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  • Conor O’Malley

A year in review – two Ontological Coaching semesters done, one to go!

By Conor O’Malley


At the end of last year Conor graduated from the Certified Ontological Coaching Program (COCLP), gaining his ICF Professional Certified Coach certification as well as a Graduate Diploma. On completing the second semester of the three-semester 18-month program Conor acted on the advice of Mark LeBusque1 to write a review of his development since he left the corporate world just before he commenced COCLP in July 2017. Here are Conor’s comments on the significant changes he made in important aspects of his Way of Being and relationships, as well as developing his coaching practice and his approach to leadership development.

Changing my life circumstances

From leaving leadership in the supply chain and logistics world, which is ostensibly all I have done career wise since 1988 when I left University, to becoming a coach, mentor and leadership facilitator, supporting others make wise choices – quite a year.

I have created a personal maxim of ‘making wise choices’ and professionally using it as a framework and methodology for those I work with to support them ‘make wise choices’ for themselves.

Observe | Choose | Act. If nothing else these three words and ‘sentence’ are the outcome from a year of change, learning and personal growth.

A year of change? Absolutely. I can say I am more satisfied ‘with my lot’ in life both personally in my relationships and professionally by coming to realise (albeit a little late) that you define your own success, it is not defined for you by others. We write our narrative in our own listening to our emotions, our body and the dialogue in our heads. Success is not linear and it is certainly not defined by the ‘pips on your shoulder’ – it is more how you are true to yourself and those around you. It is this that enables me to support those I work with every day.

Personal growth

Personal growth? For sure. Going back to being a learner and allowing myself to be ‘taught’. Understanding how I am as a learner by learning to observe myself, my surroundings, how and why I make the choices I do and how I choose to take the action I do. Finally, knowing and feeling what I say is a conscious, and responsible choice, taking into account the actual words I use and how I think about the type of conversation I am having and going to have.

Reflections on coaching

I wrote an article earlier in the year entitled “Is coaching a profession?” A profession refers to “an occupation, usually full time, and involving academic training, formal qualifications and membership of a professional regulatory body that confers professional status upon its members.” 2.

In my view, after a year working in the coaching industry (let’s call it and industry), it certainly is a profession, even if it doesn’t reach the bar set by Hamlin, Ellinger and Beattie in the statement above. However, in my view, it still lacks a high enough bar to entry that needs addressing, especially in the Executive coaching and Career coaching sector, where results matter. As in any business, which coaching is, there needs to be a clearly defined outcome and return on the investment made by the person or business paying for the service. That outcome (result) can be different in every circumstance and may evolve as the programme continues, however the outcome has to meet ‘the unmet needs of a person paying for the service’3. In my view it is critical that for the coaching industry to be seen as a well-regarded profession by the purchasers (and possibly more importantly, potential purchasers who are skeptical of the value), it needs to have a clearer value proposition and part of that is those providing the service being qualified to deliver.

Why write the above two paragraphs in my ‘year in review’ article? I believe in the requirement to be qualified in this field and as such I am studying Ontological Coaching through the Newfield Institute4 lead by Alan Sieler.5 This learning journey has enabled me to be in a ‘way of being’ that has allowed me to be humble and curious, arguably the two key attributes to being a high performing coach. My thanks to Peter Hislop6 for sharing this insight with me and for enhancing my learning with the book “Humble Consulting” by Edgar H. Schein7.

It is this learning journey that is helping transform my own ‘way of being’ and become a qualified professional in the industry. This is, I believe (in part) supporting others learn and make wise choices as well as enabling my Practice to deliver the ‘unmet needs’ of the marketplace I serve.

Building my leadership development and coaching practice

My Practice will have my name ‘above the door’ in October, which is a learning from The Thought Leaders Business School8. I am not following their program per se, however having been introduced to it by a mentor there, Rohan Dredge9 I am very grateful to learn the distinction between a Practice and a Business.

More and more I find that being a leader in today’s ever increasingly complex and pressured business world that leaders have less time to reflect to deliver the outcomes they seek of themselves and their teams.

It is a privilege to provide that time for those I work with, be it leadership or career transition coaching, to then use their learning to make wise choices to get things done more effectively, that also looks after their own wellbeing.

As the language of leadership becomes more one of inclusivity I believe there is a need for leaders to be more emotionally aware. This has only been reinforced for me through my work as a mentor with women leaders as part of my work with NAWO.11 In my view, it is critical to use this awareness to deliver ‘the what’ through a different ‘how’. The work I am doing, I believe, helps leaders do this by becoming more in touch with their emotions and physiology to help them make more informed choices and take appropriate action thereafter.

It has been quite a year and I go into year two with deep ambition and wonder about how it will turn out.


I would like to thank all those who have supported my journey over these last 12 months, especially my fellow Ontological Coaching colleagues, my first pro bono client, my first private full paying client and my first ‘corporate’ client (you all know who you are) and most of all to those who say I have supported their journey.

Finally, a big thank you to Ant Youds10 for introducing me to Ontology at the beginning of this new year and also to Paula, my wife, for being with me on this journey through all its ups and downs.

Conor O’Malley can be contacted at and his website is


  1. Robert G Hamlin, Andrea D. Ellinger and Rona S Beattie, Toward a Profession of Coaching? A Definitional Examination of ‘Coaching’, ‘Organization Development’ and ‘Human Resource Development.” International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring. Vol. 7, No.1, February 2009, p. 14.


  3. Humble Consulting, Edgar H.Schein


  5. NAWO

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