As a qualified Company Secretary for well-over a decade and more recently a qualified Professional Coach (“Coach”), I was keen to explore in more depth what qualities these professions share in common.
I was awarded Associate and Fellow status by The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland (“CGI” www.cgi.org.uk/) in 2007 and 2009 respectively and have 15+ years of Company Secretary experience within a large multinational group. Then in 2017, I expanded my training portfolio with a coaching qualification, certified by the UK Association for Coaching (“AC” – https://www.associationforcoaching.com/), which supported me greatly through the next phases of my career.
The COMPANY SECRETARY and the COACH
The CGI describes a Company Secretary as:
“A strategic position of considerable influence at the heart of governance operations within an organisation.”
The Company Secretary role requires a wide-ranging skill set and knowledge in core functions of the company (including law, finance, governance, people, strategy and secretarial practice) to support Board and Committee members, the Chair and to act as a lynch-pin with key company officers, departments, as well as external stakeholders. Ultimately to make a significant contribution to the board performance and the success of the company.
The AC definition of Coaching:
“A collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee.”
Author and Coach Tony Robbins refers to life coaching as:
“…a unique service designed to help ambitious achievers meet the outcomes that will bring them success and fulfilment”.
When facilitating the coaching process, the Coach too applies a variety of skills and tools to support clients in gaining insights and resources that influence growth, to expand their self-confidence and potential, and work on the behaviours and mindset that help leap into their desired successes.
COMPANY SECRETARY and COACH: 6 Qualities in Common
Reflecting on my own Company Secretary and Coach experience, here are key common qualities I found in both environments (this list is non-exhaustive):
1. Clarity of Intentions
Each duty of the Company Secretary, whether big or small, is given the same due care and consideration with the big picture in mind: understanding of company projects and executive management, their values and reaching overall good governance.
Equally, a Coach encourages clients to explore their deeper values and beliefs to become better aware of their whole person and what’s most important to them, which put together acts as the North Start for taking the next steps in the right direction with clarity of intention.
2. Moving Forward with Action
The Company Secretary is a multi-tasker who approaches all actions with caution and attention to ensure the company can move safely forward to their desired outcomes, all the while supporting governing bodies and promoting compliance.
As a Coach, you look to create a safe space for clients to openly think with a forward-looking mindset: explore goals and options from different perspectives, map the best action plan and feel supported as they navigate through their step-by-step journey.
3. Effective Listening
Great communication skills are vital to the Company Secretary. In particular, listening attentively when co-working with the Chair, Boards and Committees, and liaising with the broad-range of functions and internal/external stakeholders.
Active listening is just as crucial for the Coach to encourage the most effective thinking and conversations, and to lead with powerful questions that spark insights and positive transformation. Listening not just with ears, but eyes and intuition as well.
4. Attention to Detail
A necessary quality of the Company Secretary is to have an excellent eye for detail, not only in writing and editing but across a variety of other organisational areas too. Attention to detail means carrying out tasks thoroughly and working with consistent high-quality.
The coaching process is also detail-oriented in its approach. A Coach ability to stay on scope with the client’s interests is vital, and to practice strong observational and analytical skills to notice and feedback both what is said and unsaid in order to guide optimal conversations that lead to commitment and actions.
Company Secretary and Coach equally work in partnership style for the ultimate benefit of the company goals and their clients’ growth.
As trustworthy partners, they act as key players, seeking to make positive contributions and create the right synergy in their respective environments, with confidentiality, commitment, alignment and optimism, as well as authentic belief in the higher potential that can be achieved.
6. Building Connections
Strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are valuable qualities for building effective connections and for the successful performance of both Company Secretary and Coach roles. We tend to identify ourselves with what we technically offer in our profession, and we become our titles: I AM a Company Secretary, I AM a Coach. But I believe we are above all: humans.
Don’t miss the opportunities that showing-up as “human” offers, and the power of connecting on a human level with empathy, compassion and genuine interest in one another. Start meetings like many coaching sessions do, with centering exercises that encourage physical and mental presence, focus and performance, as well as deeper connections.
The Company Secretary and Coach have more in common than one may first expect. My transition between Company Secretary and professional Life and Executive Coach was certainly buffered by many transferrable qualities. Most professions in fact that involve people leadership and collaborations would very much benefit from developing Coaching as an added tool and strength.
When shifting career, you never start from scratch!
In both corporate and coaching environments, I am particularly passionate about building on intrinsic human factors that support positive collaborations and effective communication, which help make work more fulfilling, enjoyable and successful.
In a Russell Brand interview with Brené Brown (https://brenebrown.com/) (From the series: Under The Skin), Brené questioned how company systems that do not value human spirituality can work when they are designed to serve people [as stakeholders] who are inherently spiritual beings. She refers to de-humanisation, and ignoring the core of who we are, in a corporate system as dangerous.
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