Nicole McDonough has built a career as a leadership coach and an expert using the Enneagram personal growth tool. She works with leaders every day to help them design a life they love. In this episode, we talk about life coaching and understanding the Enneagram and how to use it. We also talk about how we can get the most out of our role as leaders and find time for our personal development.
Nicole McDonough is a life coach and Enneagram consultant, and a wife and a mother. She has a very quiet, unassuming aura about herself. But Nicole has a hidden and ferocious lioness inside of her! She’s the kind of life coach who isn’t afraid to face off and hold you accountable in a loving, caring way.
In this podcast, you will learn about:
- 1:40 Nicole breaks the ice with something fun about her
- 3:04 Nicole talks about her work as a Life Coach and how she got started
- 5:03 Nicole talks about how a Coach must balance when to be passive and when to be assertive
- 6:18 Nicole explains how she came to work with Leaders and Entrepreneurs
- 7:40 What opportunity attracts Nicole to come into a coaching relationship?
- 9:33 Nicole talks about when leaders and entrepreneurs (or anyone) needs a coach
- 11:45 As a coach, Nicole addresses taking the next step when someone has come to the decision that they need the help of a coach
- 13:45 Nicole talks about the Enneagram: what it is and why we should care about it
- 16:35 Nicole talks about the leadership superpower guide and talks about what people can learn from it
- 18:29 Nicole talks about the role of a coach to help someone understand their Enneagram numbers and application in their life and leadership
- 21:11 Nicole discusses the best way to get started understanding your Enneagram
- 22:51 Nicole discusses how to understand and use the Enneagram to help you grow as a leader
- 25:30 Nicole talks about some of her most foundational moments in leadership
- 27:21 Nicole shares her ideas on lessons that everyday leaders miss
- 39:43 What excites Nicole the most these days?
- 42:00 Speed Round
1:40 Nicole breaks the ice with something fun about her
Nicole loves musicals! Whatever musical she is currently into at the moment, she plays the soundtrack from that musical throughout her home. Because of this, her children are into musicals as well. So the quickest way to snap out of a bad mood on a rainy day, with a lot of chores, or grumpy kids, is to put on some great music. This morning she started with the Westside Story soundtrack. She reflects, “It is amazing how a couple of songs can change the whole tone of the house.”
3:04 Nicole talks about her work as a Life Coach and how she got started
Many people what to know the distinction between Life Coaching and therapy. They don’t replace each other, but sometimes they can dovetail nicely together when someone is already in therapy. Sometimes people have had a bad experience in therapy and assume coaching is the same. Therefore, they don’t want to do the work and engage.
The main difference between coaching and therapy is that therapy digs around in the past quite a bit.
In coaching, we believe the person is ready here and now and that they are creative, resourceful, whole, and prepared to set goals and have a vision for who they want to be, how they want to be, and start working towards moving forward. So, it is more future-oriented, goal-oriented, and sometimes feels a bit more empowering.
Nicole’s master’s degree is in Leadership. She has always loved people, team dynamics, and systems that get everyone on board. But the Enneagram is something she came to find after receiving her graduate degree as she felt it was the missing piece. It is a unique, efficient tool that can quickly help people get to the root of a problem and fast-track their personal growth.
5:03 Nicole talks about how a Coach must balance when to be passive and when to be assertive
Trust is the first component of any relationship. As a coach, sometimes you need to suggest a new approach to one that a person has already tried. It needs to be done in kindness. As a mom, a spouse, and a professional, it certainly needs to be done in the proper framework of trust and a professional relationship, even when it is hard. But she wants people to be honest with her, so being kind and honest gives them the best opportunity to grow.
6:18 Nicole explains how she came to work with Leaders and Entrepreneurs
She had worked with lots of people in different stages of their lives.
Men who come to her usually are in a leadership crisis or a transition like a career change. Perhaps a more concrete milestone in their lives.
Women come to her in all different stages; it may be somebody who is an empty nester trying to figure out what is coming in their next season of life or deciding what they are capable of and where they are passionate.
She has also had entrepreneurs come to her, having grown their businesses very quickly. However, they are now managing teams of four, eight, or twelve people with very little managerial training and framework to understand the personalities of the people they manage.
With her academic background, she has a lot of great connections in the world of principals, school leaders, and administrators, which is a complex leadership challenge.
So, Coaching is for anybody who values personal development, excellence, and integrity and has good determination and self-awareness to tackle the work to move forward.
7:40 What opportunity attracts Nicole to come into a coaching relationship?
Nicole always knew she could never do a job that didn’t have variety; she gets antsy and likes challenges, changes, and creativity. It is very fulfilling how every conversation, client, workshop, and team she works with has some new hidden dynamic to uncover and articulate to support.
She loves getting to know new clients. She often finds the most challenging thing people go through personally ends up being something they can genuinely offer out to the world. As Nicole grew up, she was ridiculed as a dreamer because it was not how the world worked. Now that she has been able to coach herself through it, she can help others explore their imagination and reconnect with their dreams.
9:33 Nicole talks about when leaders and entrepreneurs (or anyone) needs a coach
Coaches are needed when someone
- Feels overwhelmed, lacks purpose, or bored,
- Has feelings of not being satisfied or fulfilled with the work they are doing
- Finding themselves unable to separate the urgent things from the essential things
- Being in a constant state of being behind and working their butt off
- They are not fulfilled or feel disconnected
Some couples and business partners come to her for conflict resolution. But unfortunately, not everybody has the tools to navigate conflicts. Instead, they may try to bury it, hope it goes away, or piecemeal together. So there is a need for a good strategy.
When someone knows they need to change something in their life, they don’t know how to make the change required. Such as perfectionism may hold you back, or they are afraid to fail. They’re stuck in a cycle where you know what you could or should be doing, but there is a block. So, anyone stuck in a cycle and sees no way out, whether in a relationship or profession. That would be a good time to bring in a neutral perspective coach with your best interest in mind without investing in the outcome. Of course, you always have friends and family with your best interest at heart, but their help will always be a little biased, slanted or tainted; it’s not neutral.
11:45 As a coach, Nicole addresses taking the next step when someone has come to the decision that they need the help of a coach
Most people who study effective leadership related to self-awareness and emotional intelligence say those two most significant priorities. It includes leaders’ willingness to work on themselves, invest in their personal development, and create a space for the validity of emotional intelligence, not other forms of intelligence.
Those are soft skills that Renee Brown and others teach. There is a fundamental difference between leaders who are willing to say that they are a beginner at this and humble themselves and be ready to say they need support. No one can do it alone, so it is best to nip that myth about asking for help as a weakness because we should be able to do these things alone. It is a myth!
13:45 Nicole talks about the Enneagram: what it is and why we should care about it
Enneagram is an ancient and complicated system. Most personality tests measure behavior, which is external, how things come out of us, and the way we behave. The Enneagram measures our motivation, which is internal, far more profound, and much more personal. If we have a clear sense of the triggers behind the behavior, we will be able to make bigger and far more long-lasting changes because we are dealing with the internal root issue and not the external bandaid.
She explains Enneagram as a map with nine different starting points. There are nine different personality types based on various groupings of three within psychology and ego structures. All of us evolve into one of those nine types. For example, someone would use the Enneagram to become a healthier and more relaxed version of themselves.
16:35 Nicole talks about the leadership superpower guide and what people can learn from it
The guide outlines the five superpowers related to the leadership of each of the nine types. It concentrates on the positive and is empowering, and lets them see all of the types are equal, and they all bring something unique to the table that no other type brings.
18:29 Nicole talks about the role of a coach to help someone understand their Enneagram numbers and application in their life and leadership
It is common to have a couple of numbers close. The test is automated and isn’t measuring conversation, body language, or speech patterns. Also, the test can only be as accurate as we are self-aware. So, to compensate for this, Nicole has created group typing sessions where there are usually two or four people with who we spend an hour together. They bring their results.
Nicole then asks questions, she listens, she takes notice, and there is a lot more of the quality of the research. If she doesn’t know what type they are by the end of the session, she won’t force it. Instead, she advises them to do research, observe, journal, and then come back with the new information to delve deeper into their identity. It takes a lot of patience, but it is worth sticking with it to land on and discover their type. The process gives them peace of mind to understand why they are the way they are and realize that there isn’t something wrong with them.
21:11 Nicole discusses the best way to get started understanding your Enneagram
It is always best to start at the Enneagram Institute. There is a lot of misinformation about anything trendy, and it is oversimplified. Some people aren’t trained but claim themselves as experts.
Everything is legitimate at Enneagram Institute. The people who work there are qualified. They also have a physical campus and host retreats there. Nicole recommends taking the $12 Enneagram test instead of the free ones.
Next, you can read Nicole’s Leadership Superpower Guide. Also, on Nicole’s website is a link to schedule a typing session.
22:51 Nicole discusses how to understand and use the Enneagram to help you grow as a leader
You have to work through the acceptance part of realization and have radical self-kindness as a starting point. Knowing what type you are, then you can engage in self-compassion. It is okay to be this way. There are two sides to the same coin. A quality might seem negative, but you have to work through it and see the positive side. You can make this type work for you in a positive way. When you become aware of something, you notice it more; you begin to see it everywhere. The more you notice, the more you can pause and make a clear choice.
25:30 Nicole talks about some of her most foundational moments in leadership
Nicole loves watching those who represent and model self-reflection and how valuable that is. Continuing to strengthen that muscle of self-reflection and self-awareness allows you to understand that you can always find a solution.
She is thankful to have grown up in a family with so much trust and safety. You could always laugh about how different you were and talk about personalities and different communication styles. It was a part of their family culture that she thought was a usual way of life for other families. But as she branched out into other professional groups and friend circles, she saw that bringing in compassion and commitment to personal growth can transform any situation.
27:21 Nicole shares her ideas on lessons that everyday leaders miss
There are five essential components to self-care. The first three everyone focuses on are rest, nutrition, and exercise. The other two components that are often left out are connection and play. Many people think of them are extras. In reality, if someone lacks connection or play in their life, they are missing two critical foundational components. Many leaders view these as optional, when the fact is, they are as necessary as the other three components. There is a lot of guilt that comes along with them. But the truth is, if you don’t allow yourself, connection, and play, then you will find yourself quickly burning out. You have to have time to recharge and refill your tanks to give yourself the atmosphere to be creative and be effective as a leader.
32:15 Nicole talks about defining leadership moments
By understanding birth order and Nicole being the middle child, she seemed to gravitate in her professional and personal life relationships with domineering and controlling women. Nicole was experiencing the little sister syndrome. Once she became aware of it and realized she was making this same mistake repeatedly, she made changes to break away from it.
Nicole had a friendship that wasn’t balanced. It was a pretty high-maintenance unhealthy friendship with a lot of drama. Her friend was a very domineering big sister, of which Nicole was very much the subservient little sister friend. There came the point when Nicole had to decide if she would break off and step out on her own and not tolerate that anymore. It was pretty scary. But she looks back at that milestone and the personal growth, confidence, happiness, and business growth once she broke away from that relationship.
37:54 Nicole talks about legacy
Generosity is a no-brainer every time. It makes sense! Nicole wants to leave a legacy, a model for her children that you don’t decide when to be generous based on your fear, the number in the bank account, or your preconceived notions about the person you are giving. Nicole believes she is a vessel to be generous with her time, money, talents, and listening. With that comes a great responsibility of having good boundaries. Generosity fuels so much of what she does in her business and the bigger dreams. She never wants to approach generosity with fear or a mindset that doesn’t trust what goes around comes around. And even if it doesn’t, this is a compelling action.
39:43 What excites Nicole the most these days?
They just bought their first home, so there has been the creative challenge of improvements and remodeling. It has been fun and costly.
She just launched a group coaching program called Pure Gold. It has been so fulfilling. (At the time of this recording), it has only been one week in, and she has nine members. After launching the program, it was so interesting to see who came joined and why. Because she believes that everyone attending is in it for a reason, it is neat to see them develop relationships and trust. Because she knows after the eight weeks together, everyone will be in a different place than when they started. She also is already thinking about the next Pure Gold program and what I can offer. It has a lot of vitality to it.
- How Nicole defines success for her
- For Nicole, success is being generous with herself and others. Bring in that radical self-compassion and model that for her children and the people she works with.
- What book is Nicole reading right now?
- What is the best leadership book for Nicole?
- What is Nicole’s favorite phone app, and why?
- White noise – because she works from home, their bathroom is being remodeled, and they are going on week four, which is very noisy.
About Nicole McDonough
Nicole coaches leaders and entrepreneurs to lead with excellence, focus and innovation by stepping into their unique superpowers. Using tools like the enneagram, her clients learn to welcome challenges as opportunities for self-reflection so they can thrive in leadership and relationships and navigate complex dynamics with clarity, insight, and an open heart. https://nicolemcdonoughcoaching.com/about