A #SHRM18 Interview: 5 Questions with Sarah Noll Wilson

I am really looking forward to this year’s SHRM National Conference in June. It has been five years since the conference was in Chicago and that was the last time I attended. I am fortunate to be a part of the #SHRM18Bloggers like I was in 2013. One of the cool roles as a part of the blog squad is to feature one of the speakers for SHRM18.

I had the pleasure to get to know Sarah Noll Wilson. She will be one of the featured Mega Session speakers and I was immediately drawn to her session on building a coaching culture. I’m interested in the executive coaching profession and am currently pursuing my CTI certification.

I asked Sarah five questions about her and I’m happy to share them with you.

1. Tell us a little bit about you. What brought you to where you are today?

I am on a few missions in life, the first is to help rid the world of shitty managers (jk) but I am passionate about helping people discover and develop their true leadership skills, and to help leaders see the true impact they are making. The second mission is to help people claim their greatness. I believe we are all capable of greatness even if at first we don’t believe it or see it.

My path started as a theatre major in college and led me to the world of insurance where I discovered a love for leadership and development. From there, I received my Masters in Leadership Development, led the organizational development efforts for a company for nearly six years, and then embarked on my own leadership coaching and consulting company. One word that I would use to describe my style is Plurpose – Play with Purpose. I like to do the serious work of development in a way that is meaningfully fun.

2. What is coaching? Isn’t this just managing people?

Coaching is a term that is often used in a variety of settings with a variety of meanings. I see the definition of coaching as: the intentional way of showing up in conversation where you listen deeply and ask questions to help the other person increase awareness, explore possibilities, and inspire action. Coaching isn’t about what I know, but what I can help the other person discover.  Coaching isn’t about telling, but co-creating something new.

Is coaching managing people? No, but coaching can be, and should be used when managing people. A trap I see people fall into is thinking that coaching is telling or giving answers. We fall into this trap because the reality is our brains are addicted to being right. We like our ideas, we like to problem solve, and our ego loves having the answers. Coaching challenges some of these core biological habits and shifts our focus away from ourselves and what we know and shifts our focus onto the person we are having the conversation with to find out what they know or need to explore.

3. There are numerous coaching affiliations, ICF, CTI to name a couple. What’s the difference?

Coaching is still a relatively new behavior transformation approach with most certifying bodies being around for less than 30 years. In the grand scheme of management research, this is quite young. At this time there isn’t a regulatory body for Coaching which means anyone can call themselves a coach (doesn’t mean they are).

Here is what you should know about the coaching profession:

The certifying association for coaches is called the International Coaching Federation. Similar to SHRM’s certification, the ICF has strict ethical guidelines and rigorous standards for their different levels of coaching certification. In order to become an ICF Certified Coach you need to complete training through one of their approved training centers.

CTI or the Coaches Training Institute is one of those approved training centers. CTI is also the oldest training center for coaches, training over 55,000 coaches in the past 25 years. As a certified CTI coach myself, I can share that you will complete 104 hours of in classroom training over six months (or longer) along with another six months of additional 200-300 hours of training and practice as a coach. Speaking from my experience only, it was transformative personally and professionally. There are many other great training schools, find the one that works best for you!

4. Can you give us a little insight into your session? What can we expect to learn from attending?

My session is focused on how we as HR professionals can create a coaching culture. Research and my own experience shows that when companies adopt a coaching culture they are more likely to increase the self efficacy of team members, increase their vigor for work, and develop high trusting relationships. The latest neuroscience research on trust shows that when we fall into conversations that are mostly tell/sell/yell we are less likely to have high trust compared to those conversations where there is more sharing and discovering happening. This is a session that was delivered twice last year to a standing room only audience and I am so excited to be invited back as a MEGA session.

You will leave with a deeper understanding of what coaching is, why it is critical to organizations, and how you can begin to build a coaching culture. You will also experience a powerful exercise that you can take back to use with your teams. I’m also creating a special coaching ebook unique to this audience that will provide specific questions and approaches for common HR situations.  Finally, we are going to have a lot of fun.

5. What is one thing you are looking forward to doing/seeing while in Chicago?

I am so excited to reconnect with some of my HR Tribe team members and to meet new people. I’m also really excited to learn from some of the phenomenal speakers like Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg. If I can sneak in some late night Chicago improvisation while I am there, even better!

I am really looking forward to Sarah’s Mega Session and here is the link. To learn more about Sarah, take a look at her video series she has been rolling out to manager on quick tips related to all things development. This is a fantastic series! If you are looking at a dynamic session while attending the conference, be sure to check out Sarah’s Mega Session. You won’t be disappointed!

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