This September, Sue Sharp will be co-training (with Stuart Clark) on the first Clean Learning ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring. In the first of new our Meet the Team series, Sue talks about her business background and her passion for training and development...
How did your career start?
I started out as a graduate trainee for WHS, working my way up from the shop floor to managing a team of people. Then I moved to a recruitment company, again working up from telesales to different things like recruiting sales teams, writing bids and tenders. I led the Major Accounts sales team, which supplied volumes of contract staff to Blue Chip clients, and then became Operations Manager. Following an international buy-out, I worked with IT teams, specifying functionality and changes to software.
How did you transition from these different business roles into training?
I am a real people-person, and throughout the whole time I was working in these different roles, people sought me out to create and deliver training. I ran many different training programmes including inductions, sales and customer service courses, motivation and management courses, company policy training, and training across the organisation for all the major systems changes.
What happened next?
In 2005 my husband and I decided to move to Sydney, Australia. But I had problem: I was terrified of water and Sydney is surrounded by it! Luckily, a friend of mine had done some training in NLP and was keen to practise his skills. He helped me to overcome this fear, and off I went to Sydney. This set me off on a whole new direction. I enrolled on an NLP course – and within 18 months I'd qualified as an NLP trainer. Then I set up my own company offering NLP coaching and training.
Is that how you came across about Clean Language?
While I was in Sydney, I saw a demonstration of a Clean Language session by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley and I was intrigued. I thought "I want to know more about that." I didn't have time to investigate right then, but a year later a friend of mine attended a session of theirs on Clean Space and when we tried out the process she'd learned, we were blown away by the result. She was able to achieve a goal she'd been working on with other methodologies for many years without any success. So when I returned from Sydney for family reasons, I decided to train in Clean Language and became a Certified Clean Facilitator.
How did you apply your Clean Language skills?
I started working as a coach, building my own client base and working for Genius Within - they like their coaches to use clean methodologies. I also helped with Caitlin's book - a small group of us met together on Skype twice a week while Caitlin told us the stories and we asked modelling questions to help her - and us - to gain clarity about her Systemic Modelling model. I also met Stuart through Genius Within, so when I decided I needed a coaching qualification, the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring, which was delivered by Stuart and Caitlin, was a natural choice.
What did you gain from doing the ILM Course?
I met some great coaches and I consolidated my knowledge of different coaching models. It was fun – and a lot of hard work, with peer coaching between the modules and written assignments. The quality of feedback I received was excellent and I really felt I had achieved something when I passed.
And what do you do now?
I am still coaching - and I am now a Clean Learning associate as well. As part of this, I recently completed the new Systemic Modelling course, which was valuable and very enjoyable. And of course, I'm preparing to run the ILM course this autumn with Stuart.
Why have you joined us as an associate?
Because you ask me to! Working on the book with Caitlin got me very interested in her work, and I have always been interested in training. The new business encompasses everything that makes my heart sing. The Associate model also works for me because it's flexible. I move around a lot with my husband's job and so establishing a business of my own in a particular location is quite tricky. And - I wanted to be part of a team again - to have some playmates.
What is it about training that makes your heart sing?
It's the excitement, joy and pleasure of seeing people gain confidence in themselves and the skills they are using, then seeing them go out and use them in a way that's appropriate for their lives and for the people they interact with. And I love meeting like-minded people. I think the more people who have these skills at their disposal, the better. And I just love sharing cool stuff!
What are your hopes for the ILM course?
I am looking forward to it immensely, especially to working with Stuart. He’s fun and he’s playful and it’s great to be working alongside one of my own ILM course trainers. I trust his delivery style. He’s outcome-focussed and he wants the very best for each participant and for the group as a whole.
I’m also keen that potential participants understand what they’ll be taking on. As well as the three weekends, there is peer and practice coaching, and there are three written assignments to complete.
What’s distinct about our ILM programme is that it’s based on clean principles. Participants will leave with tools, principles and questions to enable them to run coaching and mentoring sessions in a way that will ensure that the coach is never the expert and that the client is always the central focus.
If you could have taken the ILM training when you were just starting out in business, what difference would it have made?
This course would have been fantastic for my former self. It would have been really useful in helping me to manage people who were problem-focussed – die-hard stick-in-the-muds. It would have helped with selling. Simple things like a “Clean Set Up” would have been great for managing meetings, and clean questions would have been useful for specifying IT systems. Learning to manage my own state and having such a degree of self-awareness would have made a massive difference to my whole career.