Transitioning from being an employee to an entrepreneur is never easy, but Maxine Barnett makes it seem not only possible but also easy. Maxine is the Founder and Principal Executive and Career Coach of Soft Skills Services, an organization dedicated to helping leaders hone their soft skills to achieve their leadership and business goals. A former corporate executive, she provides her clients with the tools to sharpen their visual, verbal, non-verbal, behavioral, and cultural competency.
In a chat with GLEAC, Maxine spoke about the life of a coach and why coaching has just arrived and is here to stay. Take a look!
GLEAC: Who do you have to thank for a decision that you made that got you where you are today?
Maxine: Gordon Draper (now deceased). He was a former University lecturer who eventually became a Senator and Minister of Government after his job as an executive. Gordon was my first boss in my first private sector job. He was a leader ahead of his time who allowed me to grow, be innovative, and try new approaches. Working with Gordon, my career in HR/OD grew exponentially and formed the foundation for where I am today as an Executive Coach. Looking back, he was not only my boss, but he was also my first Mentor.
GLEAC: If a future version of yourself had to thank you for something you are doing right now, what would it be for?
Maxine: Mentoring and coaching! I am a mentor at heart, stretching out a hand to help others to learn from my experience. I think I have had very good mentors – both male and female. Two phenomenal women of substance were my mentors over the years – Diana Mahabir-Wyatt and Grace Talma. Both these inspiring women founded their own consulting firms after working in corporate. I did the same after I stepped out of corporate and founded Maxine Barnett Consulting & Coaching and then Soft Skills Services LLC.
GLEAC: What is your superpower soft skill? How do you use it in your job in your sector?
Maxine: Listening with empathy coupled with confidentiality as well as networking and connecting with others. I always enjoy and gain from nurturing relationships and connecting people with each other. Listening is essential. if I do not actively listen, I will not be able to do the job of a Coach. Networking is not only important for me as I build relationships and create my own network but also to help persons whom I coach, especially leaders, connect and develop their networks.
GLEAC: What hard skills and soft skills are needed for your job?
Maxine: As a Coach, some essential hard skills include the ability to ask the questions that will help the client discover and make the best choices. Also, the knowledge and application of tools will help the client in self-discovery and self-awareness. Some soft skills include listening to what is said and what is not being said as well as the ability to help the person discover and explore their strengths and areas for improvement and change.
GLEAC: With all the changes happening in the world, is your sector going to survive, and if yes, why?
Maxine: Coaching is needed more than ever now in this changing world. As the World of work continues to change, Coaches are even more in demand as help is needed by persons at all levels to navigate this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. Coaching offers a flexibility that other sectors may not be able to offer, both in person and virtual although virtual has become more attractive as it saves time and money as one can coach in different parts of the world without moving. Coaching can meet the Client right where he/she is. Now that the world of work is changing, leaders and team members alike need coaching even more in times of transition or crisis. A Coach also serves as a sounding board, a thinking or strategy partner, an accountability partner.
GLEAC: Which are the 3 must-have soft skills for newbies looking to enter your sector?
Maxine: Active listening, flexibility and adaptability, and knowledge of human behavior!
GLEAC: Are there any soft skills you need to work on to better yourself?
Maxine: I believe in continuous improvement and as a Coach, I am constantly working on self-awareness as I continue to grow.
GLEAC: What is the one learning of your professional journey you would like to share with the world?
Maxine: Develop a learning mindset…never stop learning. Reset, refresh and continue to learn new things.
GLEAC: Work in your sector can get rigorous. How do you keep up the mojo?
Maxine: Work-life balance is important to me. Self-care is essential….care of my physical, emotional/social, mental, and spiritual self. Apart from the ongoing maintenance of these 4 pillars, I often make time to reset and recharge.
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