Working with a coach, is it really for me?

So, we have all heard about coaching, both to individuals and organisations, but there’s a huge gap between hearing about them and recognising what they can offer. The NHS Ten Year Plan (click for a downloadable PDF) provides insight to both effective resources and the need for operational and innovative leadership to drive collaboration. You may well ask how can your coach help to achieve this?

Thinking from outside the organisation.

We have all heard of and indeed often do ‘think outside the box’ but is this enough, where do we find the time to do this and where do we start? The NHS is a powerful beast, but sometimes you can be so close to whatever you are doing, you lose clarity. We are knowledge rich, time poor and your coach can think outside the organisation for you. While the NHS has its structure and its way of doing things, its changing, and the current pace of change suggests it will maintain that momentum. A coach can provide clarity, but can also provide useful insight, particularly if you hire one that has had experience both inside, and outside the service. They can make it easier to see things from a distance and make better decisions because of it. You’ll get a whole new perspective as a result.

A source of encouragement

Working in the NHS is a challenge, no matter how far along the road you are. You may not always have a source of support to turn to. A coach can provide the source you need. Regular meetings will also ensure you have that input to look forward to. Look on them as a critical friend with only your best interests at heart.

A confidential sounding board

When you hire a coach, every session between the two of you will be completely confidential. This means you can discuss whatever you wish. The coach has no direct connection to your organisation, which means they can devote their attention entirely to your needs. You can discuss your role, the way you approach the organisation and day-to-day tasks, and anything else that is relevant or important at the time. Your coach will be able to help you by acting as a sounding board – giving you the confidence to deliver better results.

Finding solutions to problems

No matter what organisation you are in, you’ll encounter problems along the way. That’s pretty much a given. What can change is the way you tackle them. Sometimes you may struggle to find an appropriate solution. You can sleep on a problem, brainstorm solutions and rely on your experience to find the right path forward. Yet you may still come up against the proverbial brick wall. A coach may be able to help you knock that wall down. Since they are removed from the organisation, so to speak, they can help you move towards solutions. They can help you brainstorm in ways you may never have considered before.

Asking the right questions

Even the best manager, CEO or Chair will overlook things in their quest to perform their role to the best of their abilities. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision, leaving you to completely overlook elements that might be obvious to others. A good coach can ask the right questions – questions that will steer you towards a better performance on a continued basis.

A greater degree of efficiency

You may find your relationship with a coach causes you to become more efficient too. It’s easy to think a monthly meeting with a coach takes you away from your work. Yet the time you spend together will likely be extremely fruitful. You will probably find you come away from that meeting with plenty of ideas and ways to take your department or organisation forward. In short, some time spent with a coach might just be one of the best things you do.

Get in touch

If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please email us at You can also contact Alan directly at

Alan Ball is a Director of At-Scale and has a career both inside and outside of the NHS, having been a NED for a Hospital, and a GP Federation, and latterly the Managing Partner of Octagon Medical Practice. Alan holds an MSc Masters Degree in Psychology & Coaching from the University of East London, and is a member of both the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and the AC (Association of Coaching)