Resources and Insights

When being a manager drove me to tears…

Many years ago, on a December Thursday at 8:30am I was sitting in a Café Nero for a pre-work coffee with two of my fellow fundraising managers, ahead of a big fundraising event led by my team. I knew my team of talented events managers were going to deliver. I knew I’d personally delivered events on a far larger scale, with bigger budgets and bigger targets before. And yet, I was so stressed as I chatted to my work friends, that I simply burst into tears. Why?

Because I didn’t feel trusted, I felt under scrutiny, I was attempting to shield my team from impending restructure so they could get on and do their jobs, and in that moment my confidence and my calm just cracked.

The good news is I knew what a trusting and creative work environment could feel like  – I’d experienced it before, but its absence here was a shock. I got through that period with the support of my fellow managers (thank you – you know who you are), and with access to leadership development training – not only for what I learnt within it, but for the space it gave me to think, connect with my peers and understand myself better.

I left that role and organisation through that restructure but returned shortly after into a learning & development role where I was not only trusted, but empowered to learn and create, and I thrived. My experience of leading teams through challenge turned out to be an asset, I led on culture change projects, designed leadership programmes and through trial and error and running about 801 internal workshops, learnt to facilitate.

Oh and I also trained as a coach!

Honing my skills by coaching leaders from across the globe – working with clients from different cultures, facing challenges I’d never personally faced, I built on my ability to not only keep up with clients whose subject matter expertise wasn’t my own, but cut through the noise to quickly work out what was really going on for them, and move them forward.

In 2016 I struck out on my own, and the same fellow fundraising manager, who had listened to me sob back in Café Nero, who had always believed in me,  gave me my first assignment – a team coaching job at Charities Aid Foundation, so off I went with my breast feeding pump in my bag, a baby and toddler back at home, and McCanna Coaching was born.

Since then I’ve worked for clients in global banks, government departments, tech start ups, private healthcare and all sizes of not for profits,  providing 1-1 coaching and leadership development which is, I hope, both inspiring and practical, non-judgemental and joyful, because we learn best when we’re enjoying ourselves, and who says work can’t be fun.

Read more about how my experienced as a manager influences how I work today here.

What moments from your work life do you remember teaching you about what’s really important to you?

I learnt that the relationships I have with the people I’m working with are the no.1 thing for me enjoying my job. There can be disagreements and robust debate, but there must be trust.

If you’d like to build a work relationship with me, either through 1-1 coaching or you’d like some leadership development or a workshop for some of your team, find out more here.


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