Lessons from a global coaching and mentoring conference

All three All Things IC Consultants regularly mentor communicators from across the globe.

Dan is also working towards an ILM qualification in coaching and mentoring. He attended the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) Global Conference 2023 in Prague on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 June and has shared some of his takeaways for internal communicators.

Lessons from a global coaching and mentoring conference by All Things IC Communication Consultant, Dan Holden

Attending the EMCC Global Conference 2023 ticked several first-time boxes for me. First time visiting the Czech Republic, my first in-person event since joining the EMCC and my first mentoring and coaching conference. It was also a welcome opportunity to speak with mentors and coaches from across the globe including Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and Japan.

Regular readers of the All Things IC blog might have seen that I’m working towards an ILM qualification in coaching and mentoring, which I’m enjoying. I’ve already started applying the skills I’m learning to my work at All Things IC, but that’s another blog article!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the conference, but I found a lot of overlap between internal communication and coaching. At first, I was surprised, but on reflection, it seems to make sense. After all, both internal comms and coaching have a clear focus, helping the audience, whether it’s a wider colleague group when it comes to communication or an individual client or team when it comes to coaching.

Going back over my notes (I always have an All Things IC notebook handy) here are some of my takeaways. Do post your thoughts at the end in the comments box.

Top themes for the year ahead

Jay Connolly, Chief People Officer at Baker McKenzie shared his thoughts on the top themes that coaches and mentors might notice. I don’t know about you, but these could easily be the top five themes for internal communicators to focus on this year.

Photo of Jay Connolly, Chief People Officer at Baker McKenzie sharing his top themes for the year ahead: Trust, visibility, experimentation and measurement

Photo of Jay Connolly presenting his top themes for the year ahead.

I regularly hear all of these themes from clients and comms peers. Helping colleagues have greater trust in the leadership team, improving the visibility of leaders, experimenting with new approaches to communication and demonstrating the impact of their work through effective measurement. I wonder how many of you are nodding along as you’re reading this.

Jay also spoke about external factors affecting people at work including rapid changes, the geopolitical landscape, artificial intelligence, engaging people and personalisation. I think it’s fair to say all of these are also factors that impact internal communication, so through coaching and mentoring it’s about helping to unlock the potential of ourselves as communicators to discover what we’re capable of achieving in these areas.

The strength of a team

Rachael Hanley-Browne, Executive & Systemic Team Coach and Executive Development Consultant and Maxine Gooding, Team Coach and Organisational Dynamics Expert ran an insightful session on Team Coaching for Organisational Development – The Edge of Diversity and Inclusion. They shared their experiences and case studies of how bringing together the potential of individuals (brilliance) and organisational development can create team success.

They shared a reflection that stuck with me throughout the session

‘The team stays in place but the players will change’

This is true in many situations, whether it’s your Senior Leadership Team or your own team, no matter the changes happening within an organisation, developing teams will help give that stability throughout the change.

I recall a recent conversation with a Head of Communications who was introducing a new communication strategy. Rather than focusing on the CEO (likely to leave soon) they are instead focusing on developing the Senior Leadership Team to be effective communicators as a collective team. That way, when a change of leader happens it will help the transition as colleagues will be used to hearing from a team, rather than just the person at the top.

An activity called ‘reframing’ came to mind during this session. This is when you change the context surrounding the challenge, helping you see new approaches to overcome it that you might not have otherwise. This is sometimes helpful in coaching sessions but can also be a useful exercise for a team to try, especially if there are differing views about a particular issue.

Get to know your saboteurs

During a session on mental fitness with Andrea Rath, Mental Fitness Coach, I had the opportunity to explore how understanding my saboteurs, those things that hold us back, can be turned into positive thinking (sage powers). Learning about how to recognise the signs of my saboteurs impacting my thinking or knowing the triggers that will cause them to come out was a useful way of knowing what I can do to move from negative to positive thinking in a situation.

As communicators, I believe we can learn a lot about managing those tricky conversations and stakeholders who can impact how we feel at work. Andrea mentioned that ‘you can’t get rid of your saboteurs but you can learn how to react faster and control them’. My top saboteur is Avoider (which didn’t surprise me as I don’t enjoy any form of conflict) but knowing this means I can spot those situations where I need to mentally prepare earlier to approach conflict situations.

Shirzad Chamine created the concept of Positive Intelligence, and you can take your own Saboteur assessment for free on his website.

I could have tripled the length of this blog article, but I hope the above takeaways give you some insights into the benefits of coaching and mentoring for communicators.


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Post author: Dan Holden

First published on the All Things IC blog 12 June 2023.

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