This interview with Jamie Ramsden, MBA – an Executive Coach with AIIR Consulting – was conducted and condensed by Candice Henderson.
Q: Where are you from?
I’m originally from the UK. I spent 5 years in Europe, 8 years in Los Angeles and I’ve been in Charlotte, NC for the last 8 years.
How has your background influenced your professional career?
My parents were professional musicians and that gave me exposure to many different types of people at an early age. They also worked really hard, were committed to learning and had fun. My ability to connect and bring people together, as well as my natural curiosity and deep human insight, come directly from there – as well as my ability to work hard and have fun!
What inspired you to become a coach?
Twenty years ago, I had a life-changing conversation with a CEO of a billion-dollar business in Europe. I was talking to this executive who appeared to be the most successful person in the room; but our deep discussion (which lasted through the night) actually showed him to be an unhappy mess, personally and professionally. At the time, I saw that I had a gift for coaching, but didn’t realize you could make a living at it until many years later.
What is your philosophy about human change, learning, and development?
People don’t resist change, they resist being changed. Once someone decides to make a change on their own terms, the possibilities are endless! As a leader, manager, coach, parent or spouse, it’s important to know the difference and act accordingly. My job as a coach is to hold up the mirror, challenge my client to see a bold, powerful future and then help them to build the path to get there.
When you first started out in your work as a coach, what was one of your biggest mistakes, and what did you learn from it?
I used to advocate a lot more than I do now. I would attribute it to my prior experience as a Chief Executive; but on reflection, it was most likely my unhelpful drive to “perform” and “provide value.” I’ve since become aware that my role is not to dispense advice, but rather to develop a teachable point of view and find the gem(s) within my client. I’ve also learned that reflection requires silence. As with music, the spaces are sometimes more important than the notes!
What are your strengths?
My clients will talk about x-ray insight, the ability to connect and my listening skills – my unpaid listening skills could do with some work, mind you! I aim to bring determination, courage, positivity and a pragmatic approach to my work. What I bring is less important than what my clients bring.
How do you leverage your strengths in your coaching work?
My approach is transformative, so the above capabilities are the tools I use in the transformative process. If you want transactional leadership development and incremental results, that’s what books, seminars and training courses are for. If you want transformational leadership and exceptional results, then get a coach. Better still, get an AIIR coach!
Working with me means being prepared to make bold changes – personally and professionally – in order to transform your life and positively impact the lives of others. We’ll also have a great time and deliver exceptional results in ways you’d never have expected or even thought possible.
How do you practice what you preach as a coach?
You can’t ask a client to do something you don’t do yourself – so being vulnerable, self-aware, accountable for results and courageous are important. Oh, and I have a coach myself, too.
How has your coaching practice evolved over the years?
I have recently been working with a Coaching Mentor group as well as the other AIIR coaches, both of which have been eye-opening experiences. Seeing other coaches at work showed me how much more there is to learn. In the early years, I was too reliant on structure and advocacy, rather than simply being present for my client through committed listening. Picasso said you must “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” – 10 years in, I’m still learning my craft.
What advice do you have for clients in maximizing the success of their coaching engagements?
Keep an open mind. Be vulnerable. Be gentle to yourself. Trust in the process. And enjoy the results. I guess that could also be good advice for life!
Each month, Candice Henderson talks with a member of the AIIR Global Coaching Alliance about the unique challenges of being a leader and coach. To learn more about the AIIR Global Coaching Alliance, click here.