Kevin Stafford 0:02
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another fine episode of the conversations with Coach’s podcast. And I say it’s fine, I know it’s going to be fine, I’m supremely confident that it’s going to be better than fine, fine in the way that a fine, fine luxury item is fine, because I’ve already had the pleasure of chatting with Karen Edwards for just a few minutes. I know it’s just a few minutes, kind of all it takes to get a vibe, especially with a coach who’s really great at communicating themselves and representing themselves. I am delighted to introduce you to Dr. Karen Edwards. Let me tell you a little bit about her first, Dr. Edwards took the leap of faith to pursue her life’s mission, inspiring people to realize their potential. As the founder and CEO of bloom coaching, he takes an evidence based approach to bringing professional coaching and personal development to leaders so they can take control of their future. Karen, I’m just kind of like tickled to talk to you. I know I’d like I said it’s only been a few minutes, but I like I really I can already tell it’s gonna be a great conversation. And I’m excited to talk to you today. Yeah,
Karyn Edwards 0:58
thanks, Kevin. I’m so excited to be here. And thank you for having me.
Kevin Stafford 1:02
So let’s, as promised, let’s let’s go back to the beginning. Let’s go back to your not the beginning, beginning not like I was born and bla bla bla bla bla, that’s your beginning, as a coach, everyone’s got a sort of whether it’s a moment or like the right person at the right time said the right thing, or a sort of a slow realization or just a pursuit of curiosity or service. Everyone has their own superhero origin story as a coach. So what was yours? What prompted you to realize that you already were or decide to become a coach? And then take that to where you are today?
Karyn Edwards 1:36
Yeah, great question. So I guess what happened for me is I went and got certified in an assessment tool. So many of the listeners might know about the Hogan assessments. And I was paired up with someone who was doing my debrief. And he said to me, you know, you have the profile of a coach. And I thought, what is that? I mean, I knew what a coach was. And I knew what executive coaching was, but I thought, How does my profile line up with that? And so he explained it to me, and I, it was just one of those nuggets that went into the back of my brain. And I continued working in my career. The second thing that happened was I was involved in a lot of discussions and executive meetings where people were talking about succession and talent. And what I noticed was, there was a lot of discussion about the gaps people had, but not a lot of discussion around. What do we do for those individuals, especially the ones that were high performers, high potentials that we wanted to retain, it was just more of, hey, this person doesn’t have confidence, this person doesn’t have executive presence. And so these very vague and nebulous terms were sort of thrown around. And I thought, well, how do we help people first of all, identify what behaviorally those things are, and then do something about it. So those are, those are the two things that really inspired me to, to start working in this space.
Kevin Stafford 2:52
Lovely, it’s it’s that component that I think it’s something that separates great coaches from just all the other different ways to help because there’s there’s plenty of diagnosis out there in the world, plenty of people who are more than willing to speak on what they see as not quite right. I’ll put it the most kindly kind way possible. But you don’t see a lot of that backed up with action. And I don’t just mean like action for actions sake, I mean, like thoughtful, strategic, careful, Guided Action, which is where coaching comes right into no pun intended to fill that gap. Because it’s not just about figuring out where there might be places like needs for improvement, or areas that a space that can be filled better, or a better expression of someone’s natural talents. There’s also like the need to have a and not just a plan out there. It’s not just like hand somebody a book or a binder and say knock yourself out. Good luck with that. It’s it’s the plan and the guidance to help execute that plan, the growth and the guidance to help move into those spaces, which can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially if you’re feel like you have to go it alone, which don’t. Which is why one of the reasons why I love shining a light and elevating coaches like yourself, not to blow too much smoke up your butt this early in the conversation. But it’s why it’s why I love doing this podcast and really shining a light on people like you because of how important it is for people to realize that. It’s not just about figuring out where you can be better or what places you can move into but finding people to help you to see it and take action on it.
Karyn Edwards 4:24
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve all been in those conversations where somebody tells you some kind of difficult feedback that you’re trying to take in, and it stings a little bit, and then you’re left going well, what now what do I do, right? What is this? What is my next step? And who can really help me with not just reflecting on that feedback, but what do I want to do? What is the future me look like? And how do I get there? And I think that’s one of the things that that coaching really does is it helps people figure out how do I get from where I am now to what I want to do or who I want to be and What are all the little steps along the way that I need to take, I’m really breaking it down into those bite sized steps.
Kevin Stafford 5:07
That’s also, I liked that you use bite size right there at the end because I was thinking sometimes it feels like this one giant, unknowable, like, I must change I wish to grow. And you can just be like, you know, big words, big concepts are kind of, you know, when you can take an all of a piece, they’re kind of scary. It’s like, the future concepts that are bigger than we are, at least we think they are. And part of what a coach does so well is break things down into consumable chunks. It’s like, it’s not, you know, 1000 miles, it’s the step. And then it’s that step. And then it’s this trip and this vehicle. And then it’s a shortcut that I found out the hard way, but I’m gonna give it to you now. And then before you know it, you’ve traversed that path, and you’re looking for the next leg of the journey. It’s breaking it down into things that are consumable, healthily consumable that really makes great coaching so powerful.
Karyn Edwards 5:57
Yeah, I think there’s also there’s no growth, there’s a saying, I’m gonna get it, I can’t remember who said it, but there’s no growth without discomfort. So, and I talked to him, I was just talking to my daughter the other day, I said, you know, how you get courageous, you do scary things. And you do those things, and you try it. And then you realize, Oh, that wasn’t so bad. But in order to have that, the build up to that, it’s, it’s wonderful to have someone alongside you that that’s not a friend, right? They’re not giving you judgments or opinion or advice. It’s someone asking you questions about what makes it important for you? What would you like to have happen instead? All those really great questions that force our brain into a future focus, and a lot of the work that I’ve done and my, you know, doctorate degree, and all that stuff is really about how do we how do we get our brains out of ruminating in the past, live in the present? And also look to the future to figure out how do we want to get to that next state that we want to be in?
Kevin Stafford 6:58
And that really is the key right there is by asking questions. It’s shifting, shifting the direction that your brain is focused in the direction that it’s facing. And rather than interrogate, or judge or reprocess or regurgitate or, or chew on, depending on your relationship with your own past, asking questions that prime, something a little more open ended questions that don’t arrive immediately at some definitive answer questions that leave themselves open. And sometimes they do have answers. And sometimes they lead to better questions that you find a little farther down the road. And you really do need and I come upon this concept so frequently, when talking about about coaching to people who have either experienced it or kind of understand it, but are still like, not quite sure why it works. So well, why it’s so valuable. It’s like there’s that I love that you pointed this out where you found something you lean on friends for or family or your you know, husband or wife, they have enough responsibilities as it is. But having someone who is and I kind of toy with different terms, but like an intimate stranger, like I don’t know, if you’ve ever found yourself, like in a circumstance that you’re at a party or you’re at a thing, whatever it happens to be. And it’s somebody you barely know, and you find yourself telling them your life story, or you’re like there’s a moment where someone was there at the right moment, and you don’t really know them. So there’s not a whole lot of baggage coming there. There’s a space between you based on how you are kind of strangers to each other. But there’s this immediate intimacy that creates this wonderful space between you into which so much can move. And what a coach does is provides that sort of distance and space of a stranger, someone that you barely know, who also understands how to care, understands how to think understands how to connect with you. So you can have that trust very early on. And also understand that you’re going to get the guidance you need. Even as you’re getting the space you’re so desperately seeking. It’s really talked about it.
Karyn Edwards 8:43
It is so cool and ever reminds me of the work on Dr. Barbara Fredrickson does. She’s at the North Carolina, right now University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And she talks about positivity resonance, which is this what you talked about, it’s the connections that you have, like when you go to check out your coffee, and you share a joke with the cashier, or I’ve had that experience that you talked about, like on airplanes where you’re sitting with somebody for three hours, and all of a sudden, you know, everything about them. And maybe that’s where that coaching came from the person that told me I had the the personality of the coach or all the characteristics of the coach. But this positivity, resonance is what gets built between a coach and a client because you are not sitting in judgment, right? The ICF demands that we come to the conversation as equals. And our role is really I actually teach coaching as well for an organization. And one of the things that we talked I tell the students is, it’s like you’re sitting in a car with someone and they’re in the driver’s seat and you’re in the passenger seat. And they get to decide how fast we go. They get to decide the destination we go. They get to decide the route that we take there. And my role is to point out things along the way, like hey, there’s a pothole up here or you might want to consider this or there’s another direction you could take over here and Have you have you thought about that. So but The client is in the driver’s seat. And, and our role is to really elevate that experience for them and help them with thinking about the way that they’re thinking. And you know that kind of that metacognition and, and really good questions going back to the inquiry piece we were talking about earlier, force us to think.
Kevin Stafford 10:20
And think that I liked, I liked that, that you sort of addressed the metal side of it as well that thinking about thinking but also think in in ways that we haven’t quite thought before. And it really, it’s not, it’s not going to necessarily in the moment, it’s not always going to be like an epiphany, sometimes it’s just like, here’s the way you’ve been looking at things, here’s one degree to the left, or here’s two degrees to the right, which is not going to seem like much when I lay it out to you. But you’re going to see things you did not see before just by looking at it that’s slightly shifted perspective. Or I often often find myself thinking about the way that you light, a piece of art or latest sculpture, and how if the source of the light changes, even if you stay in the exact same place looking with the same eyes in the same mood at the same time of day, having had the same lunch, everything else is the same, but the light shifts. And again, I’m again bragging on coaches, because sometimes that coach is the light. With that shift of light, you see details that they were in front of you the whole time, they were there, you just didn’t see them because the light was coming from a different place that you hadn’t really shown it before, or allowed it to be shown before. And I get very taken with the analogies of it all because I find that it jumps right just like some of the big like magical feeling changes that can occur through coaching. And it will feel like that sometimes where you’re like, I had no idea, X, Y and Z were true about me and about the path I’m on. And yet now that I know it, it’s kind of a dud. It’s like oh, Duh, of course, of course. And that just comforting.
Karyn Edwards 11:51
Yes, very subtle shift. Oftentimes, I mean, there’s there are big aha moments, which those are wonderful. But more often than not, you know, we changed in very small ways, because there’s such a bias to keeping things the same. Right? We all have that bias, right? There’s comfort in that. And it’s hard to break out of what’s comfortable in the patterns that we have had, because in certain ways they’ve worked for us. But now we’re coming up across the pond something typically where we’re feeling stuck, or that we can’t make progress to move forward for some reason. And working with a coach can really help you identify, what are those small steps? How do we break it down? How do you experiment and try different things? And really set that target on? What do you want to have happen instead? So it’s up so many times when we’re talking to friends and family, we’re just venting, right? And there’s actually a lot of research now that says venting is completely useless. But even though it may seem like it makes you feel better, it actually keeps your brain stuck in rumination, because you’re just repeating all the things that you don’t like about what are happening. And what coaching does is it forces you into say, well, all that being said, and all that being true? What’s the next thing that I could do? What could I do differently. And so the coach takes it one step further than your friends or family or all those people that you talked about. And it forces your brain to think and that’s a good thing.
Kevin Stafford 13:15
I’ve always loved thinking about as I’ve grown to like experientially And anecdotally understand how venting is usually if not always not the best way to deal with whatever happens to be happening. I started to think about venting as just a matter of like perspective of where the air is moving like it’s called venting, because it’s supposed to be like a refreshing activity, like there’s fresh air moving in or bad air getting out. At least that’s the concept behind it. But really, what you’re doing is you’re letting the air out of the tire, you’re letting the air out of the balloon. And instead of being buoyant and floating, or being able to drive and move forward, what you’re doing is actually compromising your ability to do that. And I know that’s a little bit of a cheeky analogy, but it’s it helps me to very quickly realize when I’m actually hindering my ability to move forward by letting the air out in some way, shape or form. And that’s not to step down even to say anything about what the effect on the other person or other people around me that might be having as well. I don’t know what the quality of that ventilated air is, but I’m sure it doesn’t smell all right. Good.
Karyn Edwards 14:15
Yeah, no, it’s it’s very deflating. So if you think of the balloon analogy, right, and you’re just letting all this pushing all of this. Just information out, right. And sometimes it’s doesn’t even make a lot of sense to the person who’s listening to it, because they don’t really get the context but they’re just listening. And they’re sort of lost to in terms of what to do with all of that. Whereas a coach listens, we listen on three levels, right? So we listen for the facts, what are you? What are you talking about? We listen for the emotions, how is this making you feel? And we listen for what’s not being said? What what is that connecting to either from something you’ve said in the past that we have an ongoing coaching relationship or for the first time that we’re talking to ask those deeper questions. Right to understand the context, and then to ask those challenging questions, those future focus questions. So coaches listen in a different way than other people do, who are just trying to understand the story. coaches don’t get lost in the story they get, they get lost in the person. What is this person trying to accomplish? What’s getting in their way? What’s important about what they’re telling me? And that’s really where we spend our time trying to help.
Kevin Stafford 15:26
Yeah, coaches are such great hunters, great trackers, they’re just like, it’s like, okay, I see what you’re putting out there. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna follow this path back to you. And let’s see what I find there. And speaking of, we’ve been, we’ve been talking for like, 25 minutes already, it’s, it’s great. To be a little bit we’ve talked a lot about like how your approach to coaching and your beliefs in your, in your, in your knowledge, which I could talk about that all day and all night, and, you know, all week. But talk to me a little bit about bloom coaching. And I like kind of like to ask this question. As a two parter. It almost sounds like an interrogation questions are like, what did you know? And how did you know it? But who do you coach? And how do you coach them the WHO being like, who you focus on primarily, with your coaching practice, and the how being stuff like whether you’re like one to one, which almost every coach will still do no matter what else? They’re doing group coaching, masterminds, keynote speeches, mini courses, or full course work? All the above? So yeah, who do you coach? And how do you coach them?
Karyn Edwards 16:23
Yeah, so I’m in the all the best category. So I coach individuals, so I focus on corporate. So that’s my main focus, and mainly on senior leaders. And my real passion area is women in leadership. Although what I’ve found since I started my company, which it’s about almost two years old now, is that the issues that are at that level, and when you get when you get up to a certain level in organization, it’s no longer about your technical competency. It’s about behaviors. And so what I find is that while it may be slightly different for men and women, the many of the underlying themes are very similar. And so I use a combination of a couple of different things. I do assessments. So I do things like emotional intelligence assessments, I mentioned the Hogan assessment earlier, predictive index, I’d like to help start the conversation, especially in organizations, data is king. And so if you can give someone a little bit of data about themselves, then we can figure out how is that affecting whatever it is that they’d like to work on, and coaching. That’s how I start off most of my coaching engagements, either through an assessment or 360, or combination of both. I also do teams. So what I find when I’m working with leaders is that eventually the conversation is going to come around to how they’re interacting with other people, whether it’s their team, that that reports to them or the team that they’re a part of like the senior leadership team. And so I also do groups and teams coaching and group and team work. And then I have a couple of signature courses that I deliver for calm confidence and executive presence, specifically for women with a colleague of mine, that we have developed that so that we can help really raise more women up to we talked earlier about the, you know, the biases that we the way it comes out to me is it’s a likely bias. And if that’s the case, and they’re still mainly men in senior leadership roles, the vast majority, and we have a bias of like me, women aren’t women are different, right? We have different skills, we have different competencies and capabilities, and they’re not better or worse, they’re just different. And so it’s how do you how do we navigate together. And I know there’s a tremendous amount of men out there who are allies and wants to see, you know, women succeed and see women at the next levels in leadership. The sad part is, is that we’re still just not quite there. So I just pulled up the fortune 500, just new data out, it’s now at 10%. So out of 500, CEO positions, there’s 53 women. And so there’s still just a long way to go in terms of presentation at those very senior levels in terms of how organizations are run.
Kevin Stafford 19:07
It’s really, in general, I have found that it’s very hard for high achievers to see how other people can succeed, the more the more different looks from the way they succeeded, like you tend to have almost like a confirmation bias about like, I got to this place going on this path. I had these this kind of help I have this understanding of this kind of journey. And it’s a real, it’s a real challenge, I suppose a challenge actually, it’s a real skill that needs development to be able to look and see how other people can succeed differently than you did and still arrive at that same destination. That’s it takes a lot of it takes a lot of confidence. It takes a lot of self questioning. It takes a lot. Basically it takes a lot of questioning that kind of opens you up to more challenging questions kind of questioning that a coach quite frankly, is ideally positioned to provide to really limits like you didn’t realize that other people can succeed as much or more than you in the exact same field differently, and like accepting that and like, what would that look like? And that flows naturally into that that like me bias, which really does need to be it’s need light shone on it, it’s like just leave it open to the possibility that there might be another way other than yours. And yeah, I’m kind of saying that sarcasm in my voice but
Karyn Edwards 20:23
yeah, well that invites conflict, right? And then you know, we could have a whole other episode on conflict, but how we have to get comfortable with conflict, because if we’re going to not have everyone, like the like me bias, we have to get comfortable with the fact that people are different, they’re going to see things differently. So how could we not have conflict? And so we want to have healthy conflict around all those types of conversations. But that’s what that’s where a lot of the work that I do with teams comes in, there’s two issues generally, it’s around how they handle conflict, and do they trust each other. And once you get past those two things, results, you know, really can flourish.
Kevin Stafford 21:02
And it’s funny, because you say that out loud. It’s like, oh, yeah, of course, that sounds that’s immediately presents itself as foundational. Except we need to hear it, we need to hear it, we need to demonstrate it, we need, you know, people to tell us that we need to commit to it, because talking about healthy conflict and trust is relatively easy to like, just be like, oh, yeah, that’s, I value that in the abstract. It’s like, okay, let’s talk about how you execute this in the practical? How is this going to play out in your team? How’s it gonna play out in the team that you’re a part of? How is this going to play out in the team that you lead? And how are you going to do that, and I really love something you you pointed out a little earlier, is that from as you climb the climb the ladder or move through an organization that shift from your technical skills being what’s most valuable to your behavioral and leadership skills, becoming what you most value, and how difficult of a gap that can be to navigate. Because your skill set like the skill set that literally got you to where you are your success, all the other systems in your field, it’s still valuable, but what you really need at a certain point is to develop the leadership skills and interpersonal skills and communication and conflict skills. And the sooner we can get those skills develop, the sooner we can get those skills into the hands of our our growing leaders, the better, rather than wait until people are falling into that gap. And they’re like, I don’t know what to do, I’m in a position of leadership of this company. And I mean, I know how to do the job myself, because I was good enough at it to get to this point. But I’m not quite sure how to get that kind of work out of other people, and yada yada, yada, it goes on like that. And I just I get so excited thinking about getting more of those skills and getting more attention on leaders as they’re coming up. So that when they arrive at the point where they need those leadership skills, that behavioral ability and access that they that they’re not just flying blind, or we’re not just trying to like save them from falling on their face, and maybe taking other people with them, I just, it’s more of this, please.
Karyn Edwards 23:01
Yeah, we have to leave it in the organization’s earlier in the leadership cycle in the pipeline, so that people start to understand that because if we’re just rewarding people based on you get stuff done, you know what you’re doing. And you can then create a crazy wake around, you have things that happen, and you still get promoted. Right, those behaviors have to be because they get reinforced, so they have to be woven in very early, and then there’ll be much and a much better position as the challenges and the stresses get stronger and stronger. The higher you go, there’s a trade off there. When people want to be at the top of an organization, you the parts of you that get tested are not the technical skills, because usually the people around you that are working around you are probably more technically competent than you are now. You’re being you’re being put in that position to lead other people and other people are complicated. And we’re a combination of a lot of behaviors and personalities. And so navigating that is much different. And I truly love helping people have that revelation and then figure out how, how does that align with them authentically? And then what did they want to be and how do they want to what characteristics do they want other people to see in them? We’re not asking people to be different than they are. But maybe like you said that just that light hasn’t been shine on them just yet.
Kevin Stafford 24:23
Yeah, yeah, I’m I just did the semi responsible podcast hosting and looked up at the Zoom clock and realized that we’ve been going for 30 minutes and it’s it felt like it felt like five and it feels like it could be five hours I just first of all, definitely having you back on and if for no other reason than to focus on conflict and trust in the workplace that that’s done podcast series. But before I let you go and I’m I’m woefully going to have to rip the band aid off here shortly. Where can people find out more about you who you are, what you do? And then also where if this is different, where can people best connect with you to start a conversation? question and see if you’re the right coach the right fit for them.
Karyn Edwards 25:04
Absolutely. So connecting with me, the easiest way is on LinkedIn. So it’s Karen, Karen with a Y. Karen Edwards, and then a bloom coaching. So www dot bloom. coaching.com is my website. And there’s places there to also book time and check out my background.
Kevin Stafford 25:21
Perfect, perfect, perfect. Okay. I’ll have the links to those in the show notes. For sure. I’m just I’m so excited to get to meet you and talk with you. I feel like when we talked a little bit beforehand about what the podcast will look like, and again, how I’ve learned to trust conversations with coaches, lowercase c, or it’s just like, just ask, ask asking people about what they’re passionate about. And what they’re great at, naturally leads to the kind of great conversations that I think I think it makes for a great podcast. And quite frankly, I just want, again, more light on the fact that this exists. And that this can happen for you, wherever you’re wherever you might feel stuck in your workplace and your professional role or even in your personal life, wherever it happens to be in your development. This is where you can come and get the light come get coaching like this. This is just a tiny sliver of a taste of what it would be like so thank you for Welcome to part two part gratitude. Thank you for being you and doing what you do in the world. I just appreciate that you exist and are committed to the work you’re committed to. And a little bit selfishly, thank you for talking with me today because I had a frickin blast, and would love to do it again. So why
Karyn Edwards 26:23
that’s a great conversation. Thanks. Me too.
Kevin Stafford 26:25
Awesome combat. Good, good, good, good. And to the audience. You know, you know we do we’ll be back here again. Soon. Karen will be back here again, at some point soon. I’ll probably make myself Wait until maybe the summer. We’re recording this in February. I’ll make myself wait a little while before I have her back. But don’t worry. She’ll be back and we’ll be back with you again very soon.