Member Spotlight: Growth as a Leader is Not Just Upwards, but Inwards
At BetterUp, we believe that becoming our best selves stems from developing our whole selves. In our work with members, we often hear that while many have found career success, they still feel like something is missing. This isn’t surprising. Each of us are multi-faceted individuals, with changing needs and priorities at different moments in time.
Understanding ourselves, clarifying what is most important to us, and aligning our decisions and behaviors with those things is key to continuing to grow and develop. That’s why we take a ‘whole person’ approach to coaching, meeting members where they are, helping them understand and clarify their most meaningful goals, and guiding them in their development
A little over a year ago, Catherine Gacad, Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology and Partnerships at Wells Fargo, reached out to BetterUp for coaching. While she had experienced great success in her career, becoming an award-winning financial services leader and successful real estate investor and developer, she didn’t feel fulfilled. Catherine was looking for a coach who could help her better understand what was missing and develop those parts of herself that would help her create greater peace and meaning in her life.
Using the whole person approach, Catherine’s coach helped her look beyond the accolades and identify what she needed and wanted at this time in her life, and how to develop the skills that would help her reach her goals. I sat down with Catherine to learn more about her experiences with coaching, and how she has worked to develop herself as a leader and a person.
You have experienced a lot of success in your career. How did you realize that something was missing for you?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been focused on achieving. I’m the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines and my mother put a high emphasis on taking advantage of all the opportunities this country has to offer in terms of education and employment. I internalized this message from a very young age, and have worked very hard to achieve, graduating at the top of my class, moving up quickly in my career, and taking on more and more.
I got to a point a few years ago where I was tired of pushing myself to constantly do more. I didn’t feel peace inside or good emotionally, and I needed to take a step back and look inside myself.
Why did you decide to work with a coach?
I’m a big believer in coaching and self-improvement. I had worked with a great coach in the past, but it was hard to sustain given my budget. I found BetterUp, which made it affordable for me to work with a coach consistently. Their coaches also have highly credentialed backgrounds and education, which was important to me.
What did you focus on in coaching and how did your coach help?
At the beginning of coaching, my coach helped me find the words to reflect my true goal—which was to create inner peace. She has worked with me to stay focused on this goal and make decisions and choices that are aligned with my values. Every time I start to focus on a promotion or a new job, she takes us a step back and centers me on my vision of inner peace. Does this action align with and support my goal? In the past, I would have jumped on opportunities—now I make decisions with my most important goals and values in mind.
My coach also holds me accountable to my goals. For example, I’ve become more aware of how much I am strengthened by relationships. Those connections bring me comfort and joy and help me feel less alone. I made a goal to make three in-person connections every single week, and my coach helps me stay on track.
How has coaching had an impact on you as a business leader?
As I’ve grown in my career, there has been a shift in the way I view my role. When I was younger, my focus was on fulfilling responsibilities, getting the work done, and making my boss proud of me. Now, as a senior executive, I have an opportunity to be a role model for everyone I work with and support others in their growth.
My coach has helped me become the leader I want to be. I am developing myself as a whole person, which strengthens me as both a leader and a person. I’ve learned to think differently about problems and challenges in ways that empower myself and others.
If there are issues at work, she will help me take it out of the mundane and look at the bigger picture. I ask myself, “How can I grow from both negative and positive experiences?” and “What can I learn from that problem?” I have moved from a micro-focused mindset of ‘what am I supposed to do’ to a macro community mindset of ‘how can I lift up others?’
One of the biggest ways I’ve grown is how I communicate as a manager. Working with my coach has helped me develop my own inner coach. Instead of trying to solve my team’s problems, I focus more on helping them find their own answers and build on their strengths.
Do you have any insights from coaching that you think might be helpful for others?
I’ve learned that the answers to our biggest questions are within ourselves. Coaching creates the space and support for helping to draw those out.
I encourage everyone, no matter where you are in your career, to find those sources of support and accountability. Knowing and developing our whole selves—beyond just the achievements we pursue—is the key to creating greater fulfillment, growing as a person, and finding your inner peace.