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22 Feb, 2011

Coach In The Spotlight – Billy Rae

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coach Spotlight|Coaching Articles|In The Spotlight|Personal Success|Success Stories

Coach In The Spotlight - Billy Rae

Billy Rae qualified through The Coaching Academy Protégé programme and has enthusiastically agreed to share his coaching experience, so we have put him in the Coaching Hot Seat. Here is Billy’s story:-

Someday Island – A Coach’s Story

I had a long career (23 years) in Local Government, I started on a three week filing contract, spent 10 years as a benefit officer and shop steward and then worked my way up to Assistant Director of Housing and then CEO of an ALMO owned by the Council.

Over the years I went on many management development programmes and as a CEO I hired companies to do leadership training. One of these companies was led by Greg Brown, who is a Coaching Academy Alumnus. Greg told me he thought I would make a great coach. I was very impressed by the coaching approach he took with me and my managers, so I took the CA details from him and went to a taster session in Feb 2008. I’ve never looked back since.

I was blown away over the two days by the passion, professionalism and inspiration demonstrated by Ann, Bev and Pam. I’ll never forget Pam talking about “Someday Island-someday I’ll…” It really made me think and after two days I decided to join the Protégé programme. I was attracted by the blended learning approach and the discipline of having to attend accelerator days and to carry out practice coaching which would be assessed on the telephone.

I left my CEO post and took up work as an interim manager. I had a set routine. Up at 5.30am, bus tube and train for two hours to my destination. I’d get all my work prep done en route then study my coaching texts on the way back. I’d be in at home in time to do my practice coaching sessions on the phone starting at 8.15pm. From April through to November I studied for the Personal Performance and Corporate and Executive Programmes. I worked out a timetable of Sat and Sun at Latimer that would get me to my goal. I soon worked out how many coaching sessions etc I would need to fit in during the evenings and off I went. It was probably the most exhausting and exhilarating time of my life, as my Interim Job was as Head of Housing for a Unitary Authority so I really was busy. The transformational part however was that studying and practicing coaching changed my management style and I was a much better manager.

I really valued the supervision I had from Ann during my journey and I looked forward to making sure I had something good to report for my calls with her.

I qualified in January 2009 and something amazing happened. One of the corporate directors at the unitary authority put me in touch with her coach who led Cordoba Services, a London based HR services firm who specialised in “The Human Improvement Journey” . After having an interview with them they asked me to lead the consulting side of the business, which I did on the understanding that I would do a lot of coaching myself.

I joined Cordoba in April 2009 and I have been coaching ever since. I now coach across Public and Private Sectors and find that there is a lot of learning to be shared between both.

I’ve found that my niche is working with teams-I love individual coaching but working within the team environment brings a whole new dimension for the coach to bring about reflection, dialogue and change.

During the past year I’ve gained my NLP Practitioner and again have relished the challenge of combining study with work. Sarah has set up a great, intensive, serious but fun, course with Ann and Andrew, and I was very proud to receive my practitioner certificate this week. From the first NLP module, I’ve integrated the learning during my coaching sessions and there is no doubt that NLP massively improves your performance as a coach.

NLP is key to managing your own state first and foremost and puts you in the best place to be helpful for your client. There are so many tools that can put to practical use-I find the Disney Creative Strategy has worked well with local authority teams struggling with the cuts agenda.

Top tips

  • Get coaching fast-find a coaching buddy, find some practice clients and get into your sessions with a goal of having your first practical assessment ASAP. Kris and his colleagues give fantastic, constructive feedback and you only become better through practice.
  • Complete your learning sheets from accelerator days and practice sessions immediately afterwards when your learning is fresh. Be disciplined, you’ll expect it from your clients so expect it from yourself.
  • Networking is so important. Although I’m an extrovert in some occasions – I trained as an opera singer and perform frequently – I am introverted on social occasions. The accelerator days have really brought me out of myself and you need to network to find business and market yourself.
  • When your client walks into the room they are the expert, not you. I tell myself this before every coaching session to remind myself that my client is the expert on their own behaviour and that they have all the resources they need to succeed. My job is to make them aware of these resources and get them to form goals and actions that will get them from A to B quickly and with fun.

My favourite coaching question is a simple one “what would that do for you?” Once your client starts thinking about the benefits of actions and why these are important, they really start to fly.

Values and beliefs drive actions-so use your coaching to help clients explore which values and beliefs are important to them. This is especially important with teams where sharing values is crucial to ensure that a group makes the journey to being a real team.

Finally and most importantly as Joseph O’Connor says “when you’re in a losing streak change it”. No use saying “someday I’ll”If you do you’ll forever be on SOMEDAY ISLAND. Or to put it another way tell yourself “I’m a coach get me out of here!”

9 Responses to "Coach In The Spotlight – Billy Rae"

1 | Lisa Young

February 23rd, 2011 at 11:29 am


Congratulations Billy. Great to read about your successes and thank you for your wise words of wisdom – I especially like ;“I’m a Coach, get me out of here!”. All the very best, Lisa.

2 | Ruth Sonntag

February 23rd, 2011 at 11:42 am


An inspiring story. Your self-discipline and commitment is astonishing. You have clearly also invested a great deal of money in your training. And it appears to have been truly worth it for you, given the high level of satisfaction you now derive from your work.

3 | Susan Grandfield

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:59 pm


Inspiring story Billy. I particularly linked your tip of remembering that ‘your client is the expert’! I can really see how that would remind you us as coaches who the while process is about.

4 | Tweets that mention Coach In The Spotlight – Billy Rae - Coaching Blog --

February 23rd, 2011 at 6:11 pm


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5 | Ann Skidmore

February 23rd, 2011 at 9:08 pm


Billy – you truly are a great coach in the spotlight and it has been a privilege to have joined you on your coaching journey. I thoroughly enjoyed being your Coach and have absolutely no doubt that your clients equally enjoy and value having you as their coach. It is great to hear how well you are doing and how much joy you get from coaching. You are a natural and gifted coach and lots of senior managers and leaders are benefiting from your skills and will in turn be coaching their own colleagues. Go coach!

6 | Billy Rae

February 24th, 2011 at 2:09 pm


Thanks everyone for your feedback on the article, much appreciated


7 | Fiona Hall

February 25th, 2011 at 9:11 am


Hi Billy
It’s great to hear how well you are doing. It was a pleasure to meet you and to work with you during your training.

8 | Sousa Hari

February 26th, 2011 at 2:09 pm


It’s just a great feeling to see someone you recognise in the Spotlight! I expect you remember I coached you for the NLP assessment, I’ve often wondered how you feel about social occasions now. Keep up the good work and make us proud!

9 | Jonathan Geard-Beney

March 17th, 2011 at 1:17 pm


I agree with Sousa Hari, great to see you ‘in the spotlight’ and a facinating story. I haven’t experienced your coaching, but our conversations have been filled with your gentle passion and enthusiasm for developing people and organisations and I feel certain this is also true of you as a coach.

I am glad to know you.


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