Azahara Fernández Martín
I will just leave you with this quote by Albert Einstein: “We see the world not as it is, but as we are”.
Azahara is a HR professional working long years in the field of Talent Acquisition as well as a fresh mom and professional coach and an entrepreneur. She is TA Leader EMEA at Honeywell and she is currently on maternity leave. Azahara has been part of the PTA coach family since 2017. She both studied professional coaching skills certification program and NLP Practitioner with academy.
We interviewed her for you to learn from her coaching experience and how coaching skills can improve both at personal and professional level.
Why did you decide to become a professional coach? How did you decide to study at PTA?
I think the desire to become a professional coach started right after I left Germany and came to Czech Republic. Though it was not until 2017 when I was assigned a big team to lead at Honeywell. I realised it was high time to dive deep and elevate the standards. At first, I wanted to learn to coach myself. Then the aim shifted to coach the others.
I spoke to several coaching associations. I tried to avoid organisations that, despite their “reputation”, felt cold, distant and busy enough to throw a forward email at me. Fortunately I found PTA, where the treatment was friendly and humane.
Having a background in HR, would you share with us your experience on how organisations can benefit from coaching in the workspaces? I guess attracting and onboarding the best talent to the workplace is one thing and keeping the talent is another right?
Precisely, the challenge starts attracting the Talent. However it gets harder when you need to retain it :). It is like… having a child, you believe that after birth it will be just easier but…. oh dear… 🙂
Now, let’s think about ourselves, as individuals, as humans. Are we not complicated? We are happy, we are sad, we are tired, we are energised, we are angry, we are passive, we do have our good days and bad ones… we are unique, and that is the beauty of all of this.
I think of the organisation as of a big family. Have you ever had a conflict with a member of your family you wished you knew to solve differently? Most probably yes… we all do.
With an organisation it is even more complex. Employees do not always share a bond and do not always need to look the other in the eye. Different communication skills, coping strategies, command of language, motivation to understand each other. These all may act disruptively, thus endangering the sense of community and well being of employees and the company. The so-called “Culture” in an organisation is not created by “few values” imposed by a CEO. I believe that they are created by their people, by their synergy. The stronger the synergy, the better the culture and the more solid the company.
This all you can just achieve with very handy coaches in your team.
You are also an NLP Practitioner. Do you use NLP at work or mainly at coaching practice?
NLP refers to Neuro Linguistic Programming. I use NLP not only at work or coaching practices but in my daily regular life.
I will just leave you with this quote by Albert Einstein:
“We see the world not as it is, but as we are”.
We are influenced by our past experience and what we see is many times not what the other people see.
When we try to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes and understand the others point of view we are practising NLP.
How helpful would that be if everybody learned to take a step back and think as a “third self”.
It is not easy though, and we are all humans… Ask my husband what he thinks about my “third self”… or better not ? 🙂
Can you explain to those who are not familiar with NLP, how could they benefit from NLP Coaching?
Ufff… we could be here for hours but if I could summarise it I would say that start learning coaching, and after that add NLP as a framework to bring your coaching to the next level.
In short, NLP will help you “master” the conversation as a whole including body language, tone of voice and by far to build better rapport with your coaches.
It will help you to increase the awareness of various aspects in the coaching process.
Would you share with us how NLP can be used for performance improvement from the perspective of a HR expert and a professional coach?
NLP puts emphasis on communication, both in the HR field as in coaching. The performant teams are always those that are able to communicate clearly, set clear goals and understand the purpose.
NLP in this case plays a crucial role in shaping that communication and establishing clear goals where everyone understands the purpose.
Seems easy, but the main problem that organisations nowadays are facing is that they have leaders who lack the communications skills. Leadership does not exist without good communications skills. Without good leadership, organisations cannot succeed. It is all a circle.
I strongly recommend NLP for the whole organisation but especially for those in HR and leadership positions.
I know that your coaching niche is leadership coaching and career coaching in business. Can you tell us a little bit more about who your clients are and how do you help them?
My clients are people :). I focus on those aiming at an entrance into leadership positions, middle management and CEOs, mainly from small to mid organisations. People who want to become better leaders.
I coach people, not their role. Sometimes people tend to identify themselves with the job title. As a coach you need to keep in mind that you are coaching a person as a whole.
Everyone has unique needs, but in short , I like to help them from the inside- out. What I like to call : Self-leadership. First focus on your self-leadership, then lead others. It is very important and the most challenging part people tend to forget. I created a brilliant training on this one : “The road to self leadership”
For those who are currently looking for a career coach, how should they decide on selecting the right coach?
You are not going to like it but… Connection, instinct, experience in the field, personality and communication flow. Does it work?.
I will give you an example, 2 years ago, I was searching for a new coach for myself. Something just did not feel right. The communication between us felt robotic.
After our first probe sesion, I communicated to her my decision not to proceed. She never came back. She proved me right.
How can a leader benefit from a leadership coach? What is the difference between the leadership coach and the executive coach?
Every single leader needs and benefits from a coach, to me this is not a question.
A leader who does not have a coach feels at the time lost and insecure. If you want to be a good leader, put a coach in your life :).
Leaders are often lonely, they cannot share stories with “lower” levels, often neither with “uppers”. This translates in many cases to frustration, which affects the team. This is where the coach comes into question, to help you through your leadership path.
Now between leadership and executive coaching, in essence and, if you ask me, they are the same and have the same focus, becoming aware of how to be a better leader, more inspirational, gain better communications skills, how to better guide the teams, how to empower them…the only difference would be in the role the person has a team leader, a manager or an Exec.
What would you advise to those professionals who are currently planning to take professional coaching skills training? How should they select the right training provider?
Firstly, do not think twice, it is the best investment you will make for yourself and for the world.
How to choose the provider? 🙂 Curricula; what are you looking for and what are they offering?
Who is the trainer? What will be your return on investment? And of course compatibility with your persona.
You are also part of the Women Leadership Empowerment program at PTA as a Confidence and Courage Circle as mentor. How mentoring can help women grow in business and leadership?
Organisations are putting a lot of focus now on diversity and female leadership and for a good reason. If we take a look at the numbers across the globe, the number of female leaders is lacking.
There are many reasons behind but the truth is that because of the history and the lack of diversity in these roles women have it harder.
In theory it should be the same. A leader is a leader regardless of gender. In reality and being all of us human, some female leaders end up seeing themselves and seen by others as “female leaders” and not just as “leaders”. With this unfair label mentoring comes into place.
There is a “stereotype gender box”, which prevents the leaders and in consequence the organisations, from developing towards their goals.
It is very important for us women to step up and overcome this challenge. The mentoring helps enormously.
Thank you so much.
Azahara Fernández Martín
Leadership Coach – NLP Practitoner
TA Leader EMEA – Honeywell