Leadership Interview: Hans Augusteijn ‘My Coaching Journey’

We follow the fortunes of a senior leader in Northern Europe over a three year period as he learns and applies his newly acquired coaching skills and ends up a senior director spreading the coaching gospel to his direct report leaders.

Hans Augusteijn

I first started working with the Top Team at Maersk Northern Europe Liner Operations Cluster (NEULOC) in Rotterdam when I visited them to kick off the Coaching Master Class program in December 2012. At that time Hans Augusteijn was a Senior General Manager, a member of the senior management team and starting out on his coaching journey. Here he reflects on that journey three years on. What has he learned along the way? What can we learn from his experiences?

Trevor: “How, when and why did you get started as a leadership coach”?

Hans: “I got introduced through a course for all senior leaders in our organisation – this was some 3 years ago at a stage where I had a limited number of direct reports and wanted to work on my leadership – a good time to get introduced”.

Trevor: “What was your mind-set and attitude towards coaching as a business tool at that time?”

Hans: “Looking back I just didn’t really get it – was probably a bit too focused on the tool in front of me instead of the general philosophy of me as leader being a coach”.

Trevor: “What were your personal goals as you set out on your coaching journey”?

Hans: “As mentioned, I had limited leadership experience and saw this as a tool to help me – not realising it’s actually a leadership mind-set rather than anything else”.

Trevor: “What were your coaching priorities for your direct reports at that time – performance, development or both”?

Hans: “Both” 🙂

Trevor: “How were you held accountable by your manager for coaching success (or how you held yourself accountable)”?

Hans: “Not really – my manager was role modelling coaching as well, but it was my role as leader to use the tools and improve myself”.

Trevor: “How did you integrate coaching into other programs and initiatives”?

Hans: “I was very lucky to get some extensive coaching myself from a mentor, and this made me realise coaching should be my default attitude to any business matter. The problem I have however is that I am inclined to give answers in conversations rather then ask questions – therefore I need to keep developing on this – day in and day out”!

Trevor: “What was your experience of the coaching training you received (for example, Coaching Master Class)”?

Hans: “The training was a great first step – but this was only giving us tools and awareness – hence I moved from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent. The hard work came later”! 🙂

Trevor: “What were the success factors for you and the colleagues who started out on their coaching journey with you”?

Hans: “I don’t think the success factors were so clearly defined – we wanted to become better leaders and used our trainer to provide feedback. Think we could have leveraged each other more earlier on, coaching each other on our success of coaching”.

Trevor: “What did you discover were the core skills, factors and processes for coaching success”?

Hans: “The tools given are great and is like the side wheels when you start cycling – as with everything practice makes perfect and overtime you need to have the skill to ask the right questions following the GROW model without becoming a robot”. 🙂

Trevor: “What were your early achievements from your coaching – what are you particularly proud of”?

Hans: “I was particularly proud of the first meetings where I asked more questions than I gave answers”.

Trevor: “What did you discover about your strengths as a coach”?

Hans: “I think I have the empathy to interact with people”.

Trevor: “What were your early challenges as a coach”?

Hans: “I am too dominant, stubborn, insensitive and impatient to really take time and explore the reality and options in my coaching interactions – I need to keep working on this”!

Trevor: “How do you prepare yourself now for coaching (clarifying the need, creating opportunities and contracting with your direct report coachees)”?


  • “Make sure you have an agenda structure (standard work) that runs like clockwork, making sure the 1:1’s take place”.
  • “Make sure you come on time and are in the zone – don’t be rushed or distracted when coaching starts”.
  • “Create a relaxed environment where individuals feel at ease to really talk”.
  • “Clarify upfront why we have the interaction – define the Goal clearly”.
  • “Never leave the room without the ‘so what’ – the Wrap up”.

Trevor: “How did you use the GROW model as a template when you started out coaching”?

Hans: “I used it in the beginning very rigorously – this made it feel it bit mechanic but you have to go through that”.

Trevor: “How did you use the core tools (purposeful questions, active listening, challenging perceptions & feedback) when you started out coaching”?

Hans: “Pfff – tough one, will skip”.

Trevor: “How do you support and follow up with your direct report coachees”?

Hans: “I have ’coffee’ sessions with them and it’s a great way to check in and hear how the style moves into the organisation and if we are seeing them progressing with the ‘W’ – the way forward. Also I actively review all PDP’s also from my direct reports staff, so we know if the coaching leads into active people development – the more tangible the PDP is the better so we know how we are tracking”!

Trevor: “How do you ensure you are using your coaching time wisely”?

Hans:This is not such a concern – having good coaching conversations normally gives time back as we are clear about what needs to happen and the coachee feels responsible to take the actions forward”.

Trevor: “How do you use feedback in coaching”?

Hans: “I have actually agreed with my direct reports to structure feedback – they want much more of it, so we have now active follow up where we give each other feedback: after joint meetings and we have a fixed agenda point in the 1:1’s where we give each other feedback”.

Trevor: “How have you extended the use of a coaching approach in other areas of your leadership role”?

Hans: “I think every leadership interaction is a coaching opportunity. I take more and more place in project groups and I just have to learn I am not trying to be the clever guy trying to answer all the questions but the one asking them. This goes for all leadership interactions and it’s a hell of a job to keep that in your mind when you busy”!

Trevor: “How do you evaluate the success of your coaching (return on investment, business impact, other)”?

Hans: “The success of my coaching is really that I see my team just more energised and feeling ownership – it’s a vibe more than a metric for me”.

Trevor: “How have you embedded coaching into you daily leadership business rhythms, and if applicable, into those of your team of direct report leaders”?

Hans: “It’s part of the 1:1 structure and my standard work”.

Trevor: “What metrics are you working to yourself, and/or applying to your team of direct report leaders, for coaching success”?

Hans: “I would like to learn more about this, as I have not explicitly created this”.

Trevor: “How would you describe the correlation between performance (yours and your direct reports) and your coaching success”?

Hans: “Super high – no coaching means no real empowerment, means disengagement and managers being bottlenecks – you can’t get a high energy, high performance team without coaching in my view”.

Trevor: “What are you aiming for in terms of future personal development as a leadership coach”?

Hans:I would love to see my direct reports being great coaches – I want to work more explicitly on this so we spread the gospel. Oh yes, I want to have 2016 as the year where I don’t give any answers in the 1:1’s”. 🙂

Hans was promoted to Chief Financial Officer for Northern Europe in September 2014 and Director Procurement in September 2015. LinkedIn Profile.

Further reading – previous Blog Posts:

Further reading in the Coaches Toolkit:

  • Techniques – AIDA Guidelines for Feedback
  • Techniques – GROW Summary
  • Templates – Coaching Preparation
  • Especially for Hans – All Eight Tools!

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Author: Trevor Sherman

Trevor Sherman: Author, Blogger and Coach. What do I do? I develop leadership training material and personal learning modules. I am the owner and operator of this Blog. I coach senior executives for their development and role transition. I am based in Northamptonshire UK and operate globally - in person and through technology.

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