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Max May is the CEO of Rural Arts, a friendly, vibrant community arts centre and charity. Max wanted to become a better CEO. Overworking, over thinking and over analysing was holding him back. Within 6 months of coaching he raised his profile, secured his funding goal and became a confident leader that knew his value.
Here’s his story.
There is something about saying that maybe you aren’t exactly where you want to be; that’s quite scary, particularly as a CEO. You don’t want to seem vulnerable, even though we all know you can repurpose vulnerability as a strength, it’s really difficult to think about that on your own.
For me, I’d been in post for about six months and I was a first time CEO. I felt like I needed some guidance and there weren’t the opportunities within the charity to think about formal personal development. I really wanted to think about how to become a better CEO. Up to this point all my jobs had been in management, operations, logistics, things like that. Not so much in terms of leadership. I wanted to think about how I could develop my leadership style as well as my skills but to be honest, I felt like there was always so much work to be done. Even though, I was working my very, very hardest I still had so much to do at the end of the day. I felt really bogged down.
The big elephant in the room with coaching is always the cost, you are investing in yourself and you have to decide to make that work for you. The biggest thing for me, was I knew I could be achieving more. I wasn’t happy with accepting where I was for myself because I knew I had this brilliant potential I wasn’t reaching. That’s why I wanted a coach to take me on that journey. So, I decided to put my development into my own hands and take charge.
There are two real areas that Caroline’s expertise helped me with.
The first was thinking about my own personal approach around some anxieties I had around my role and abilities. Caroline put me in scenarios to make me work through situations in a way that was healthy and productive.
The second was Caroline’s entrepreneurial-ism. She always got me to think bigger and better. It meant that I was constantly thinking of really exciting ways to move projects forward and how to prioritise bringing in income, which for a charity is really, really vital.
I think we all have brilliant intentions for ourselves, but it’s always easier when someone is helping you keep on track. The focused attention I received each week allowed me to begin ‘forcing’ myself to review priorities and get work done to generate the funds I needed for my organisation; Caroline was with me every step of the way.
Every session we would sense-check ideas, explore my thoughts and feelings, and define the best ways forward. She’s very good at keeping me on track, pulling me up on my actions, and not letting me get away with easy excuses..! I’d walk away with new strategies and techniques for anything I threw at her, plus book recommendations that allowed me to expand my knowledge further.
The main thing I would say is my entrepreneurial spirit that’s developed from Caroline.
I’ve got such a swathe of skills and experiences to reflect on. I found the practical techniques that we learned together really useful and the easiest to call out but I think the biggest breakthrough is my ability to put myself in those stretch zones.
My confidence level has shot up.
I’m much more go-getting now. As an example, I’ll now suggest things that maybe didn’t seem possible before. I really feel like I know my worth and I fully understand the value I bring to those conversations.
Caroline helped me smash limiting beliefs I had about myself, and supported me to reconsider my approach to areas across my whole life, from spirituality to finances; all of those numbers moved up. And that’s something that is really difficult to do, actually, over a period of six months. To move forward, consistently feels really positive.
I have fewer anxieties now particularly about my work and about my home life as well. The techniques I learnt around organisation and interpersonal skills now mean I can spend time thinking through how I’m feeling and how I want to progress with any situation and I feel better prepared to support my staff, friends and family.
During our time together, I have:
- Raised the fundraising goal for my business
- Secured front page coverage in our region’s largest newspaper
- Worked through difficult personnel challenges with both staff and my board
- Achieved positive progress on all my personal goals consistently
- Developed my business through new, exciting services and approaches
- Become more confident in my leadership style and abilities
- Read over a book a month – which is more than I did in the 12 months of the year before!
I am able to:
- Articulate what my personal and professional goals are
- Put my health and wellbeing are at the top of the agenda as I feel far less stressed by my workload
- Prioritise and tackle tasks and I feel better prepared to support my staff
- Maintain a clear distinction between work life and home life
If you’re thinking of working with her, go for it
Caroline will get you to your goals, and then help you push past these, straight onto the next. She’s super adaptive and has been able to make her sessions and her skills fit what I needed at every step. Give it a go, talk to her and find out what you need.