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James Clark

Associate Director

Bath, UK

James Clark

Work history

James has a distinguished diplomatic career in the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, having served on the board – and leading one of the business units – of FCO Services, a large public sector service organisation which was contemplating a radical transformation of its business, including a move to Agency status. After personal success with having an executive coach when leading transformational change at work, he decided to qualify as a coach in 2005. He went on to define and implement good coaching practice in the FCO more widely, including designing and delivering coaching skills training for an internal cadre of coaches. In parallel, he enjoyed a successful diplomatic career, including periods living and working in the US, Luxembourg (as British Ambassador), Germany, Belgium and Egypt, as well as in the UK.

As a senior diplomat, James gained experience in negotiation skills, economic & political reporting and analysis, trade & investment promotion, and media & communications work. James also held leadership roles in operations and in corporate service delivery, building experience in leading organisations through change, and in communicating that change both internally and with customers; and experiencing first-hand many of the pressures leaders today face.

For the past 10 years, he has worked independently as a coach, trainer, and facilitator, working with individuals, groups and leadership teams in diverse organisations spanning the private, public, educational and charity sectors; and in tech industry start-ups. He divides his practice between executive coaching (individual and team); supervision & mentor-coaching; and certification training for coaches.

Consulting, coaching and facilitation approach

An important focus of James’s current practice is helping people and organisations thrive in times of profound change. Complexity and unpredictability, it seems, are no longer markers of a crisis or disaster; it’s simply the way many things now are. Navigating this landscape effectively needs more than just skill and experience. It demands a different kind of engagement; which in turn demands that leaders – and those who support them – remain resilient and resourceful. For James, personal congruence and self-leadership provide a powerful foundation for this resilience; and they are at the heart of his coaching and supervision work. As a trainer and facilitator, James creates a lively and ‘hands-on’ experience, combining lots of skills practice, observation and feedback for participants, live demonstrations (e.g. of coaching skills), and discussions of the material that’s being introduced. In committing to coaching, you create a space and time “off the pitch” to review, reflect, learn, and plan. What really creates value, however, is that it’s a space that’s shared with an experienced professional who will ensure you use that time to maximum advantage. In terms of style, clients find James calm, centred, and focused. His coaching approach combines directness and challenge with lightness, warmth and humour. He takes the same approach when coaching leadership teams, working flexibly and ‘in the moment’, in partnership with the team, with the key issues which emerge. When coaching teams, he uses a thorough diagnostic process, before any coaching begins, to bring clarity on the team’s needs and opportunity for the team to establish clearly what it is that they want from the process; and what return on investment they expect.