In the Homeward Bound program, participants will have one-on-one coaching sessions delivered by one of Homeward Bound’s 60+ global community of coaches who are accredited to use Human Synergistics’ Life Styles Inventory (LSI), a powerful assessment tool. In this interview, Homeward Bound’s Lead Coach Simon Osborne, and coach Natacha Wilson, describe the LSI and what participants can expect to gain from working with coaches during the program.

Photo: Natacha Wilson (left) and Simon Osborne.

Tell me about your background and how you came to be a coach at Homeward Bound?

SIMON: I’ve been coaching for around 20 years now and specifically with the Homeward Bound program since the first cohort in 2016.  I’ve coached people in large and small organisations across both the public and private sectors.  I put my hand up to be the Lead Coach in 2018 because I felt that I had gained so much from being a coach and wanted to be more involved in supporting the amazing women who were participating in the program.

NATACHA: I am a development consultant and coach, who aims to create a more sustainable, fairer and kinder world by supporting amazing researchers, game changers and innovators in their leadership journey. I met Deborah Pardo, who was on the first Homeward Bound leadership program, at a speed mentoring event in Cambridge, UK. We had the chance to work together on the launch of her own leadership program based in the South of France and Deborah suggested that I applied to become a coach for HB. It certainly shows the extent of the network and reach.

Who is a typical Homeward Bound coach? Where do they live and what experience do they have?

SIMON: There really isn’t a ‘typical’ profile for a Homeward Bound coach.  And I believe that is one of the strengths of the program overall and of the coaching element.  We have about 60 coaches located all around the world with an incredibly wide variety of experience.  The common factor that all Homeward Bound coaches have is their depth of experience using the Life Styles Inventory tool(LSI) over a number of years and their commitment, professionalism and success in supporting personal and organisational transformation.

One of the most prominent diagnostic tools used by Homeward Bound is the LSI tool, which is provided by our leadership partner, Human Synergistics. Can you describe what it is, and what a participant can learn about themselves from it?

SIMON: The LSI is a survey instrument that uses both self-assessment and colleague feedback to identify individual thinking and behavioural styles. By providing insights into strengths and areas for development, it empowers people to embark on their own journeys to being better at, and enjoying more, everything they do.

The LSI has been designed for managers, leaders, students and those in professional and technical roles and it has helped millions of people globally to understand and become more effective in the way they think and behave.

Your coach, who is accredited by Human Synergistics, will help you to understand the results of the survey and, if you want to, develop strategies to make some changes in the way you think and therefore behave.

What does a Homeward Bound coach do in the Homeward Bound program and why are they an important part of the program?

SIMON: The coaching element of the Homeward Bound program is the only part where participants have one-on-one support for their personal and professional development.  The coaches provide a full debrief of the results of the LSI and support their participants with four personal coaching sessions.  Through the insights gained from the LSI the coaches enable participants to reflect on the effectiveness of their thinking and develop strategies to apply the new knowledge that they gain from the excellent and challenging content in the rest of the program.

NATACHA: The coaching sessions offer a safe space to reflect on what is going on in the lives of the participant. The program is intense and there is a sense of urgency from all involved, to increase our positive impact on our planet and its ecosystems. To grow and increase our influence, we need to increase our self-awareness and broaden our perspectives. The coaching sessions are the ideal place to pause and identify what is going on. It provides participants the chance to identify specific thinking patterns and actions, behaviours which are not providing the results expected or can, sometimes, hinder progress towards new goals.

What can participants expect to learn when they work with a coach?

SIMON: Participants can expect to gain some insights into how they think and the impact of their thinking on their own stress levels and effectiveness as well as the impact of their actions on others.  Most of us expect that our thinking is obvious to others; that our behaviours are understood in the way that they are intended.  But this is not always the case and the feedback participants will receive from the LSI combined with the coaching will help people to be more effective because they will learn some ways of thinking that will enable them to be more self-aware.

NATACHA: The sessions complement the overall leadership program and provide the chance to review goals, track progress, and develop new strategies and thinking patterns which lead to actions resulting in higher impact. Above all, I think the coaching sessions are helping our participants to manage the transitions they are faced with whilst taking additional responsibilities and embarking on their leadership journey.

What is the value of Homeward Bound as a leadership program for women in STEMM?

SIMON: The key points of difference that deliver value to participants in Homeward Bound are, at a personal level, the development of greater self-awareness, and at a broader level, the involvement in a world-wide supportive network of like-minded women in STEMM and the skills to have a positive impact as a leader in your field of STEMM.  The Homeward Bound program is strongly focused on having the voices of women heard and listened to around the ‘leadership table’, so they can proactively contribute to a sustainable world. It is more than an event or a one-off program because of the support of and engagement with the alumnae network that will continue well beyond the formal elements of the program.

NATACHA: Working with the Homeward Bound team and meeting the participants year on year, remind us that we can all make a difference. We need new leadership and different approaches to engage others to change the way we live and to develop a brighter future for the planet and its ecosystems. I am extremely grateful to be part of this international leadership initiative and I would recommend women in STEMM to check the program information, talk to alumnae and embark on their leadership journey.

Human Synergistics is a major sponsor of Homeward Bound.

Edited by Diane Nazaroff