After 23 years in HR, Irish-born coach Neeve Guinnane was able to take her passions for business, critical thinking and neuroscience and turn them into a career of coaching. Neeve has deep-set roots in entrepreneurialism, having worked for two of the biggest tech-giants, LinkedIn and Facebook, when they were only start ups in the Irish Market. Although seemingly softly spoken, Neeve’s direct and challenging approach is what brings her clients results. Neeve uses a combination of breathing techniques, neuroscience and co-active coaching processes to help her clients unveil their true authentic selves and ethem to ignite the power of possibility.
CoachHub: Neeve, can you tell us about your background?
Neeve: I spent 23+ years in the corporate world as a HR Professional predominately in the Tech space. My last role as a HR Director for LinkedIn and before that i worked for Facebook. I spent 14 years of my career in the UK and returned to Ireland in 2010. I have coached through most of my career as it formed part of my role but found a real passion for it in 2013 when I got my first professional qualification.
CoachHub: Why did you choose to become a coach?
Neeve: It was one of the things that attracted me to HR, there weren’t many people focused on pure coaching either in the UK or Ireland so I thought being in HR would allow me to live my passion and also some of the other elements of HR also really excited me. I loved business, complex business problems and critical thinking. My role allowed me to venture into all of those spaces. As time progressed I recognised that coaching was my true passion. I was always looking for ways I could spend more time coaching as I could see the tangible benefits unfold before my eyes, it always got results and individuals performance improved as a result. In 2018 I qualified in the Neuroscience of coaching a new love affair began. All of a sudden the value and benefits of coaching could be explained in very tangible ways. That was when I decided to plan my exit strategy from the corporate world. I am a fundamental believer in walking my talk. I couldn’t ask my clients to take bold steps without being prepared to do it myself and so I took the brave step into the unknown. As Coaches cannot expect our clients to do something we haven’t done or are prepared to do ourselves (figuratively speaking) and i took the bold step to open my own Coaching business ‘Be’ Coaching Solutions.
CoachHub: What are your coaching tools?
Neeve: I do some breath work when the opportunity allows and the coachee is willing to go there. I have to gauge this one, not everyone is open to it at least at the beginning as they may never have done this before. People often arrive frazzled, rushing or anxious so this really helps to ground people and allows them to truly arrive at the session. I use the co-active coaching model a process that is fundamental to my practice and has allowed me to use the mantra over and over – ‘trust the process’. The process is robust and powerful:
- Client is naturally creative, resourceful and whole,
- Dance in the moment
- It is always the client’s agenda
- The coach addresses the client’s whole life
Also, as a WINPRO coach and member of WACN (World Association of Coaching with Neuroscience) it incorporates the whole system of a person. It creates the opportunity to invite the entire essence of the person into the coaching space and enables real, sustainable transformation. The coaching relationship is ‘integrated with Neuroscience and is aligned on the coaching science of transformation’. ‘It takes a biological approach to observing, monitoring, & assessing energy flow & information exchange throughout the coaching relationship’ WACN 2018.
CoachHub: What is your trademark ?
Neeve: I am naturally softly spoken so people can assume I’m just ‘nice’. Individuals come to coaching however to be challenged and to push their thinking. They are somewhat pleasantly surprised when they experience this challenge and me holding up the mirror, for the first time. They can be a little taken aback but enjoy the approach as it gives them such rich insights into themselves. I fundamentally believe you can lead with compassion and empathy but you do not need to shy away from the tough conversation. It’s treating each person as a unique individual, respecting their story and journey so far and authentically connecting with them to allow them to ignite their own power of possibility.
CoachHub: What is your approach?
Neeve: The chemistry check is all about making a connection. If done well it enables the person to feel safe and in turns allows them to show up open and honest. Furthermore, when the Coach shows up authentically it gives a sense of permission to the client to do the same. This really helps build a connection and allows for trust which ultimately allows for progress and great transformation to occur.It means you can take them to places where they might not have thought possible.
My job as a coach is to create a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental space but with challenge thrown in when appropriate. Leading with neuroscience in play and always coming from a strengths approach – it supports people to move out of the fear-based approach and into a reward-based existence. This allows each individual to move forward understanding their values and with a new empowering set of beliefs, often new behaviours and creates a space for real transformation.
Acknowledgement and recognition of accomplishments, when the client puts in the hard work and makes progress is so important. Often people don’t get that in other areas of their life and it’s one of the crucial elements to the reward element of neuroscience as it helps wire and fire the new pathways in the brain to allow for long term sustainable change.
CoachHub: You mention “fears” here, what are the fears you are seeing more of more recently?
Neeve: What’s showing up more is lack of confidence and imposter syndrome. Individuals are unsure in the current climate how to showcase their impact and there are a lot of issues around work/life balance with having so much else on. Remote working is making a lot of people question themselves, their capability, their purpose. This is particularly true for our female leaders. We can tell ourselves stories and then find examples to convince ourselves these stories are true. This story itself very often has no basis and coaching helps unveil the current reality, helps people see the situation for what it is, it’s as simple as that.
CoachHub: What kind of profiles do you coach?
Neeve: I get a lot of women in leadership, and a significant amount of male and female executives who want to discuss their careers. Invariably it often doesn’t end up being about career but perhaps work/life balance, imposter syndrome, confidence as i mentioned. Also more and more in the era of working from home it can be about, finding their voice at work or performing with impact and creating visibility (especially now it is harder for that acknowledgement and recognition piece to naturally happen).
Change of course in various guises keeps coming up – this is in terms of Covid or leaders supporting the teams through rapid change or I’ve had quite a few Leaders at a crossroads in their career and want to discuss what else might be possible for them – they want to explore their potential and purpose. I think COVID has inspired a lot of people to pause and reflect.
CoachHub: What is the exercise or advice you apply in your daily life?
Neeve: Oh gosh lots, I remind myself all the time about walking my talk. For me it’s about wellness and taking care of my head, heart and gut. I am always on some venture to improve one or the other, or if I am truly feeling inspired – it docs on all of these. Yoga and meditation Im a big advocate for – i completed my yoga teacher training 12 months ago and continued to be inspired by how much it can help us both physically and mentally. I just did a course called ‘the happy gut’ by the Happy Pear, it’s a plant based programme. I never imagined I would love it so much. Most delicious food I ever cooked for myself. Always be learning – expansion of the mind is crucial to being a great Coach and learning is one of my values. I just finished a course called the ‘Science of Happiness’ from Yale University. This was eye opening. Finally I try every day to be inclusive and non-judgmental. I work at both all the time. It costs nothing to be a decent human.
CoachHub: In your opinion, what makes a good coach?
Neeve: Someone authentic and someone willing to walk their talk and who can manage themselves through the process. We are human so we have to always be vigilant not to get caught up in someone’s story and allow it to affect the quality of the coaching. It’s about priming oneself before each and every session and treating each person in front of you as an individual.
What’s fundamental from my perspective for a coaches is someone who: can manage their energy through the process, is supportive, phenomenal listener, challenges, recognises milestones and achievements, someone who can hold space for the client and ensures there is progress through each session
CoachHub: What about managers? What are the essential skills to be a good manager today?
Neeve: It’s a tough time for managers, there is so much expected of them. They have a lot of responsibility resting on their shoulders. I think the key skills have to be: agility – in terms of priorities, emotional intelligence – new revolutionary emotional intelligence will categorically outskill any others leaders. Critical thinking – how can we think differently and having that 360 view is critical now more than ever, compassion – paying the person respect but not shying away from having a difficult conversation, and innovation – how do we drive business forward, how do we keep our teams engaged and motivated, embracing change and enabling our teams.
CoachHub: In your opinion, why can coaching help to overcome blockages?
Neeve: I think in coaching it allows for space, it allows the person to pause and to truly asses what’s happening in the here and now, not the story we have told ourselves but the true reality, it helps us align to our values and opens the veil on our believes that have held us back for so long. It’s bringing these limiting beliefs to the surface and like a weed getting to the root and pulling it out. We have then cleared a space to grow something more wonderful, something that serves us better – this gives us confidence to move forward out of fear and into reward.
When we truly know our values and we have a strong belief in ourselves, coaching helps us clear a path to things we never imagined were possible. Coaching gives people permission to do something different, to make different choices and align to the true essence of who they are.
CoachHub: According to you, how do you know that coaching is successful?
Neeve: The person is willing to do the work in between the sessions. The client can start to join the dots for themselves.They implement the goals and or actions discussed and is excited to share the progress they made or the difference it made to them from session to session and they have examples to share. When the changes they made through the session are sustainable and they continued that journey long after the sessions ended and you see evidence of where the coaching helped them make decisions and positive changes.
CoachHub: Why did you choose to work with CoachHub?
Neeve: I have a startup, entrepreneurial spirit. I have worked with Facebook and LinkedIn from the early days in Ireland. Combine the spirit of start up with my passion, I mean what’s not to like. The product was super from early days and all of the people i have met and interacted with are so passionate about what they do, they are all about client and user experience. This is very rare for a company of this size and tenure. It’s so refreshing
CoachHub: What do you think of digital coaching?
Neeve: Initially I was concerned that somehow people would miss out on the face to face experience and that it would be harder to build rapport and create a solid connection. However I have been digitally coaching for many years in the capacity of a Human Resources Business Partner. It takes skill, focus and concentration at first but then once you have built the muscle around it, it feels natural. I don’t believe the person misses out at all, the quality and integrity of the coaching remains.
CoachHub: What are the advantages of CoachHub?
Neeve: It’s easy to navigate, slick and continuously improving. It’s a one stop shop for all of your coaching needs. It’s agile and can pivot to the needs of the business its connecting with. The quality of the coaches is excellent and every coach is put through a rigorous interview and training to ensure they are capable of fulfilling the high standard Coachub expects. They truly care about user experience both from the client and coach perspective. The energy of the company is palpable and they have a strong moral compass (I am one of their volunteer coaches for their charity offering to front line workers).
CoachHub: Any final thoughts?
Neeve: I feel very privileged to share this with you. Thank you.