Interview with CoachHub Senior Behavioural Scientist Windy Tshepiso Maledu
In a virtual work environment, the challenge is to enable everyone to feel seen and heard. Here, behavioural scientist Windy Tshepiso Maledu of global talent development platform CoachHub explains how, as much in the virtual world as in the real, coaching is the key to supporting each member of the workforce in their individual journey, while allowing their personal traits to shine through.
Thank you for joining us today, Ms Maledu! First of all, we believe congratulations are in order on your joining CoachHub. What has it been like so far working in an award-winning digital coaching platform?
Thank you for having me. It’s certainly been a whirlwind of change, but I’ve been immediately welcomed by all my colleagues here and blown away by how amazing they are at what they do. CoachHub’s digital coaching platform is an excellent tool for making learning and development accessible to those who need it. I look forward to continuing to research best practice and helping organisations and their employees reach their true potential.
What initially drew you to the company?
CoachHub’s vision of democratising coaching for all is something that I truly believe in. The coaching platform is incredibly innovative, and constantly being updated by a talented team of tech product specialists, behavioural scientists and researchers. I was eager to be part of an organisation that truly seeks to provide high-quality coaching to everyone at all career levels. CoachHub is paving the way for the future of learning and development within organisations globally.
What are you most excited about in joining a team of highly skilled business coaches and IT engineers?
As a scientist and coach, I’m constantly striving to learn and grow. Joining CoachHub has given me the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between business and science by using my scientific knowledge to adapt coaching for all types of companies. Coaching is not only a tool for organisations to reach their goals, but also a communication style that allows people to be independent and make their own decisions – which is ultimately very empowering for everyone involved.
As a behavioural scientist, seeing the global health crisis alter certain elements of the fabric of society must have been difficult and engaging in equal parts. In terms of response to the crisis, what do you see as a common trend among companies during this period that you think could have been handled better?
The pandemic has certainly been a learning curve for most companies. The true value presented by tech innovation to combat societal problems has become apparent during this time. The isolation that some people experienced from working from home caused mental health issues that will be impacting us for years to come. That said, I think many companies did a great job with such an abrupt transition. The common trend amongst companies has been employee well-being. From this experience, we’ve learned how valuable human connection is and how important it is for companies to take care of the mental and emotional well-being of their employees. I believe coaching as an intervention can form an essential part in empowering companies to handle well-being better.
What do you see as the ideal characteristics of a leader during a crisis situation?
Leaders must openly communicate with their teams and have trust in their colleagues to make the right choices. It’s crucial to take responsibility for your actions and encourage others to do the same. When I was a first-time manager, I did not know how to lead people effectively – so I know how difficult this can be even in normal times. My 15 years of experience as a leadership development specialist have taught me that we all have the potential to be effective leaders and, through the wisdom of coaching, we can unlock that potential.
Speaking of disruption, CoachHub is a predominantly digital channel that innovates itself as time permits. What do you think are the advantages of this medium compared to traditional consultancy?
Operating on a digital platform makes coaching more accessible to all. CoachHub’s learning library is constantly expanding with time, and we’re getting better and better as we continue our period of growth. Traditional face-to-face coaching is also brilliant, if you are able to access it. The advantage of a digital medium is that, in addition to reaching more people, we have the power to constantly try new things and really personalise our services to each individual client.
CoachHub aims to democratise coaching for all career levels. In a similar vein, you’ve spoken about wanting to liberate greatness in all people and organisations. In terms of the coaching handbook, have any of your views or methods changed in response to the “new normal”?
While much has changed during the pandemic, the fundamental principles of coaching remain true even in the new hybrid or digital working environments. Regardless of career level, there is still undiscovered potential within all of us. With the right coaching skills and tools, people’s unique talents and aspirations can really shine through. That makes a world of difference to organisations that are struggling to adapt to new ways of working.
Do you think that business leaders are facing something fundamentally new in the post-COVID world, or can they tackle it using tried and tested approaches?
A combination of both. There will always be challenges that we need to work together to face – whether that be a global health crisis, financial challenges or any other difficult situation that requires teamwork to solve. Obviously COVID-19 has eliminated the ability in some cases to meet face-to-face for collaboration, so creativity and ingenuity are needed to solve similar problems. Even so, traditional methods are still effective in a virtual environment.
What would you say are the essential benefits that coaching will offer in the post-COVID environment?
Everyone needs to feel supported in their individual journeys. One of the biggest challenges in a virtual workplace environment is making each member of the team feel seen and heard, as well as allowing unique characteristics and personality traits to shine through. Sometimes these things can be difficult to convey on a screen, so we need to put in effort to make sure we are checking in with our colleagues. The post-pandemic world is full of opportunities; people have had time to think on their dreams and aspirations, and have realised that they actually do have the tools to reach for those goals. Coaching is the key to uncovering the path that will take them there.
Your company has offices set up in over 70 countries across six continents, with a generous number of business coaches at your disposal. How do you seamlessly adapt your coaching expertise in response to the varied needs or situations of different clients today?
We aim to build strong relationships and facilitate open communication with our clients around the globe. Communication really is the most important aspect of the coaching process. Members of our Coaching Lab are located on almost every continent, and are aware of the unique challenges that our clients are facing based on their geographic regions. We are also constantly collaborating with world-renowned research institutions to research and update our learning library in accordance with new developments in the field.
Given the increasingly digital landscape of a post-pandemic world, the field of digital coaching and behaviour change is quickly evolving with it. Has CoachHub taken steps to leverage this transition for their systemic coaching?
Absolutely. One of the things that I have noticed immediately about CoachHub is the company’s incredible focus on creating solutions that will stand the test of time. Through our coaching platform, we are able to adapt our methods to anything that might come our way. That is the beauty of using a digital platform: we are able to constantly evolve and grow to meet today’s challenges, which will in turn help prepare for whatever tomorrow might bring.
Prior to joining the company, you already had over 10 years’ experience in leadership development under your belt. What are you hoping to achieve in this new chapter of your career?
I look forward to seeing a day when coaching is available to all, and I believe that day is coming soon! Throughout my career as a leadership coach, I have seen such monumental changes in our field that have really made a difference to people’s lives. I’m hoping to continue learning new things and helping people achieve their goals in this new digital environment that we find ourselves in.
In the event of another crisis in the future, how would CoachHub handle it?
CoachHub’s team of researchers are highly skilled, and ready for any new crisis that might present itself. Our coaches base their techniques on current research and are constantly evolving their methods to present the best possible solutions for clients. One thing that we have learned from the pandemic is that we need to be ready for anything. Coaching is really the best way to prepare for the unexpected, and we will continue to adapt our platform to meet any new challenges that unfold.
With over 15 years experience in leadership development across the globe, designing, developing, facilitating, and coaching across the leadership pipeline, Windy Tshepiso Maledu is passionate about coaching, leadership and behavioural change. As a Senior Behavioural Scientist for CoachHub, she helps advance the science of digital coaching and behaviour change at scale in CoachHub’s Coaching Lab. Windy helps organisations worldwide to effectively design, implement and evaluate their coaching programmes. As a coach she continues to impact lives one coaching conversation at a time.