Head of Sales at Bayer
“I’ve always enjoyed leading and motivating people one-on-one or in small groups, and am fairly comfortable in my abilities as an encouraging and inspiring leader in that context. But as my career has progressed a big challenge for me has been carrying that over into a larger group setting, especially leading or presenting to a room full of people.
The feedback I always got was that although I was clearly passionate, I didn’t really have the confidence and gravitas to go with it, and the ‘spark’ that made me so effective in small groups was getting lost once I got up on stage. So when I began working with Sarah in her role as one of the coaches on the High Potential Leadership Programme, run by Clarity Leadership, this area of personal impact was key.
But what was so interesting for me, and what has genuinely been transformative in my personal and professional life, was the way in which Sarah approached my challenges. Most coaches would have leapt straight into helping me with my presentation technique, and that was really what I was expecting. But Sarah’s focus was on first getting to the root of the problem, rather than just addressing the symptoms. And it didn’t take too much discussion for her to realise that what lay at the heart of things for me was a huge lack of self-belief.
I think some of it was cultural and some of it was more to do with wider business culture and being a woman in that context. I realised that I was having trouble accepting that I really belonged in a senior role. But Sarah was amazing, and she really helped me see that I didn’t need to feel ‘grateful’ about having my job – I worked really hard to get where I am and I earned my position of leadership. I have just as much right to be here as any of my peers.
That was a huge breakthrough for me, and it was really the starting point for all the other work Sarah and I did together. Once I felt more confident and truly believed I was ‘allowed’ to be where I was – in the job, up on stage – then I was in a place to start learning how to become a bolder and more compelling speaker. And here as well Sarah’s coaching really stood apart from others. Her background as an actor was so helpful, and she has some brilliant tips and techniques – but more than that she really connected with who I am and taught me how to be a great speaker in my own way. It was never about making me a carbon copy of a ‘good presenter’, but instead about helping me work on my body language, posture, tone, etc, to bring out my personality and passion and not let nerves block that spark that makes me successful in smaller group settings.
I’m honestly now totally transformed in terms of what I feel capable of – and I’m not the only one to have noticed the change. So many colleagues have been astounded by the difference they’ve seen and have been overwhelmingly positive about how I’ve presented new ideas and led meetings. (In fact, once they found out it was because I worked with Sarah they’ve all been keen to get in touch and work with her too!) I’ve also generally found it so much easier to be in meetings with other senior leaders and simply hold myself differently, speak with more confidence, and be clearer in my own ideas and opinions.
I absolutely can’t say enough positive things about Sarah’s coaching and support. I never once felt like she was just teaching me a standard set of skills – she really listens to you and gets to know you, and has such a lovely and insightful way about her. I felt so cared for and supported, yet she also wasn’t afraid to challenge me and to push me to be the best I could be.
“Ultimately Sarah has made it possible for me to come to work every day and operate at my best at a very high level, feeling confident in my abilities and positive about my contribution. I am so grateful and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to anyone.”