Mastering your ABCs
By Katie Culligan
Kelly Featheringham’s superpower is that she embraces failure. She is an executive and leadership development coach who works with folks in leadership roles to develop, refine and leverage their strengths to become exemplary leaders and lead high-performing teams. She provides one-on-one coaching, team coaching and training programs. She also does keynote speaking for groups, organizations and conferences.
But why does she embrace failure? Because from failure arises essential learning experiences, the opportunity for grace and humility, and the gift of deep appreciation. She elaborates, “Accomplishments that come easy vanish quickly; but those that take determination and tenacity are cherished and reflected back for years to come.”
The business owner started her company in 2018. She spent more than 15 years working for the government before becoming a coach. Her government agency provided her with access to work with an executive coach, which was terrific and life-changing. She was starting to tire of the extensive travel and time away from home with her government job, and the coaching helped her get clarity and create a strategy to determine what she wanted to do next.
Kelly’s executive coach was also the inspiration for her wanting to become a coach. She had always felt passionately tied to her mission, but was looking for something that she could feel more closely tied to the impact. She truly appreciated how the coach worked, so she wanted to learn to affect people in such a positive way as well.
She explained, “I love knowing I have helped someone feel better about a difficult conversation, a job interview, or giving a speech, along with watching a manager/leader feel more at home in their role, thus inspiring those around them. When I ask my clients a question, and they stop and look at me like they’ve just had an incredible a-ha moment, it’s inspirational. That’s the impact I want to have as a coach for as many people as possible.” She wishes that coaching had been available to her when she was younger. She had so many questions and often had no idea who to direct them at or if the answers she received from others were for her benefit or theirs.
Her method of working with her clients is “no one size fits all.” While she started with a reasonably rigid approach that included “set programs,” she quickly pivoted to a much broader approach after feeling unaligned with where her clients were. She now has a framework that she begins with, but adapts each session to meet her client where they are.
The clients that can benefit most from her services are new or struggling C-suite executives (i.e., someone managing others). The number one thing she speaks about and coaches during her live seminars is assumptions, boundaries and communications. She also focuses on managed groups for her team development training.
This just so happens to be the topic of her new book “Maximizing Team Performance by Mastering your ABCs: Assumptions, Boundaries, and Communications.” It was a fun project that incorporated many themes she hears daily across her client’s work. She will offer various group activities around the book, such as a live training program. She will also be adding public speaking offerings on this topic, which can be done as a keynote speaker to a team or organization.
She says her days are fun because no two days are alike. Her business today looks very different from how it began, primarily due to her client’s requests, referrals, and suggestions. They have shaped her company and the services that she offers. She values their feedback and appreciates that they are comfortable asking her to create specialized training for their teams. She is honored that they would bring her to work with a struggling employee rather than give up on them. “We all go through highs and lows in our careers, and in my experience, no one goes to work wanting to do a bad job. Thus, providing the training and support to help people be more successful demonstrates a true understanding and appreciation of your teams and staff.”
Kelly has been married to her husband, Kris, since 2016. She has a stepson, Liam, who is about to turn 14 and is starting 8th grade. He is a big sports fan and specializes in football. She also has a dog named Seamus, a six-year-old Westie, and considers him her officemate, supervisor and constant companion. Kris and Kelly love wine tasting in Virginia. One of her favorites is Greenhill Vineyards (the location for this article’s photoshoot). Kelly is also a sports fan and likes to encourage that in kids. Before the pandemic, she was a middle school girl’s volleyball coach, and recently in June, she was a sponsor for the first Leadership Sports Academy hosted by United Charitable Inc. It was an exclusive one-day sports performance training program for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors nominated by their school administration or coaches. The academy combines sports training with educational seminars and panels for student-athletes.
You can find Kelly’s multi-faceted book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kindle. She looks forward to broadening her message through more leadership development training and speaking. She emphasizes, “We don’t need to know everything, even if we’re in charge. We’re much stronger when we surround ourselves with people who are not like us, but can amplify us.”