INSEAD Participant Interview

INSEAD Coaching Certificate: Empowering people to be their best-unique self

Salma Alshuhail

Leadership Consultant, Jordan

Salma Alshuhail, a youth leadership development coach from Jordan, on how the INSEAD Coaching Certificate empowered her to see the value in diversity and the potential of coaching to unlock the best in us.

Salma, what was it that brought to you INSEAD and the INSEAD Coaching Certificate?

I’ve been working in leadership development coaching for young people within a leadership management and consultancy group, in Jordan for almost two years. I got into coaching having spent the bulk of my career in management and communications consultancy, and coming into my new role I felt I needed to expand my understanding and my skill set. I needed more to be able to help the young people I am working with experience real transformation. I was looking for a programme linked to a great university – a learning experience that could draw on world-class thought leadership. INSEAD has a reputation as being among the very best schools in the world in terms of leadership development. So when I discovered the INSEAD Coaching Certificate programme, I genuinely didn’t have to think twice – it was as simple as “I’m in!”

You say you needed “more” in order to provide an authentic transformational experience for young people? What did the programme give you?

Well, I got far more than I expected. In the Arab world, coaching is very much about the person – it is focused on the individual. At INSEAD you get that deep dive into the individual, but you also explore the ramifications of people’s roles within the organisation. And there’s an amazing diversity in the classroom that enriches the learning as you share different perspectives and approaches through open discussion with faculty and peers. You come away empowered to find your own answers and with a much more open, a much broader mindset. Personally, I found that the kinds of attributes you need to develop as a coach – that flexibility and openness – are brilliantly embedded throughout the learning experience.

How has all of this impacted you professionally?

The programme brings together different schools of thought on coaching and prioritises the system-psychodynamic approach in a way that is truly eye-opening. Your challenge is to translate this into tools that you can use within your own coaching depending on the client’s case. And these are tools and insights that you can deploy at personal, group and corporate levels. I found what I was missing in this sense – the frameworks and the resources to bring real change in others. During the programme, I was exploring new ways to enrich my experience and to build a strong foundation in the coaching experience, but I believe the journey for that starts after the INSEAD Coaching Certificate.

What about you, personally? What has the impact been?

I’ve changed in many ways too. My personal fears and anxieties about moving into coaching have been replaced by strong feelings of confidence and empowerment. I’ve also learned to question myself more. And to avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions or cleave to one single answer. There is huge value in diversity, in trying different approaches, in analysing issues across every dimension – it’s all valid. I think for me, that has been one of the chief takeaways.

You mentioned diversity and the power of difference within your cohort. Are you still in touch with your classmates?

Absolutely. There is a strong and enduring connection there. When I have a problem or if I encounter a roadblock, the first thing I do is ask the group. We are a support network for each other. Every two months, we role-play our coaching issues, with one member taking the role of the INSEAD coach. It’s an amazing way of supporting each other and navigating the challenges we all face in our work every day as well our clients that we are coaching.

How do you see your career in coaching developing in the future?

I’m opening up to all kinds of new opportunities. Currently I’m looking to start up a coaching business with a colleague in France, and leveraging our combined international experience and insight. Then I would also like to explore the possibility of giving something back to INSEAD, whether that’s through helping create case studies that showcase coaching in the Arab world, or collaborating in research into mindful leadership development with young people which is my field of expertise: looking at how you coach the leaders of tomorrow.

Why do you think coaching is achieving so much traction in the business world today?

Three years ago I received professional coaching myself and the experience was amazing. For a while I couldn’t figure out if it was professional development or therapy or both. I’ve come to understand coaching now as a tremendous opportunity to change the narrative. If you want to drive real change in a person, you need to move away from the kinds of outdated, black and white frameworks that are essentially built around right or wrong. Coaching is a positive process where it opens everything up – from what people want to do mindfully and where they need/want to go, to greater alignment of personal values with their organisational values, through to minimising conflict and moving everyone forward. I believe it’s one of the really effective tools for advancing people and organisations.

If you had to sum up the power of coaching in one sentence, what would you say?

Coaching unleashes people’s ability to be their best-unique self.

Click here to know more about the INSEAD Coaching Certificate.

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