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January 20, 2021 by Henley Leadership Group

Meet Our Team: Colleen Yamaguchi

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This is part of our "Meet the Team" series. We post these interviews periodically.

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

A: Looking at a career transition after successfully practicing law for over 20 years, I realized I was passionate about leadership development as what I loved most about practicing law was leading high performing teams and working across functions, gender, and cultures.  Also, I'd been involved on the board of a non-profit that provided culturally-tailored leadership development for multi-ethnic professionals. That passion was confirmed after taking Leadership that Shapes the Future as part of a UW executive series seminar.  I was then introduced to a lawyer who had transitioned to leadership coaching and it led to my pursuing a coaching certification at the Hudson Institute of Coaching and the rest is history!

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

A: I've had this happen a few times:  seeing clients, especially women and people of color, experience a breakthrough where they see, feel, and step into their authentic leadership.  It expands their sense of what is possible for them.  One female Director of a large telecommunications company, who had started off being skeptical about coaching, told me I'd changed her life (she grew not only as a leader in her organization but as a leader in her church community) and that she tells everyone they should do coaching if they are lucky enough to have the opportunity.  Today I had a young woman of color leader, who is an immigrant and overcame economic challenges growing up, use the word "goosebumps" and "breakthrough" as, after our work exploring where her passions and leadership philosophy come from, she suddenly had a vision of herself owning her leadership and someday giving a keynote speech about her authentic leadership to inspire others.  For me, it doesn't get better than that.

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

A: So many things -- the collaborative spirit and opportunities, extending and cultivating trust excellence, humor, and joy.  What stands out to me is the underlying walking the talk. For a leadership organization, the work to create a culture of high trust, engagement, learning, and especially belonging is rare.  And laughter.  Always laughter.

 Q: How are you developing yourself as a leader?

A: I'm committed to continuous learning (training, books, podcasts, coach supervision, and more) and also trying to walk the talk of stretching out of my comfort zone, being more mindful and strategic about the kind of work I do, and continuing to focus on impact and creating more of that.

 Q: What are you reading right now?

A: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

Q: What’s making you happy this week?

A: Celebrating this momentous inauguration, particularly savoring the swearing-in of Kamala Harris by Justice Sotomayor on the Bible of Thurgood Marshall.  Goosebumps.

You can learn more about Colleen here . . . 

Photo Credit:  Ingrid Pape-Sheldon

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