Coach Interview Series: Javier Llerena

by Brandon

Javier Llerena

Executive Leadership Coach

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Javier Llerena. Javier is an Executive Leadership Coach based in San Jose, California.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Javier: I do leadership development for mid-level managers and their teams. I work with brand new managers as well as experienced managers. Either their team is not performing or they want to get their team to the next level. I work with them in improving that by doing team coaching, as well.

NCA: What initially got you interested in this career path and what kind of degree or certifications did you need to complete, if any?

Javier: I was in the corporate world for over 20 years. I was in sales management at that time and I had multiple roles in sales and I managed sales teams. In a lot of the companies that I worked for, I was becoming more of a therapist. Instead of being a sales manager and working with them for sales performance, I was becoming more of a mentor to my team and developing them into better people.

I was doing more coaching than the traditional sales management approach, and I felt that it was a good fit for me. I was doing it without realizing that I was doing it. From there I’m like, “Okay, this is something that I should get into because I am passionate about it. I love helping individuals reach their goals and where they want to be in life.” I decided to make it full time.

As coaches, we shouldn’t feel pressure to know all the answers and feel the need to be experts. What we need to do is to be able to ask the right questions at the right time in order to create that conversation with a client.

NCA: In working with your clients, what would you say is the most rewarding part of that process and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Javier: The most rewarding part for me is seeing your client excel. Seeing them making that quantum leap in their lives. I think that’s very rewarding when you see a client moving forward so rapidly and excelling.

The most challenging part for me as a coach is trying to communicate the true meaning of a coach. I think a lot of people get the coaching definition wrong. They’re saying we are consultants or we are advisors or we have all the answers or in some cases that we are therapists. It’s challenging to be able to communicate that in an efficient way so the clients understand, “Hey, this is what I’m getting. I’m getting someone who’s going to support me and my growth. Not necessarily who’s going to have all the answers that I’m looking for but he’s going to help me bring awareness to what I am dealing with.” I think that’s the most difficult part.

NCA: One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?

Javier: Your life is a testimony of the experiences that you have as a coach and thus, whatever years you have, that’s more valuable than anything else. Just your life experiences and how you deal with them.

As coaches, we shouldn’t feel pressure to know all the answers and feel the need to be experts. What we need to do is to be able to ask the right questions at the right time in order to create that conversation with a client. That’s what I will tell brand new coaches. Don’t think so much that you need to have X amount of years in a particular field. Take consideration that you have a lot of life experience and at the same time, think about creating those questions for your client that will create that awareness. That’s key.

From there, life gives you more experiences as you are practicing as a coach. There are more life experiences you add to your resume. Keep learning, keep listening and keep coaching.

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