It has long been said that leaders aren't born, but made, and the road to success is paved with plenty of consulting along the way. Well, maybe that last part isn't included in the infamous idiom, but I think Jennifer Wilson, Co-Founder and Partner at ConvergenceCoaching, would agree with me! Today, we're trekking a mile in her running shoes to see how her firm works to help their clients move forward as leaders and the importance of being willing to eat your dog food - and yes, you read that last part right!
Hillary Gadsby: How did ConvergenceCoaching get its start and what is your goal for the firm?
Jennifer Wilson: I co-founded ConvergenceCoaching in 2000. Our goal has been to develop leadership and marketing abilities in the public accounting profession and to transform performance in those we serve. For nearly fourteen years, we’ve had the privilege of helping identify and implement refinements in individuals and organizations to achieve a higher level of success. Our work requires looking well beyond the surface and engaging in honest, challenging conversations. We have the best jobs on earth!
HG: Can you describe the approach you take with your clients and how it sets you apart from the crowd?
JW: We focus as much on individual mindset and behavior as we do on best practices and business processes to achieve real growth and change. We ask our clients to explore questions like:
- What thoughts are holding you back?
- What are you afraid of happening if you change (or don’t)?
- What is causing you to you view your situation like you do?
- What other ways are there to see the problem or opportunity that you have?
- Who are you committed to be going forward?
We engage the whole professional in our work and make sure that each person on a leadership team understands the impact they have on the way the team performs, driving higher performance through better individual behavior and performance.
We’re also practical – we know how to develop real, actionable plans, implement ideas and how to scope and size objectives so that people commit to realistic, yet challenging changes.
HG: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in business?
JW: There are many challenges in running a business like ours. We run a completely virtual organization where we work from home when we are not traveling to clients and our fully flexible model requires a lot of communication and expectations management to ensure we’re well coordinated.
We are 9 women and 1 man and many of us have raised our children in the business. Traveling nearly 100 days a year and raising three girls has presented numerous logistical and emotional challenges for me personally, and I have often said that while I truly love my very-supportive husband, I also wish that I had a wife to take care of some of the household details – even though I love doing those things – because time is always our challenge. That said, at ConvergenceCoaching, we are committed to have it all. Someday, I hope that my girls will see that I have had a “big job” where I made a real difference and that I am also a hands-on, involved and loving mom. I want them to know that they can do both, too, if they choose.
HG: What kind of shoe are you most like?
JW: I’m not sure if I’m most like this shoe, but I do know that it’s my favorite kind of shoe – my running shoe! I am 100% committed to investing in my own health and well-being, so that I have plenty of energy to offer to my family, friends and clients. I would be lost without my weekly running, cross-training and Vinyasa yoga practice. In all cases, the only thing I really need to take to stay healthy when traveling is my running shoes.
HG: What three qualities should everyone who works as a coach (or would like to get into consulting) have?
JW: To be a great coach, you have to have the ability to see and hear beyond what most people want you to see and hear (keen insight), the ability to build deep and lasting trust and the courage to ask challenging questions of others (and yourself). It also helps immensely if you’re willing to eat your own dog food (by modeling expected behaviors).