer a useful way of looking at the need to manage all three aspects and how each cannot stand-alone. The high-performing manager develops effective team spirit; sets good measurable targets and is committed to getting the best out of every individual. A useful metaphor to use is of spinning plates. As the manager you need to keep all three plates spinning. If you can achieve this, you will have a successful act. If you pay too much attention to any one plate then the others might fall.

It is amazing how many managers just focus on the ‘Achieving Task’ plate and then wonder why the other two come crashing down and the task ultimately fails.

Gaining the right balance between these three elements is the secret to good management and leadership. The skilful manager is able to adjust the emphasis given to each element to meet the needs of a given situation or to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Having a dedicated coach to help you understand where you are focusing your time and efforts and helping you to balance your role as a manager can make the difference between success and failure. Contact us at and book a session with us now.

Reference: Effective Leadership: Chris Roebuck, www. John

Sue Noble

April 2016







What difference does having confidence in ourselves make?

In my experience coaching confidence, or the lack of it, is probably the most common element in developing aspiring people. Lack of confidence seems to be more prevalent in women, often resulting in them being less likely to go for certain jobs because they feel they do not have all of the capabilities shown in the advertisement. This is in direct contrast to many men who will ‘go for it anyway’. In saying that, many people from both sexes lack confidence and it can be difficult to open up and talk to your boss, especially if you want your boss to see you in the best possible light.

All of the words associated with Coaching Insurance Professionals

We are all about Coaching Insurance Professionals

Having a chance to talk about confidence issues to a coach can therefore make a big difference especially if they haven’t felt able to talk about this to anybody else before.

I often use a petrol tank analogy saying that we have to keep topping up the ‘confidence fuel tank’. Many people don’t! They push away compliments instead of thanking people and simply letting the compliment seep into to their confidence tank. Without a coach many people don’t realise what they are doing.

Through using Prism Profiling ( ) with people who work in the Insurance sector, I have noticed a trend (perhaps not surprisingly) that many of them fall into the Gold area which implies they are very good evaluators and experts in their own right. They like to be right and therefore tend to remember times when they weren’t right and can often find such criticism as identity attacks and build up a fear of rejection. At this point they may well allow such feelings to impact their ‘confidence fuel tanks’ and ultimately this can erode their internal levels of confidence.

So what can coaching do to help increase peoples levels of confidence? Coaching invites and nurtures self-awareness so that people can start to understand and recognise their patterns of behaviour. Once someone has this level of self-awareness they can then choose to do something about it. Choice is key.

As my coaching programmes normally last 6 months we can keep assessing how well coachees are doing with their change in behaviour and the impact this is having on their confidence.

I might suggest coachees read the excellent book “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by the late Susan Jeffers. Link to Amazon, to buy Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Every coaching session is different and tailored to the coachee and it really helps people achieve what they want. Without confidence people have a mountain to climb and often don’t attempt to go for what they really want. With coaching and confidence they can climb that mountain.


Neil Williams

March 2016


Coaching and Mentoring for Insurance Businesses

What is the difference between mentoring and coaching?

Many words have been written in answer to this question, and it is highly likely that there are different definitions out there, but for the sake of clarity and expediency, here is how we see it:

  • Mentoring: the sponsorship of an individual and offer of professional experience and /or privileged information and possibly introductions to help individuals. The coaches on this website have the knowledge and experience of the insurance industry so you should be able to choose one of the three coaches to suit your needs whether it be IT, sales or future development of employees.
  • Coaching: a powerful way to help key people develop capabilities and self-awareness to achieve what you want. It facilitates the insight you need to improve your business results by reaching your own goals. Coachees learn how to contribute by making best use of personal strengths and preventing limitations from becoming pitfalls. The skills and insight we develop add value to your business in many ways. Coaches don’t need to understand your business BUT we do!

CIP’s style is definitely coaching as normally we will ask challenging questions of you and you will supply the answers out of your own resources. If you do get stuck CIP has the insurance background in areas such as underwriting and broking to supply you with options – but we will never tell you what to do

Why could coaching be part of the solution? Coaching is an ideal tool to deal with the effects significant change brings, but people rarely realise the potential benefits that having a coach can give. This may be because they’ve never worked with a professional coach who is supportive to their needs. Many people simply don’t understand what coaching is.

For the business owner coaching is a safe place to be where you can explore issues in a totally private and confidential way and use CIP as a sounding board to find options you may have never used before. It is always useful to have met and built rapport but in many cases coaching can be completed totally on the telephone or over a medium such as Skype, in a time and cost effective way. As long as you want coaching and to move forward coaching does get results.

So if you have issues which keep bothering you and you do not have anybody to bounce things off or you are searching for a clear strategy going forward to achieve what you want why not check out the Profiles of Neil, Sue or Susanna.