Leadership Coaching for Expats

Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay Flower Dome. Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay Flower Dome. Singapore.


I've recently decided to take a class on leadership coaching.

 (Note: I don't want this to become a commercial for any particular coaching platform or philosophy, so I'm not going to name the organization / class in my posts.)

I feel like an absolute impostor signing up for this class. Seriously, who am I to coach anyone in basically anything? I'm really hoping there are other impostors in this class as well.

 What keeps us from trying new things?

I think that this mindset of being an impostor is running rampant. It's fueled by the comparisons and polished facades that are made too accessible with the internet.

 You think you can sing, that is, until you watch the latest talent show. Now that's what it means to sing. You should probably just download their single and keep your singing to your shower.

 You think you play sports until you see the 8-year old who's got more skill then you will ever have.

 I think in order to be a coach, you need to be a retired CEO who's successfully led a armored battalion in a major war while simultaneously starting a cluster of internet businesses and rescuing baby seals in your spare time.

The standard for starting any new endeavor becomes mythical and absolutely unobtainable.

 And so you just sit and do nothing. Why even try? You'll probably be awful at this anyway. Your personality probably isn't suited to it. You'll probably foul the whole thing up.

 I'm worried that I'll exposed and that I won't measure up. And the reality is that there is an element of truth in all this. That might happen. But most things in life that are worthwhile, well they aren't easy. If they were, everyone would do them. 

 What is Leadership Coaching?

Why leadership coaching? And why take a class, since I don't have any plans on going into the coaching business.

First off, it's helpful to understand what leadership coaching is and is not. It isn't telling people what to do. It isn't holding people accountable to become more productive, or giving motivational speeches. It isn't telling people that they're great, and that they just need to put themselves first because they're worth it. It's none of these things, be- those are the roles of close friends and mentors and parents and those who know us deeply.

Leadership coaching is about helping people to understand what they really want to pursue, out outcomes their hoping for, and how to better challenges that they're facing. It's about helping them to pick the goal they really want to pursue, give it their best shot, and then reassess. It's about learning, and self-realization, which ultimately enables self-leadership. The goal of a leadership coach is not become a better leader, but to help you become a better leader of yourself and your own life. To take initiative and make decisions, to try, fail and get back up. To learn from mistakes, and crystallize our successes.

So why take a Leadership Coaching Class?

I've wanted to learn something new for a little while now. This seemed great because it seemed like it would be stretching, and simultaneously give you tools that would allow you to help other people determine their goals, help business owners gain more direction as they grow, help your family gain deeper insight and improve their communication. I also felt that this class would help me personally. To become a better communicator, and to become more engaged in the relationships that are in my sphere of influence.

 Expats and Leadership Coaching 

Expats face unique challenges, and find that generally only other expats can empathize with the bizarre experiences that they've experienced. Navigating hierarchical relationships in the workplace, overcoming communication barriers that extend beyond the words being used, or understanding why a contractor would agree to build something that they cannot possibly deliver the requested item are normal challenges for Expats that most people just don't experience when living in a homogeneous culture.  People who have gone through the same challenges relish sharing their stories about water shortages, strange foods eaten and our humiliating efforts at using the local language. But getting someone unstuck is a different matter all together. Cultures change quickly, people get overwhelmed slowly, and then quickly, and having someone who is able to come along side them and help them understand the way forward can be the difference between making it as an expat and burning out.

What if you want an expat coach?

First off, don't look at me. I'm an impostor, remember? But someday I might be available to help, but for now you might make sure that you find someone who is a certified coach from the International Coaching Federation (here).

 Alternately, I would highly recommend listening to Sundae Schneider-Bean’s expat-focused coaching podcast (here) or her website (here). She engages her clients on the universal human challenges which become unique personal challenges in the varied world of expats; helping them rediscover their vision and forging a path forward. As a long-time expat herself, she is able to engage her clients from the perspective of shared experience and helps them understand their circumstances, perspectives and options. It's a really engaging podcast, and as an expat, has a lot of very funny, relate-able conversations. Definitely worth your time.

 I look forward to sharing what I learn through this experience!