Pam Lidford is a trainer, coach and communications facilitator with extensive experience in working with individuals on their personal and professional development. Areas she covers are developing and growing your business, working with teams to improve performance, develop careers and meet outcomes in line with company expectations, leadership and change, confident communication across all levels, handling difficult people and circumstances, presentation skills public speaking and confidence in general. She trains around 5,000 people a year in personal development and 1,000 a year to become professional coaches. Pam also coaches, mentors and supervises coaches on a daily/weekly basis. In this interview, Pam gives us an overview of what performance and confidence coaching is and how it can help you grow both on your personal and professional endeavours.
Tell us how you got into coaching and how did it all started?
My background was initially in Banking, Insurance and Business in 1993. I was invited to train to become an adult teacher in a London college and after delivering a 2 hour introduction course and eventually learning how to write courses and teach, I fell in love with sharing information to adults who wanted to learn. The classes became so popular they offered me a full time position as teacher/manager which I really enjoyed. However after a number of unpleasant restructures, I realised I couldn’t stay within adult education so looked for something new.
I started training as a counsellor but it was too ‘heavy’ for me, I took home the problems others shared in a session and felt sad. I started learning about psychology and thought about becoming a therapist but not only was the training really long (7 years), but again, it was heavy in terms of content.
When a friend recommended coaching to me, (I’d not heard of personal or corporate coaching at that point), I looked into it and found it was exactly what I was looking for! I knew it was my kind of thing and my future career, so I trained, qualified and started setting up a part time business alongside keeping my full time job. I did it slowly, it took 3 years to leave my management position and set up my own full time coaching practice. But it was the BEST thing I have ever done.
You are mostly known as a Performance and Confidence Coach. Aside from the obvious, who and how can people benefit from developing this overlooked area?
Confidence and performance coaching is for everyone who wants it. My clients have ranged from children as young as nine through to CEO’s.
For many clients when trust and rapport have been built, the coaching space may be the only thinking space they have as well as a place where they feel safe enough to open up and be ‘who’ they really are. Coaches may find themselves hearing insecurities, esteem and confidence challenges both in personal and corporate coaching, as well as being party to more established leaders’ feelings of boredom or the need for an injection of excitement into their routine, which they may not be able to share with their team.
Also executives and leaders tend to be quick thinkers who make things happen. As such they need space to think perhaps around goals such as creating and motivating a high performance team, communicating in an emotional intelligence way, managing upwards, becoming role models and developing influencing skills – as well as becoming more strategic.
No matter who we are, confidence is transitional, simply put, most of us are confident in some, but not all, areas of our lives at different times in our lives. Confidence is actually quite easy to coach as it is action orientated. All that is required, is that a client knows what they want to be able to do but can’t at the moment, knows where they are in terms of their abilities, skills, belief about the task or challenge, is willing to break the goal down into manageable steps, and then start taking regular action, one step at a time, towards the desired outcome.
The benefits are huge! For example: personal growth, self-belief, feeling good about themselves, learning and the addition of a new skill or ability.
Whilst training or setting up your practice, have you experienced any overwhelming moments and how did you overcome these challenges?
Indeed I have. I was terrified of actually going it alone. What if no-one would pay me, how was I going to get paying clients, how could I be sure I’d keep getting new clients, how would I transition from a full time role with a regular salary to one where there was uncertainty?
I think from the above you’ll guess I like security, but it can be a ball and chain at times and cause procrastination and fear in individuals.
In order to come out of the overwhelm (which I used to experience daily), I got some coaching, got clear about what I wanted (most people don’t know what they want), why I wanted it, (this equates to values, purpose and motivation – very important), broke my goals down into manageable steps, had a wonderful teacher do an NLP technique on me for overwhelm, (which worked immediately and has remained working, it’s on my CD set), took daily action, reminded myself of my positive affirmations and said them throughout the day and reminded myself of a great bit of advice from Jack Canfield “your goals need to be greater than your fears”. I remind myself of this every day when something big or scary or challenging comes my way.
When you know why you’re doing something, it acts as a driver and with a great plan and coach, it helps you to work on or get over the fears so you can move forwards.
What impact training as professional coach has had on your personal relationships and life?
Part of my initial training on the professional development coaching programme included personal development. Before I first started my training in 2003, I was working in a job I hated, surrounded by negative people, (I was too), and didn’t get on with my daughter, (we loved each other but really disliked each other’s behaviour). I thought giving advice was the right thing to do, I tended to use ‘should’ for myself and others, as so many of us do, (I’ll explain about should a bit more in question 8 below), I never had enough money and I was regularly unhappy with my life.
Fast forward to 2005, I had slowly set up my own business whilst still working in the job I hated, but the difference was, the positive learning I received through my training and the lovely people I got to hang out with on a regular basis, rubbed off on me. I learnt how to manage my state at work and no longer allowed others to influence me negatively. I walked around in a ‘protective bubble’ and only let in positive and happy interactions (sure, it took a little bit of time, but I got there).
I brought coaching into my workplace and ended up writing and delivering a coaching programme to hundreds of people and my programme was eventually accredited and government funded.
I impacted on my team and we became a positive and empowered small group, so much so that others in the building wondered what we were doing.
I improved my relationship with my daughter so much that by 16 she was helping me in a small way with course deliveries in schools which continued until she went to University. In 2011 she trained to be a coach (I was one of her trainers) and by 2013 she and I were working together, a dream come true for me. She now runs her own successful business and still works with me as and when I need her.
I started earning great money, was happy, positive, energised, made new positive friends, (I still have my lovely old ones too), improved my communication skills, got wonderful opportunities to coach amazing people, deliver training courses and eventually supervise and mentor coaches. I am so passionate about my work and it fulfils my career values. To feel like that must be what it’s like when you hear you’ve won the lottery, only better. Work never feels like work, it’s an ongoing party with great people.
I’ve travelled to so many places in the past 10 years and have work hours that suit me. I can take time off when I want to and I love every day of my life.
I think it was a good move, wouldn’t you agree?
In your opinion, what is the relationship between confidence and skill - is one more important than the other?
It’s a really great question. Both can be learnt. We only acquire skills by practising, practising, practising! Confidence is exactly the same. Both require you to do something not just think about it, both are action orientated, it’s like building a muscle, you have to repeat what works over and over until you get the desired result.
How can someone seeking career progression benefit from a coaching session with you?
This is a question a lot of my clients bring to a coaching session. Coaching helps clients to understand what’s really important to them (values), why they do what they do (both positive and negative things), what their skills, strengths and capabilities are, what they actually want to do and what needs to happen to get them there.
Sometimes they want to understand how to develop their confidence, or they want to seek and take new opportunities, or they may lack confidence in interviews or when it comes to delivering a talk or presentation.
Coaching empowers the individual to address any fears or uncertainties and handle them, it gives them clarity and focus and an action plan to move them forwards.
How can we network effectively without using Social Media or the internet?
I know social media is the in thing, (my marketing advisor has made me do it), but for me business is all about people, connection and you’ll have heard the saying ‘people buy people’.
Social media is a wonderful thing but we don’t get a real feel of a person, it’s hard to build trust or rapport as quickly as if you’d met them. For me networking is about going out there and ‘chatting’ with people about what they do and what they need. It’s about listening to their needs and challenges so I can step into their world and then help them find solutions by asking great questions. (You can only ask great questions if you listen at the highest level).
Building trust and rapport is essential in effective networking and they need to be earned through genuine conversation, appreciation of the individual and what’s going on for them, caring enough to spend time (which is so valuable), listening, talking, connecting, respecting.
It’s important to go along to networking events who invite interesting speakers, it’s important to go to events where you’ll find people who want what you are selling or offering, and it’s always wise to take advantage of any opportunity to stand up and speak about your business.
What motivates you to get up and achieve things on a daily basis?
This question made me smile. Motivation, so many people complain about not being motivated. It’s actually easy for me. The key to motivation is to align your driving values with the work or goals you set yourself. I have these in place. I work from a place of usefulness, purpose, making a difference, I can do any job if these values are being met and it’s my responsibility to make sure they are and in coaching and training there is always a purpose and people tell me I made a difference.
I’m motivated by learning and growth and every coaching session offers that to my client and me.
I’m motivated by energy and positive thinking and every training event gives me that.
I’m motivated by action and moving forwards so getting up is easy as I always have actions to take.
The other thing to consider when looking for motivation is to reduce the number of ‘shoulds’ you say in a day. Generally speaking, should doesn’t motivate most people, it’s like a metaphorical stick beating you up. Should suggests you don’t want to do whatever it is you ‘should’ be doing, but someone ‘out there’ says you should. Instead, I’ve changed the word should to could. So I’ll say things like: “I could do xyz but I don’t want to”. Then I’ll think: “Ok, so if you don’t want to do xyz what will the consequences be?” I consider the answer and then make a choice to do what I didn’t really want to do, or choose not to do it and take the consequences. I’ve found this really helpful. And if I do find myself saying I should do something, I catch myself and then use it as a motivator by saying something like “I should do xyz…… therefore I will” and then I get on and do it now! Then it’s done, out of the way.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to succeed in business?