“Coaching is giving people back their rightful place in the organisation.”

CoachHub · 4 May 2020 · 7 min read

Because we have an exceptional community of coaches, it is important for us to highlight the first players of our platform: our coaches.

Alain Barbier, 51 years old, is a PCC certified coach with the ICF (Professional Certified Coach – International Coach Federation). A former senior international police official, Alain now works as an auditor with The Standing Police Monitoring Committee for the Control of Police Services of the Belgian Federal Parliament, a unique institution in the world. Having held various positions in Interpol’s services for many years, he draws on a rich professional experience in a multicultural organisation whose mission is the international cooperation of its Member States. His exceptional observation skills and his ability to ask the right questions enable Alain to quickly build good connections with others, so it was only natural for him to turn to coaching. For Alain, understanding how the other person functions and feels is the basis of quality coaching.

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Why and how did you become a coach?

Alain Barbier: The human mind and its mechanisms have always interested me. Having spent a large part of my career as a senior police officer for Interpol or for the Belgian police, I wanted to make the most of the experience and knowledge I had acquired. Interpol is an international organisation that allows us to meet all types of profiles and to adapt to all situations. So it was very enriching on a personal level. After a master’s degree in criminology and law, ten years with the Belgian police and then an MBA that allowed me to work in startups as a consultant for a year, I realised that I liked to guide others and accompany them on their personal journey. My time in the public and private sector helped me a lot to understand the questions that employees and leaders can have on a daily basis. I wanted to go further by starting a year-long training as a coach, supported by my wife who also took the training. This activity that we have in common allows us to constantly exchange on our practices, anecdotes, our methods and to question ourselves in an almost permanent way. Sharing is at the heart of the coaching profession.

Describe a coaching session with you.

Alain Barbier: I could schematize by saying that the first session puts two people in contact, that the overall goal of the coaching is refined and that the other sessions will be made of sub-goals that feed the overall goal, and of actions put into action between each session for a complete success. Each session is then broken down according to a coaching scheme where the mechanisms, behaviours and feelings are studied to detect difficulties, challenges or problems and remedy them in a sustainable way by drawing on the untapped potential of the coachee. This being said, in a more personalised way, I would say that coaching is based, for me, on the creation and maintenance of a bond. The connection between the coachee and the coach is very important, even indispensable. The coachee must feel confident to open up and express his feelings.

Throughout the sessions, I build a bond with my coachees so that they can drop the mask and bring out the best in themselves. If the bond is not created with them, then the session won’t have as much impact. For example, it took me several sessions to gain the confidence of one of my coachees. I opened up to her, confided in her about myself so that in return, she could open up to me. Once the connection is established, I try to understand the mechanisms of my coachee and make him/her aware of them so that he can unblock problematic situations and find the path that will generate new behaviours. The coach helps the sustainable transformation of his clients’ behaviours through action. Only movement will enable the new mechanisms of thought and behaviour to be applied.

What are your favourite coaching tools?

Alain Barbier: The coachee is the expert of his life and my role is to bring out his potential. In terms of tools, like every coach, I have a chest full of them and I learn new ones regularly. I particularly like Clare Graves‘ theory of the cyclical emergence of levels of existence (called the Dynamic Spiral on which I am currently writing a book with two other coaches to show the practical aspects of this theory for team management). I use techniques recognized and encouraged by the international association of coaches such as logical levels of existence, non-violent communication, tools to improve relationships, communication and leadership (for example by Marshall Goldsmith). These tools allow me to provide support to enable the coachee to adapt the behaviours to be changed/improved, to move towards positive attitudes or generate concrete results. My professional experience and intuition naturally help me a lot.

According to you, what makes a good coach?

Alain Barbier: For me, what makes a good coach is: listening and caring, observing and putting the coachee into action. The coach helps you to surpass yourself by helping the coachee to accept his/her emotions, to mentally schematize the blockage in order to surpass it and reach his goals. A bit like a mental coach in sport. At the end of the coaching, you have to be sure that you have done everything possible to put the person into action. The coach must also show humility. The coachee is the main actor of the session. The more the coach talks and works, the less the coachee will progress. I know that coaching is successful when I feel the satisfaction of the coachee. After each session, I ask three questions: how do you feel, what awareness have you made and what have you learned from yourself during this session. The answers are my indicators of success. It is also important to question yourself, all the time, and to share with existing coaching communities to always progress.

What types of profiles do you coach?

Alain Barbier: I work with a lot of different profiles and in three languages: French, Dutch and English. Thanks to my experience in the international and Belgian police, I have coached senior police officers. I enjoy working with profiles in transition, taking over new teams or moving to a new position, for example, in fast-growing startups. In this case, it is not uncommon for me to coach young people who have lost their self-confidence and want to be able to take more initiative. It is also very interesting to work on the subjects of collective intelligence with SME managers and executives.

According to you, what are the essential skills to be a good manager today?

Alain Barbier: For me, a good manager is courageous. He must have the courage to share his opinions and express his emotions while having the humility to accept criticism and to question him/herself. A good manager must also engage in dialogue, not discussion. This means understanding what the other means in order to bring out common ideas. Finally, I would say that discipline is also needed. He/she has to put in place actions for his/her team and make sure that everyone lives it well.

What do you think of digital coaching?

Alain Barbier:
 Digital coaching is very interesting. It allows the coachee to focus on him/herself. It is not invaded by the physical presence of the coach, which in my opinion allows a facilitated exchange. Many people are less comfortable with a face-to-face session for various reasons. Digital allows a certain security thanks to the distance created by the virtual. However, the exchanges are very real and go beyond the digital. The link will be created just as naturally. Digital is also practical. Very often, it allows you to get back directly into your activities right after the session without having to worry about crossing the whole city to reach your office or home.

Why did you choose to work with CoachHub and what are its advantages?

Alain Barbier: I like the startup spirit of CoachHub. It is a young and dynamic company that allows us to make our activity known. I really like the platform, which is intuitive; design and easy to use. But above all, CoachHub’s values are in line with mine. The idea of giving access to coaching to all the employees of the company is also very important. Leadership capacity must be developed in all employees, regardless of their profile or level of seniority. The long-term benefits are multiple: better communication, better management of priorities, better coaching, better flexibility. Today, our world is evolving towards a more humane world. A person must be supported in order to be able to transform him/herself with confidence. Coaching means giving back to the person their rightful place within the organisation.

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