Executive Coaching and Leadership Certificate Program: A Student’s Perspective

Kay Schwob, Senior Director of Development
I am learning to be curious.

My initial interest in becoming a coach started when I had an opportunity to be coached by Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington University. I was intrigued by how she was able to ask me questions in a way that allowed me to think differently. At the time, I didn’t know much about executive leadership coaching and the impact that it could have on me. Those 30-minute sessions were motivating and exciting to be a part of, and I found myself trying to emulate that type of questioning with individuals in my team. While I had no idea what I was doing and what it meant to be a co-active coach, it stirred something within me to want to pursue this to become a better leader at Huntington University. I typically have been the person who makes decisions, but I have often wanted to empower others to make those decisions and didn’t know how to do it. I have learned to ask questions differently during my 1-1’s with my team. I am learning to not jump in and solve a problem so quickly, but to ask even the simplest question: “What do you think you should do?” or “What are you trying to accomplish?”  

The leadership coaching class is the perfect space for us to practice coaching with real-life experiences in a confidential and safe environment. The class allows us to learn from each other in a respectful, encouraging, and constructive way. One expectation of this course is that “each of us is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.” It is a fantastic reminder of who we are as people and who we are as coaches and coachees. I am reminded of a verse in Psalms, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalms 139:14 NIV). God gave us very powerful minds to do amazing things. We need to tap into those resources, unlock them to think differently, and in return be more imaginative or inventive in our way of thinking. We can limit ourselves by not exploring new or expanding ideas for fear of failing. 

There are several helping modalities, and all are good and have a purpose. However, we are learning to be a coach, not a counselor, and we need to think that way when we are meeting with coachees. They are not broken, and as coaches, we focus on the whole person. The coach focuses on the future and drives the conversation for the coachee to uncover opportunities and ideas that determine their action. The coach and coachee have distinct but separate roles, and that is why it is called co-active coaching.  

I am learning to be curious. Curiosity begins by asking questions. It creates in our minds an opportunity to look for an answer. It opens up creativity, discovery, and contemplation. As the coach, I don’t have to have all the answers. I help the coachee explore other ideas by asking questions, and it allows the coachee to respond where there is no wrong answer because it is their answer. 

We also hold the coachee accountable for their actions and they report on what they learned from their action.  

I am excited to continue this journey and start the second class to become a co-active leadership coach with credentialing through ICF (International Coaching Federation). To learn more about the Executive Coaching and Leadership Certificate at Huntington University, visit huntington.edu/Leadership.  

Written by
Kay Schwob, Senior Director of Development