(206) 686-4400 ext. 13

(206) 686-4400 ext. 13

Henley Leadership Group Blog

Meet Our Coaches: Derek Olsen

This is part of our "Meet Our Coaches" series. We will post these interviews periodically.   Learn more about all of our Leadership Coaches on our Meet the Team page.

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Q: Tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be a leadership coach:

A:  During a meeting in March 2003 with a group of a dozen peers learning to live sober, my behavior became the topic of discussion. I was surprised to learn how the others perceived me. In that moment, I realized what I discovered about myself was determined by how I engaged with the other participants. It was the dynamics of the group, how I related to the other members and how they related to me, which provided the most profound opportunities for self-awareness, growth and change. They “held up the mirror” for me to see myself in unfamiliar ways. The group facilitators did not make that work happen; instead they showed us how to create the safety to allow the work to happen. That was their invaluable gift to me. I knew then I would work with groups and teams to help create environments for people to become their best versions of themselves. Over the next five years, this idea eventually evolved into leadership coaching and facilitation.

Q: What is one of the most memorable moments in your coaching career?

A:  During the closing of an off-site retreat with 30 or so leaders, each participant shared with the group what they got out of spending a few days discussing the courage it takes to be authentic, vulnerable and accountable. One man shared that up until that very moment, he had kept his homosexuality a secret at work. He chose the courage to be himself and be fully integrated in all areas of his life. I cried then, and still tear up now thinking about it.

 Q: What's your favorite thing about working at Henley Leadership Group?

A: Our work at HLG supports people who are willing to transform their leadership and thus their lives. Being a partner and a witness to such profound experiences is a great honor and privilege. All of us on the team have our own stories of failure, humility, transformation, and redemption. We are committed to our ongoing learning and growth. That’s what makes us who we are, and why we love each other, and love what we do so much.

At the heart of our work is the belief that: Everyone has inherent, unique gifts. Our work is to recognize it, nurture it, and share it boldly. We also have ways in which we undermine or minimize our own gifts. Our work is to also recognize that and share about it boldly!

 Q: How are you developing yourself as a leader?

A: I’m naturally easy-going and compliant, so my development as a leader is to be more assertive, more direct, and willing to allow upsets when necessary. As one friend once advised me: “Make a fuss!” Specifically with clients, my development is to keep stretching myself in terms of how much I’m willing share about who I am and how I got to where I am.

 Q: What are you reading right now?

A:  For work: The Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam  For pleasure: Endurance by Scott Kelly

Q: What’s making you happy this week?

A:  I recently returned from a weeklong spiritual retreat near Rocky Mountain Park, Colorado with friends. So life is good.

You can learn more about Derek here  . . .