Coaching week 2015 - Coaches that challenge the client to think and dig beyond the obvious - 20 mai 2015

Coaching Week ICF, 18 to 22nd of May 2015

20th of May 2015 : « Coaches that challenge the client to think and dig beyond the obvious »

Isabelle Serru, President of ICF Chapter Paris Ile De France and her team had the pleasure to organize inspiring events during the ICF International Coaching week from 18th - 22nd May 2015. On 20th May last, Hellen Hettinga, who leads the ICF Paris International initiative within the Chapter Paris IDF, invited Dorothy Ewing to share her view on coaching.

Organised by the ICF chapter Paris Ile De France on the occasion of International Coaching Week 2015, Dorothy Ewing, International Mobility Director at Danone was invited and shared passionately her views on coaching based on her international human resources experience.

Dorothy Ewing


Originally from New Zealand, Dorothy was previously in operational positions (marketing and sales) for 15 years in the male dominated engineering business. Already in those days and whilst working with a real people-manager, she came to understand the importance of coaching. Deciding to ‘help others’ she made a career switch and moved into human resources, holding positions in various countries (Northern Europe, Americas, Asia Pacific) and in various industries.


Nowadays Dorothy works for Danone and she calls herself a ‘talent expert’. Her passion for human resources and her professional coach training puts her in the position of an ‘internal coach’, whom teams can turn to for support by means of individual coaching conversations. As an internal coach, Dorothy has a deeper understanding of the business issues that her executives are facing, yet at the same time, she acknowledges the limits imposed by her business role (conflict of interests) and her natural inclination to fast forward to the solution and she therefore insists on the importance of close collaboration with external coaches.

In her career Dorothy has lead businesses through a variety of complex situations related to cultural diversity and merger & acquisitions. For example in Indonesia, a country with a strong collectivist culture where people have a tendency to avoid conflicts. Rather than losing time on trying to change this ‘conflict avoidance’, she opted to organise various training workshops on questioning techniques and having difficult conversations.

Dorothy Ewing’s credo is: every change in the business starts with a personal change. Thanks to her own experience of working with a coach and her formal coaching training, leaders in her business are offered tools to develop individual potential and build performing teams.

This international human resources director is fundamentally convinced that every positive personal change contributes to business performance.

What makes a good coach?

For Dorothy Ewing a coach is a ‘change agent’. A good international coach has wide life experience (in terms of cultural experience, expertise and job positions) and questions him/herself on a regular basis. She feels that a good coach has to be able to put aside their own cultural identity and their own prejudices and really focus on the coachee. Dorothy shares about a collaboration with an Australian coach, whom she considers an exceptional coach. Exceptional due to her background rich in diversity and also to the fact that she only accepts to work with a client after a chemistry meeting allowing her to evaluate whether she is able to work with this client or not.

For Dorothy a good coach is somebody who “stretches you out of your comfort zone” and she underlines the fact that this can mean the coach has to challenge the coachee and really be able to push; ‘Is this really what you want?’ ‘Are you bullshitting me?’ Dorothy sees this ability to “dig beyond the obvious” as being essential for business coaching today.

How to choose a coach?

Finding the right match between the coach and client is of utmost importance to Dorothy and this is where her knowledge of her executives and teams is a real asset. She will also ask for feedback from the person’s line manager and their HR representative. The key question is knowing what the manager wants to achieve through coaching.

Whilst respecting the coachee’s personality and bearing in mind the importance of building a relationship of trust, she will look for a coach to challenge the coachee. For example she would match a French director with a non-French coach; or she would search for a less confrontational coach for a Philippino leader yet still having the ability to push the coachee.

With her extensive experience in the field of human resources, Dorothy today has a large network of international coaches. She sources coaches online, exchanges with her HRD network and her coaches network about good resources and attends meetings to get together with coaches.

How is the decision taken to make use of a coach within the organisation?

For Dorothy Ewing every coaching engagement starts with a business objective, defined in close collaboration with the person concerned. The latter can then optionally decide to add a personal goal, directly and confidentially with the coach.

Prior to the coaching engagement, Dorothy will define with her business leaders the needs of the teams and the goals to be achieved. Most cases are about change (positive or negative), conflictual situations or a person facing a challenge.

The two main areas cited by Dorothy are:

  • Finding solutions for a person who is failing or under performing
  • Encouraging a high-performer to stay within the company

She will always offer the choice to the coachee whether to be coached or not, and she acknowledges that she invests nowadays more than before in coaching for junior managers, the company’s future potential.

How to measure the ROI of coaching within the business?

While not having a concrete and objective measurement of the return on investment (ROI) of coaching, Dorothy focuses on the results by asking for regular feedback from the teams and by tracking attentively performances post-coaching. This takes the form of 360° reviews pre, during and post-coaching, but is also tracked via employee engagement surveys and most importantly via business performance and results which will often improve after coaching has taken place.

Dorothy cites three indicators as to whether or not coaching has been effective; better team functioning, people asking themselves more questions and staff who work for them noticing the changes.

From a business point of view, Dorothy mentions that leadership coaching is increasingly beneficial as it enables leaders who are promoted to new opportunities to leave behind a “sustainable business”, which can continue to operate coherently under a new leader.

Coaching or facilitation?

Dorothy highlights the difference between a facilitator and a coach. The first one helping to implement a strategy that had already been decided and the second to help a team look at their behaviours and what they need to change in order to implement a strategy. First based on business growth, and second more on personal development (even if it leads to business growth).

This insider’s perspective from a highly experienced business professional who works with coaches on a regular basis, positions coaching as a key tool for business growth: the coach’s focus on an individual’s potential allows the client to unlock that potential and to use it fully within their company.

Article written by Audrey Etner, Hellen Hettinga & Jo Leymarie

Partenaires ICF

Les Compagnons de la Réinvention
Association Française de l'Accompagnement Professionnel Personalisé

Publicité Formations continues apportant des CCEU

Publicité ICF
Publicité ICF

Publicité Formations initiales ACTP / ACSTH

Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account

Ce site utilise Google Analytics. En continuant à naviguer, vous nous autorisez à déposer un cookie à des fins de mesure d'audience.