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February 25, 2021

The Gift of Coaching During a Pandemic

Posted by ICF Foundation | February 25, 2021

Coaching for social impact takes many forms and fashions, but never in our wildest dreams did we expect a pandemic, which has presented even more opportunities to support those who need it the most. The ICF Foundation’s Gift of Coaching Collective features the positive transformations that pro bono coaching continues to support for essential workers, social change organizations and more. As the world becomes more turbulent, ICF-Credentialed coaches continue to see a need and respond, filling the gap between the impossible and possible.

As poet Amanda Gorman states in her poem, “The Miracle of Morning,” “We’ll observe how the burdens brave by humankind / Are also the moments that make us humans kind / Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer/ Heeding the light before the fight is over. / When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing / In testing times, we became the best of beings.”

Below are a few examples of the many ICF-Credentialed coaches who in trying times became the best of beings to those in need.

Encouraging Women to Follow Their Dreams

Aina Giving is an organization that prides itself on “socially responsible servant leadership,” working with a variety of groups to help remind leaders to reconnect with their socially responsible, servant leadership roots. In April, the group called forth coaches who wanted to come together and support the women in Nairobi, Kenya, to follow their dreams and reach their life goals. For the last six months, Aina Giving has been working with a group of 25 coaches from around the world, creating an incredible mutual learning experience. With the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the group has been able to create a close-knit, worldwide group that can work toward the same goal — building more empowered communities by bringing women’s voices to decision-making discussions.

Aina Giving has been running programs for young mothers and empowering women in Kenya for some time now to build the communities, and this individual coaching project has been an empowering experience for both the coaches and the clients; it has supported the work Aina has done and continues to do in a group setting.

You can find testimonials and videos from the project on Aina Giving’s LinkedIn profile.

Building up Others

When the pandemic moved the world into lockdown in March, Marian Guinn, PCC, wanted to support nonprofit executive directors and CEOs through a small group coaching experience with their peers across the nonprofit sector in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. This experience was called CEO Leadership Roundtable.

As a former nonprofit CEO, Marian knew that the CEOs were feeling a lot of emotions as they led their team through a pandemic: concern for themselves and their team, their loved ones and their clients and stakeholders, as well as finances, payroll and delivery of service. It is a hard time for leaders from every sector, but particularly for nonprofit leaders. Marian knew how meaningful it could be to meet with others who are experiencing similar challenges in a similar field. She also knew that being a leader can be lonely if there is no one with whom to share worries.

So, Marian invited 24 leaders, 10 of whom were CEOs, to participate in a complimentary one-hour roundtable via Zoom. The group met seven times between April 1-July 15. Each session provided participants with a supportive environment to talk through their biggest issues and fears and share what was working.

The sessions were well received; take a look at what participants said:

“I learned that many other leaders share the same worries and hopes that I do at this time.”

“This is the favorite call I’m participating in. My days are hectic, but I consider this gathering to be one thing I cannot miss.”

“It was nice to hear what other organizations were experiencing, how they were continuing to move their mission forward and ideas on how to be nimble in these times.”

“Thank you for bringing this group together and helping us think through important things — including and especially self-care. You are a gift to the community.”

For Marian as a coach, it was rewarding to have a meaningful way to assist and support nonprofit leaders during a period of unprecedented uncertainty and constant change. The Gift of Coaching helped build a sense of community and caring among leaders responsible for organizations, providing tremendous impact on the quality of life for all people living in Lexington.

Resilience and Connection

In April 2020, two brothers, who at the time were a high school junior and a college student respectively, found themselves lamenting how hard the pandemic lockdown was hitting them and their friends who are teens and young adults. They considered how they might help youth like themselves navigate this trying period.

Their mother, Betsy Quint-Moran, ACC, a recent graduate of George Mason University’s Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being program, had been chatting with her coaching cohort about how, as new coaches, they might do something to collectively help others during the pandemic. Serendipitously, Dana Karp, PCC, a peer coaching friend, suggested Betsy attend a global virtual peer learning summit to get some ideas for a youth coaching program. The goal of the summit was to share the power of peer learning and encourage participants to form their own circles, cascading the model to benefit more people.

Betsy’s experience at the summit sparked an idea: What if, instead of trying to coach teens and young adults one on one, she could bring the peer learning circle concept to youth? A fruitful collaboration resulted. Betsy, Valerie and her sons, Camillo and Adriano, partnered with a local nonprofit organization, the Safe Community Coalition, to pilot WeCoach:Student2Student. WeCoach is a peer learning circle program for high school and college youth to help them weather the stress and isolation of the pandemic with resilience and connection. The vision was to develop a peers-leading-peers model, where students helped each other with everyday issues using a structured group coaching process. WeCoach created opportunities for young adults to build relationships, develop leadership skills and receive help and support from other during COVID-19. Current consideration is being given to expanding WeCoach, whether on its own or through other youth development organizations, schools and communities.

While it has been a challenging year, our ICF coaching community has stepped up in amazing ways. For more social impact stories, visit the ICF Foundation website.

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