As early- and mid-career scientists take on their professional journeys towards becoming an independent researcher, many challenges along the way can hamper professional growth and satisfaction. Whether they feel stuck in their current roles, struggle with work-life balance, or long for a fresh start in a new department, taking the time to explore all the options can be a transformative first step.
In this blog post, I explore the benefits of executive coaching for mid-career scientists, utilising the powerful GROW coaching framework to help them overcome obstacles, unlock their potential, and achieve their professional goals.
Goal – Unlocking potential through personalised support
Executive coaching serves as a personalised support system. It can be a great way to empower individuals to uncover their own solutions, develop essential skills, and modify their ways of thinking and doing. By utilising the GROW coaching framework, mid-career scientists can redefine their career trajectory and set meaningful goals. Setting goals isn’t easy. Goals don’t have to be tangiable or SMART, they can simply be a feeling you want to achieve. “Who do you want to be? What difference do you want to make? How do you want to feel after a day at work?” are perfectly legitimate questions to consider.
Through the coaching process, setting a goal is the first step to finding the tools and strategies needed to move forwards.
Reality – Assessing challenges and taking control
The GROW coaching framework encourages mid-career scientists to assess the current reality of their role and identify the challenges they face. With the guidance of an executive coach, they can examine their work-life balance, navigate changes imposed by internal policies and external funders, and understand which skills and competancies they need to develop to take on new roles.
This way of looking at a problem or stumbling block can empower scientists to take control of their journey and get to work setting out a renewed path forwards.
Options – Exploring possibilities and addressing challenges
Within the GROW coaching framework, mid-career scientists are encouraged to explore the various different ways they can tackle the challenges that lie ahead. A skilled coach will guide them to brainstorm alternatives and evaluate different career paths. They will also consider different opportunities that might be available – whether in their own institution or externally.
This process helps scientists to make informed choices, identifying the most suitable options that align with their aspirations – but perhaps more crucially, with their values.
Will – Taking action and embracing growth
The final step in the GROW coaching framework is to establish a plan of action and commit to growth. As an action-orientated coach, this part of the GROW framework really speaks to me.
Developing a clear action plan with achievable steps, and sticking to it, is a really great way to make progress. I always find it’s far easier to break a big change down into a series of little steps rather than to simply go for the big goal. I often refer to this as “chunking up change”. This means that in follow-up coaching sessions we can look at whether the plan is actually working. If not – then we talk about why and make some tweaks here and there.
Don’t forget to take time to explore the issue
But it’s not all about structured goal-focused coaching, is it? There’s a lot of value in taking some time to explore a particular issue to understand either why a challenge is a challenge, or what lies behind it.
Interested in coaching?
Sometimes it’s easier to just talk these things through with a trained coach.
If you feel the time is right for you, get in touch – I may be able to help.
I’ve worked in science for over 15 years, advising leaders through complex change and reputational issues, and supporting early-and mid-career researchers and other professional support staff to go forwards in their careers. As an executive coach, I apply these insights to support others on their career journeys.