Nigel Singer

  • Nigel Singer

    External Coach

    Coaching at the University of Bristol

    As people become more senior in organisations they can also become more isolated and with a greater need to ‘get it right’. Overstretched, high demand from above, inconsistent competence amongst your staff, a boss who doesn’t support you, feeling isolated.

    This can lead you into firefighting mode, strategic thinking disappears, you are spending all of your time dealing with problems rather than helping create effective change. The consequence of this is negative stress, working excessive hours, uncertainty around some issues and a lack of reflective time to plan and consider the issues that are draining you.

    For senior people there are few places where you can talk in depth about the issues that concern you and what to do about them.

    As a coach, I work with you to your agenda, supporting you in being creative and reflective about your work. I provide a place for you to say, 'Oh no, I don't know what to do' and to then work out what action to take. I also will help you to do the things that you do well, even better.

    The process is confidential, challenging, supportive and creative. I help you build understanding and a development of your leadership style and this will help you to support yourself, your staff and when necessary your boss.

    Within my professional life I have trained in various disciplines, starting with Creative Listening; taught to me starting in 1983 by the wonderful and challenging Rachel Pinney, who developed it. I studied in Aikido for 13 years and use its principles and some of the physical practice within my work. I trined as a coach with John Whitmore and I have also been a student of Process Oriented Psychology for over 15 years which has supported me with both considerable personal development and in drawing different strands of my experience together.

    On a personal note, I was a foster carer and this brought me into contact with Attachment Theory and its consequences which impact on many of our challenging situations. As a carer I was pushed into places where I felt incompetent and unsure about what to do and how to behave. There were times when I became absolutely hooked into negative spirals and needed the help of another person to get out of the loop. Although uncomfortable, these experiences enriched and supported me as well as, I hope, improving my working practices.

    One of my strengths is that I have the ability to make most people feel quickly at ease and to move from there to offer challenge in ways that stimulate rather than constrain. I have lots of optimism, usually balanced by realism, and a belief in our ability to find a way through the issues that trouble us. My approach is always changing and developing, usually getting simpler – I’m interested in getting to the heart of a process and removing the ‘fuzz’ that surrounds an idea.

    Underpinning all of my work and approach is the concept that the greater the amount of awareness we can bring into our own lives and their circumstances, the more thoughtfully and ably we will act and the more whole and genuine we will become.

    I believe that we all sometimes need help and support and that many of us are reluctant to ask for this – it may show us as inadequate or not totally able. I am prepared to take risks, to model my expectations and to step out of my comfort zone; this, I hope, will support you in doing the same. I also receive supervision and regularly ask other people for help.

    What is coaching?

    Coaching uses skilful questioning through which an individual can increase their awareness around a particular topic and generate greater responsibility in dealing with an issue.

    Each coaching relationship is different, as it is dependent upon the two individuals. As the coach I will try to create a safe and also challenging environment for the HOD, enabling them to look at the issues that are difficult for them. Sometimes my role feels as if it is about allowing the HOD to have some 'time out' - short period of reflection and thoughtfulness to think about where they are and what is going on for them.

    Although I was trained in coaching by an organisation called Performance Consultants, I bring a wide array of other approaches to my work. The area that I find useful most often is my background in conflict resolution.

    I am always happy to discuss coaching and its applications and possibilities and would welcome any questions or dialogue.

    "My experience as Head of Division is that senior academics soak up a lot of stress and anxiety from their juniors, but have no means of airing their own problems and anxieties. My meetings with Nigel were a breath of fresh air and helped me both to re-orientate myself professionally and to achieve better integration of my home and work life." - Edwin Gale

    "Management coaching was an invaluable experience for me because the interaction with Mr Singer was so precisely focused. This focus was on how central emotion is to the way that people think, and how this insight can be put to practical use in University management." - Terrell Carver

    "Nigel has a clear, sophisticated and focused intelligence, which enabled him to grasp the problems I raised immediately and discuss them with me at a level appropriate to the way I work as an academic." Ann Simon

    All quotations used with permission.

    Nigel Singer