In a very interesting conversation with Business Coach and writer Zoi Lioliou -one of the certified (EMCC) Coaching professionals in Greece- we got a better insight into the importance and benefits of Coaching in enlightening our lives. With a passion for helping small business owners improve cooperation with human resources (i.e. employees, customers, suppliers, etc) as to run their business, she realized she was meant for more than an employee trainer and facilitator who works in her comfort zone and decided to switch her paths to fit with her pursuit of self-awareness and self-actualization. A positive and generous personality, an active mentor, and of course an enthusiastic coach; vigorously believes that with the proper guidance and utilizing our own resources we can reach our desired outcomes.
What brought you to Business coaching?
I wonder if something brought me to Business Coaching or did, I bring it to me! I grew up in a family where most of the relatives including my father had a small business for a living. From the beginning of my own career, I visited small businesses as a salesperson. I remember always being interested and discussing with the intention of supporting small business owners on the challenges they face in running the business and solving problems in working with employees. During those years (90’s) of course, coaching did not even exist as a concept in Greece. Later, after my studies in Human Resource Management, I worked as an employee trainer and facilitator. The moment that trainees were happy to share with me the positive results they saw after a training program to cultivate soft skills was a moment of reward and self-fulfillment for me. Thus, Coaching, as a person-centered process came to fit with my pursuit of self-awareness, self-actualization, and taking action to achieve desired outcomes.
What are the Techniques that a Coach needs to be Successful? Can you refer to three important techniques that a coach should have?
- Questions. Asking open-ended questions may sound simple and easy. A coach to facilitate the process of client reflection needs to be trained to ask the right question at the right time without the client feeling they are being interrogated.
- Active Listening. Listen, listen, listen instead of talk, talk, talk. It is in the culture of many peoples to talk instead of listening. A coach is important to actively listen to understand what is behind the client is saying.
- Reflection is an important process that every professional coach is expected to utilize as a means of development.
What Major Challenges did you face acting as a coach? Can you recall a time you failed and the lesson learned?
One of the first challenges I faced was replacing talking with listening. Countless times I failed to do this at the beginning of my coaching practice. It was developmental feedback that my supervisor was giving me.
Another challenge was cultivating empathy and avoiding guiding the client to my own desired choice. The magic of coaching is facilitating the clients to find their own desired answer-solution by utilizing their own resources.
Do you agree that especially in Greece the coaching professional is rather loosely and unregulated; and that are coaches without essential and professional training navigating difficult issues. What has an individual to consider when selecting the right coach?
It is a reality that there is no single governing body to certify coaching qualifications like in other professions such as psychology, law, etc. In the coaching industry, which is fairly new and less established than other industries, there is a huge amount of variation in the type and duration of training programs and qualifications to become a coach. As a result, anybody can call themselves a coach (life, business, career, leadership, executive, relationship, health, etc.) even though they may have minimum or no training.
Given this reality, it becomes more difficult to set standard criteria for choosing the right coach. I will share with you my experience when at the beginning of my coaching career (2011-2012) I was looking for a coach.
After internet searching where I checked background, cv, methodology, areas of expertise, testimonials, I made a list of three professionals. Then, I arranged a pro bono session with each one to answer all my questions and to realize which one may better support me on my goals and aspirations.
Of course, choosing a coach is a personal matter and each one may have its own criteria, such as similar values, understanding of goals, nationality, budget, and many others.
Given that it is a multifactorial procedure to choose a coach, I would like to suggest, not only basing your choice on good testimonials. Even though it is more than obvious that no professional wouldn’t like to share an unfavorable testimonial, each testimonial conceals the client’s personal biases and stereotypes.
Your book “Coaching stin Praxi” (EN transl.: Coaching in action) was released almost three years ago – what did the inspiration for the book come from?
Given the situation I described in the previous question, I desired to share my experience as a coach and as a coachee, with everyone concerned. In this way, I would like to contribute to the coaching field by planting my own small seed. The story of the book is inspired by the personal testimonies shared with me by my trainees and coachees over the last 16 years of my employment in the field of training and human resource development.
Could you give us a quick summary of the book’s main notions and ideas?
Lambros, the hero of the book, is promoted to the position of manager at the technology services company GIS4U, where he has been working for the last five years. Lambros mirrors any employee who utilizes the knowledge and skills acquired during group training in the classroom or in a webinar, combined with the practical application after individual coaching sessions, to achieve goals and improve work performance. Several questions seek answers within the pages of the book, including:
- How will Lambros successfully cope with his new tasks?
- How can a training program help a new manager to achieve his goals?
- Is coaching a necessity, a fashion, or a panacea?
- What is the appropriate “Motion” after a “Promotion”?
Is about a coaching and skill cultivation story for newly appointed managers, for new coaches, for coachees, and for any employee interested in their career development.
How can someone reach you if he/she wants to get more information about your services? Where can your book be found?
Book’s third edition is available in all physical and online bookstores. Publications: iWrite
Dear Rosie thank you very much for the inspiring conversation!
 The Greek title of the book is «Το Coaching στην Πράξη» and it is written in the Greek language. Publications: iWrite