Executive & Team Coaching
Civil Service & Public Sector

Executive coaching is a powerful form of leadership development embedded in the Irish Civil Service and Public Sector. High-profile programmes such as the SPS Executive Leadership Programme (Roffey Park) have validated the importance of supporting those in leadership roles. These programmes help individuals to consider what it is they are doing and how they need to lead in a highly complex political, legal and technical environment.

Coaching Experience in the Civil Service and Public Sector

Rachel is a coach on the general SPS Coaching Programme for Secretary Generals, Assistant Secretaries, Directors and Chief Executives of non-commercial State Bodies. She is an experienced coach on the SPS Executive Leadership Development Programmes working with Assistant Secretaries, Directors and Principal Officers. She is also a coach on multiple in-house coaching programmes run directly by Government Departments and State Bodies.

In working with clients in the civil service, Rachel is able to draw on a considerable breadth of experience working in Departments such as Housing, Local Government and Heritage; Enterprise Trade & Employment; Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; Environment, Climate and Communication; Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sports and Media; Defence; Education; Social Protection; Transport; Taoiseach and the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Other organisations where individuals choose to work with Rachel to achieve their coaching objectives include a number of Local Authorities, Universities and Hospitals; Commercial State Bodies such as Enterprise Ireland and Fáilte Ireland; Non-Commercial State bodies such The HEA, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the CSO a number of State Regulators and bodies responsible for the legal infrastructure and protection of the state.

Every session felt tailored to my needs and offered real value and fresh insights. I credit Rachel’s perceptiveness, thoughtfulness and level of commitment with being the key to this outcome. It was also apparent that she had really prepared for each session and also reflected afterwards and passed on very valuable follow up materials and resources.
Newly appointed Assistant Secretary

Themes in Coaching

Now more than ever, civil and public servants are being asked to lead in national and international crises, drive institutional reform, implement change in complex government structures, motivate and retain staff and be flexible and resilient. As a result, themes such as those below often feature in coaching:

Being an Authentic and Effective Leader

Executive coaching at this level is often focused on embracing the business of strategic and complex change, influencing stakeholders and systems so that their teams can do their best work, thereby developing an inspirational and resilient leadership approach.

What does doing the right thing look like?

For many individuals, their perception of doing the right thing is intrinsically linked with ‘being good’, keeping others happy, never failing or making mistakes, maintaining control, compromising personal time and energy. The irony is that these behaviours are unsustainable and the environment uncontainable in leadership roles, leading to overwork, exhaustion and feeling undervalued.

Executive coaching allows the space for the individual to consider and articulate their strengths, accept uncertainty, boost resilience and do the right thing by deploying different behaviours to achieve more successful outcomes.

Crisis Leadership (Temporary or Permanent?)

Today’s mix of urgency, high stakes and uncertainty (Brexit, Covid-19, Housing crisis, etc.) will continue as the norm even after the immediate crisis may pass.

Executive coaching provides the space where leaders have time to gain true moments of clarity so that they can find the energy and resilience to lead on major national policy and economic and technical programmes Executive coaching liberates leaders to draw on their own thinking and resources to meet the challenge of working in an environment of sustained or even permanent crisis.

Career Progression

The increasing recognition of the value of breadth in career experience means that executive coaching can provide an opportunity to prepare for and achieve career goals.

Understanding how to act up or ‘be in role’ before a promotion is critical. Coaching supports individuals in articulating the quality of their thinking and develop the skills and style needed to excel in a new role. This has been an important theme in the SPS Executive Leadership Programme.

I chose Rachel because of the emphasis she placed on remaining highly effective while achieving work/ life balance. For me, this topic was a key immediate concern and something I wished to explore as part of the leadership programme.
Principal Officer successfully promoted to Assistant Secretary
Having someone to listen and help direct my thoughts, concerns, ambitions etc. I really (unexpectedly) got value out of the three way meeting with my manager. I found Rachel professional, understanding, experienced, excellent and 'gets it’.
Manager, Commercial State Body

Use of Psychometrics

Psychometrics, 360° feedback and line manager feedback are valuable in enhancing self-awareness for the individual. They provide direction for development and help prioritise issues to be addressed during coaching. Rachel is experienced in integrating a range of relevant personality, motivation, emotional intelligence and 360° instruments. The choice and use of these tools are discussed as part of the initial coaching engagement.

Team Coaching

“A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”

Katzenback and Smith (HBR, March 1993)

For many teams, this beautifully crafted definition of high-performing teams presents a real challenge. It prompts questions for individuals and the team as a whole

Coaching Approach

Rachel’s objective as a Team Coach is to help liberate a team towards improving its performance, wellbeing, engagement and development. Rachel does this by providing a clear set of principles and process to create the self-sustaining conditions for individual members of a team do their very best thinking supported by the attention, insights and experience of their colleagues.

Team coaching helps team members to:

Team Coaching Programmes

Team coaching is generally tailored to the needs of the organisation. A typical coaching programme consists of 4 to 8 team-coaching sessions over a period of 18 months, with a number of one-to-one coaching sessions for the team leader (usually a C-suite executive). Team coaching sessions are usually a mix of full-day, half-day and two-hour sessions.

Psychometric and Feedback Instruments

Team diagnostics, psychometrics, 360° feedback and stakeholder feedback are valuable in enhancing self-awareness of the team and individual strengths and stumbling blocks. They provide direction for development and help prioritise issues to be addressed during coaching sessions. The choice and use of these tools are discussed as part of the initial team coaching engagement.

Rachel has coached leadership teams in industry-representative bodies, real estate and public sector bodies such as regulators and school management teams.

Team Coaching often covers areas such as

  • Team strategy
  •  Agenda setting
  • Problem identification and solving
  • Decision making
  • Transforming meetings
  • Communication
  •  Delivery of results
  •  Stakeholder management
  •  Boundary and relationship management

Group Facilitation

A group consists of individuals who are independent of each other and have clearly defined and different sets of tasks.

Rachel also works as a facilitator for groups of individuals where she manages meetings to explore a number of questions or critical issues relevant to all members of the group. The members of the group may be from one organisation, from multiple organisations or have come together in a voluntary capacity.

In this context, Rachel’s role is to facilitate meetings in order to keep the balance and energy in the group, help the group capture and organise its best thinking and come to a point of clarity on recommendations or ideas, agree on actions and take those actions.

Through group facilitation, individuals find that they can:

  • Learn how to identify key projects and find opportunities to collaborate
  • Contribute their best thinking in order to address important questions or critical issues
  • Create a more collaborative culture
  • Learn how to build better agendas
  • Improve communications
  • Manage conflict more effectively
  • Gain better clarity on individual roles and how they can be independent of each other, as well as collaborate on projects outside of their own remit
  • Challenge the way they work and what to focus on as a group.