MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy – The Coaching Journey

  By Reem Assil, Programmes Director, Common Purpose

Building a strong conservation community has always been core to MAVA’s approach. Leaders that can carry on and multiply efficient and innovative initiatives, long after MAVA’s closing, are a key component of this community.

The MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy aims to develop leaders who can bring about positive change both within and across partner organizations to increase their sustainability and impact. A leadership development programme that combines the following key elements: 360 feedback, online learning, face-to-face and / or online events, coaching, and mentoring. We previously looked at the impact of mentoring in the Academy, and today we will give you a chance to explore the coaching element.

Coaching literally means ‘to transport someone from one place to another’ and that is what MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy wanted to offer its participants. When we designed the Academy’s curriculum we wanted to give our participants, namely the Senior Professionals, the space to reflect deeply, consider and explore, enabling them to make choices towards the professional and personal life that they want to lead, so we added the coaching element. The aim of having this element is to become clearer about what our Senior professionals want, what is helping, and what might be getting in the way of their progress forward by exploring practical options and ways of being that work for them.

Coaching is considered as a form of learning, where the coach supports the coachee to develop and learn in the way that is best suited to them. The coach supports the coachee to improve performance and achieve better outcomes. In the Academy, the Senior Professionals often reported on how the coaching helped them to be more self-aware of their impact on others; encouraged them to take responsibility for their responses to different situations, and enabled them to learn deeply from their experiences. Coaching helped them become more self motivated.

Coaching wakes you up. It makes you look at yourself in a different way. I think it helped me value myself more. It is good to see that you already have what you need to help yourself. That you are your own “swissknife” and that brings you more security, more assertiveness, more weight. –  Eva Hernández, Head of Freshwater and Food Program, WWF Spain

 At its simplest, coaching is known to be a one-to-one relationship in which the coach supports the coachee to identify, focus on, and achieve what is important to them.

Throughout the Academy year, in a one-to-one setting, and through a series of conversations, our experienced coaches have been helping their coachees explore their professional and personal vision and goals.

Together they work on assessing the current situation and the changes our Leaders want to make. They explore the actions they want to take to make these changes, and the ways in which they can harness the learning from those actions. The person defining the goals and outcomes is the coachee, not the coach or any other Academy stakeholder.

The work with the coach has triggered surgical changes in the way I structure my work and the organisation which are likely to have lasting impact. – Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director, Zero Waste Europe

Coaching, as has been shown by our participants, is a valuable part of the Academy journey because it provides them with the opportunity to speak confidentially with an impartial, experienced, qualified coach from outside the conservation sector. The coaches can support our Leaders in identifying and overcoming development dilemmas, they may have, or that may have arisen during the course of the academy.

Having a coach with an incredible emotional intelligence not related with the conservation field has been of greatest value to me. – Maria del Rocio Moreno Carrillo, Director, Fundação Maio Biodiversidade/Maio Biodiversity

The intention of the coaching element has been always to support our Senior Professionals in being able to lead with confidence and deal with change, wherever it arises. Working with an experienced coach provides our leaders with data and information with which they can make the best decisions around their own leadership journey and development in the future.

I have had my first coaching session today, and I would already describe it as transformational. The questions asked, and how they lead to my better understanding of my actions and motivations was just amazing. – Marko Pecarevic, Program Manager, Protected Areas and Governance, WWF Adria

 Coaching can help individuals to transform themselves, help new teams to reach peak performance quickly or help established teams to improve their effectiveness. It may also aid in shaping a cultural shift in organisations seeking to move to more responsive, committed, flexible, open ways of working. The principles of coaching can also be extended to the development of teams, to a leadership style and even as a way to change the culture of an organisation. When the Academy offered its participants the chance to take extra coaching sessions, 36 Senior Professionals out of 42 opted in for them. Three Senior Professionals alumni are using their Leadership Development Fund to take more coaching sessions.

The coaching journey in the Academy is a transformational one and the words of our alumnus Djibril Diallo sums it up very well:

The coaching sessions were of capital importance for me. The “simple” fact of having another person who listens to us without judgment is key. But if I have to provide some key takeaways, I would say: 1. Time management, meaning finding the equilibrium between my different day to day tasks. 2. A reinforced self-confidence 3. The decrypting of the 360 evaluation. – Djibril Diallo, Executive Director, Nature Mauritanie

 If this is of interest to you, you can explore more here and apply the fourth and last cohort of the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy to be recruited from 8th October 2020.

*If you would like to learn more about the participants’ experience, please follow the link.

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