29 September 2022

From Recruiter to Qualified Coach: Back to Being a Student Again

Steve Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


In late 2021 I set myself a goal of becoming an ICF Qualified Coach. I decided to enroll on the Accredited Coach Training Programme (ACTP) with Barefoot Coaching. This flagship course, on Business and Personal Coaching, taught online via Zoom, brought 15 different individuals together over the course of 24 half-day, tutor-led sessions and 3 mentor coaching sessions.

I was aware of Barefoot as my Red Tiger Coaching colleague, Steph Durbin, attended the same course a few years ago and it came heartily recommended. After having a pre-acceptance chat with one of the Barefoot team I enrolled on OL37 (the name of the course) which started in January 2022.

This blog post chronicles some of my thoughts on that course and how the learnings will help me in my recruitment practice, my coaching practice, and in my personal life.

Back to Studying

It was nearly 30 years since I have last done any formal study and that was back at university. This time around I was worried abut whether things would stick – when I was 18 my brain had plenty of space to accommodate new learnings, over 30 years later my main worry was “is there still space to remember anything new?”

coach books for coaching
Just a couple of coaching books…

This course was different to university life; there was to be no gentle introduction, or first year to acclimatise, no fresher’s week – it was going to be a full-on course with 14 other colleagues all very clear about why they were doing the course and what they want to get out of it. My course colleagues came from a range of diverse backgrounds; we had in-house HR and culture representatives, entrepreneurs, ex-teachers, tax experts, mental health specialists, and a few from recruitment.

The course was significant in terms of financial and time investment and the timings couldn’t have been worse as a January 2022 start coincided with the busiest ever period for Red Tiger Talent. How was I going to find time for at least 1 day per week, plus time to study and get through the vast array of recommended text books?

Nervous Anticipation

The first session was a bit of a light introduction. Plenty of opportunities to get the know the cohort and create a good impression with my peers. I have to admit I was nervous, but excited. I felt as though it was truly taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me the stretch I needed. The first couple of sessions were great and there was a real diverse group who were all different, but there seemed to be a common bond early on. At the end of the first week I was mentally and physically exhausted.

Online Learning Environment

Covid has forced the course to be delivered online. Zoom was the technology of choice and it was well used with the use of chat and regular breakouts for discussion or practice coaching. Despite the obvious limitations of online (particularly technology fails and it being harder to pick up on some of the more visual cues provided by a coachee in our coaching practices) it seemed to work well. It gave us all a confidence that good coaching can be provided remotely if required.

Some of the techniques we learnt, particularly where physical movement is involved or more creative methods, are a bit more challenging in a video rather than physical context. I personally felt that it is easier to refer to notes (particularly around less familiar methods) when online, rather than in person.

A Break from the Old Routine

Despite the course happening in the middle of Red Tiger Talent’s busiest time, it was a fantastic personal space with which to learn and allow me time to have a break from the relentlessness of recruitment. One of my course colleagues eloquently described our sessions as her church, her sanctuary. Which is certainly what it became for all of us. I used to really look forward to the first Wednesday session of the week and the between session gaps in the course dragged and felt lacking in variety and engagement.

The course encouraged us to regularly reflect on our learnings and this was valuable time to consolidate our thoughts on how things impacted us and our individual coaching practice. Reflection is a valuable part of learning and development and should be positively encouraged in the workplace as much as possible. It is where you can unlock some really deep thinking and enable improvements along the way.

Every day I was inspired by my colleagues. There were always new angles, new insights that people contributed to the group. The sessions encouraged sharing of thoughts and insights without criticism or judgement. The tutors were also great at challenging our thinking and enabling us to go to a greater depth in our thoughts.

The course centred on regular coaching practice. We were often split into breakout rooms of 2 or 3 people in order to practice particular coaching models or approaches. This free coaching, even if it was for 30 minutes, was incredibly valuable in gaining experience but also in helping each of us with specific work or personal challenges. This for me allowed me to develop an open, confidential space with my colleagues where nothing was off limits. Being able to chat freely about issues or blockages was extremely liberating and a clear demonstration of the power of coaching.

One of the things that struck me on the course and something that has periodically entered my thinking was that of Imposter Syndrome. I genuinely felt that everyone else on the course was a much better coach and I started to question my abilities as a coach. One thing we learnt on the course is that it shouldn’t really be referred to as Imposter Syndrome – syndrome suggests signs of a medical condition which is not what Imposter Syndrome is. A preferred label for it is Imposter Thinking.

Key Learnings

There will be a companion blog which goes into more detail about what I learnt about Coaching on the course and how it was completely different to what I thought coaching was about prior to starting the course.

One thing I learnt about my colleagues and I (both on the course and in Red Tiger Coaching) – we all have a very clear passion to work with people, and we all thrive off helping support people through their specific work or life challenges. The change that we can facilitate as coaches is so rewarding.

In summary, I learnt to be authentic, be curious, help to learn rather than to teach or tell, leave my opinions behind and to offer support but also be prepared to challenge.

What is Next?

Now I have amassed this knowledge and experience it is time to go out into the world and support individuals (or groups) with their life and business coaching needs. I have already started on this and have a lovely mix of wonderful clients who I am supporting through their career or life challenges.

I have the formal training qualification under my belt and it is now all about the next step in becoming ACC (Associate Certified Coach) accredited with the ICF. To do this I need to have 100+ hours of coaching experience (with at least 75% of the time being on paid coaching engagements), plus pass a 3-hour credential examination at the end.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss how coaching can benefit you or to arrange a free Clarity meeting.

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Published by Steve Halsall

Steve is the founder of Red Tiger Consulting. He has worked in Location Planning for over 20 years – both on the consultancy side and client side. His passion is building successful teams that evolve their capability (skills, software and data) to meet the ever changing requirements of analysis. In his spare time he is mainly kept busy with his two children, falling in and out of love with Liverpool FC and at some point he wants to re-start his golfing ‘career’.


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