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13 May 2020 311
Developing Mindsets Community Integration

Coaching is the Business! Müller Director Inspired By ‘Remarkable’ Coaching Community

The Strategy and Marketing Director of one of Britain’s biggest dairy brands reveals how coaching has enriched his life. He tells UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching Emma Atkins that he has been overwhelmed by the “passion and positivity” of the coaching family, and thrilled by the collection of key skills he has developed that he has been able to transfer to the workplace

As Strategy and Marketing Director of Müller, Michael Inpong is accustomed to keeping people on their toes.

What a lot of people don’t know is that, out of office hours and beyond the office walls, you will often find him doing the very same thing, in a literal sense.

Michael developed an affinity with athletics after helping spearhead Müller’s partnership with British Athletics, and these days he is equally at home motivating, mentoring and guiding children on an athletics track as he is supporting his employees in a business setting.

An avid sportsman – he is a former Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation UK national champion – Michael has completed his Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Award (Level 1 and Level 2 in old money) and at the end of a busy day, enjoys nothing more than swapping his suit for a tracksuit and polished work shoes for a comfortable pair of running trainers.

You leave the office, remove the suit, get into a tracksuit, put cones on the floor, gets kids and athletes excited and run a session. It is an incredibly rewarding personal experience which, from a mental well-being perspective, is very rich.”

Hooked on coaching

Michael tells me he became fascinated with the sport soon after he embarked on his Coaching Assistant course, but it was on joining his local athletics club, Shrewsbury AC, that he fell in love with coaching – hook line and sinker!

He was thrilled at the enlivening sense of community and camaraderie he witnessed, and the positive feel-good factor that rubbed off on all concerned.

I loved it. I loved learning and I loved the people that I met when I first started helping at my local club. The generosity of the people within the coaching community was very inspiring to me.”

And Michael has never looked back since, showing the same voracious appetite for learning on his coaching adventure as in his business career. 

Supported and encouraged by a number of his fellow coaches, it was Ian Allport, Michael recalls, who provided him with the stimulus to enhance his coaching credentials by enrolling on the Athletics Coach programme. After lots of preparation and hard work, he successfully completed the qualification in March this year. 

He finds the more time he spends with club members, the more it reinforces his belief in the transformative impact of coaching on people’s lives.

And in these current times – when face-to-face contact has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic – Michael says the roles of community, generosity and solidarity are more fundamental than ever. 

Coaches at every level demonstrate a tremendous amount of generosity, positivity and desire to give and transmit,” he says. “It is very inspiring and very powerful. It is a community that you want to contribute to and be part of. 

“You are learning every day and you feel good about yourself because you know you are contributing to the local community and the athletes you work with.

“And while the current situation that the world is going through is extreme, in more regular times, you still see wonderful acts from coaches and communities every single week.

“Monday night 6 o’clock to 8 o’clock. It might be cold – zero degrees even – but the coaches show up and everyone benefits from it. Everyone is committed and it is remarkable. It really is inspiring to see how unselfish it is.”

 

‘The three things I’ve learnt’

The sheer passion and positivity of volunteers, and the tremendous knock-on effect this can have on the physical, social, emotional and psychological well-being of both participant and coach, has been a valuable lesson in Michael’s voyage of self-discovery, but it is by no means the only thing he has learnt. 

In fact, the element of self-development and personal well-being – “you transmit positivity and it balances you out,” he says – is just one of three “big things” Michael has picked up along the way. 

The second has been the realisation that the strengths and attributes you develop from being a coach are easily transferable to a working environment. In other words, coaching is great for business!

On the face of it, the business and coaching sectors appear to be worlds apart. As different as apples and oranges. In actual fact, there are more similarities than you think and you can take a number of coaching skills and use them seamlessly in a work environment.

Take the awareness of unselfish generous behaviour Michael has already spoken of, including such coaching attributes as passion and the unconditional motivation to contribute and build empathetic, supportive relationships: “These are behaviours that you can take into many aspects of your life, including business,” says Michael.

Being ‘athlete-centred’, for example, is pretty much the same as being ‘employee-centred’. You can apply this anywhere. It is a guiding principle which is really powerful and underpins great success. 

“As we know, the biggest asset for any company is the people. If tomorrow, a facility was to disappear you can rebuild that; but if tomorrow, you lose all the people, you cannot rebuild.”

 

The third thing that has given Michael such a rewarding sense of accomplishment on his personal coaching journey is the opportunity to exist in such a vibrant learning environment and to be able to teach a new skill

“I am fascinated by a lifelong journey of learning. Athletics was never my sport but, being an assistant coach and being taught by someone was an enjoyable experience. And now being able to use that learning to contribute myself. It’s gratifying.”

Combine these three elements and you see why coaching is such an incredible force for good. By helping others, at the same time you are helping yourself, increasing your self-worth and self-confidence. 

As Michael summarises: “The feeling that you are learning – the feeling that you are contributing to society – and learning transferable skills to use in other aspects of your life, is wonderful.”

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