Inspirational Woman: Iris Clermont | Executive Coach, author and professional mathematician

Iris Clermont is an Executive Coach, author and professional mathematician. She holds certifications from Team Coaching International and Conversational Intelligence, and a Professional Accreditation from the International Coaching Federation. Iris’ mission is to motivate teams to work effectively and be solution-orientated and creative, while having fun and gaining energy from their business life for their private life and vice versa. With experience in a range of business consultancy and coaching roles, she has been living her passion over the last three decades in twenty countries worldwide.

Iris’ new book, Team Rhythm provides leaders with the knowledge and tools to escape a rut and ensure that their teams are inspired and motivated in the workplace. Iris applies logic and themes from the world of music to equip leaders with tools to engage and inspire their teams. Unpacking topics such as conflict resolution, diversity and inclusion and listening skills.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role. How did you get started as an executive coach?

I managed to make a smooth transition from my role as an international project manager at Ericsson and Nokia to becoming an executive and team coach. To bridge the gap between these two careers, I began interviewing leaders and teams, summarising their ideas in structured presentations. This approach led teams to recognise their own ideas and made the process of my work more efficient and successful. When leaders asked me why these improvements were working so well, I was able to share insights from team and leadership books. As well as learn from their wisdom. This journey marked my shift from a project manager to an executive and team coach.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Rather than sitting down and planning my career, my business path followed my values, strengths, and interests. This has led to doors opening for me along the way. I regularly read my clients’ references and feedforward from my network which helps me to gain clarity on my business strategy and direction. Moreover, references are an essential source for making decisions for my business future. Career planning clarity emerges for me when I am taking time off in nature, jogging or walking in the woods along rivers, lakes or the sea. I like for my career to feel more like a natural ride along a flowing river.

Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you overcome them?

There are two particular times since beginning my freelancing career in 2008 when I have faced challenges relating to a gap in the fluent order of services combined with a threat of existence. The first of these challenges hit me harder during the beginning phases of freelancing when my three sons were still at school. It was the year of the financial crisis. In Germany, the word ‘coaching’ had a bad reputation belonging to soft staff not viewed to be required in business. One particular sentence from my first mentor helped me, ‘Whenever you go through a phase of a lack of service orders in your business, enjoy your free time as you will need to preserve the energy for your upcoming busy times.’

Even though I was not enjoying my free time, I felt energy looking for open doors and existing demands in the market. This helped me step into the valuable area of agile coaching with the advantage of getting the technical skills and interests combined with coaching.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It’s so difficult to narrow down my career to one achievement. I have had an incredibly exciting and fulfilling time as an executive and team coach. One significant achievement I explored with a virtual team was winning an innovation prize, realising a power-saving solution for the telecommunication sector. What was remarkable was we never faced each other and still managed to create inspirational, trustful, effective and appreciative communication without face-to-face meetings.

However, my latest achievement is definitely my second book, ‘Team Rhythm’. The praise from my beta readers and the forward from Marshall Goldsmith was rewarding. It also reflects the new approach that I pose for leaders, providing a unique framework that enables leaders to empower teams. My longest-term achievement I am proud of is raising my three talented sons whilst being an international project manager, consultant and freelancer coach. I am thankful that they added their talents and creativity to ‘Team Rhythm’.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The one thing that is essential for achieving success is believing and imagining success before you get there, and being willing to adapt your ideas whenever you are struggling.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The positive feedback that my clients give to me during or at the end of each partnership. Being able to see and feel the impact of the work that I have done.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I encourage my clients to look around for two mentors with diverse backgrounds. During my coaching programmes, I reflect on achievements, challenges and way-forward options and ideas with mentors. The benefit is widening one’s view and proactively avoiding falling into holes or running against walls. During my lead agile projects, I mentored agile coaches. I like the focus on supporting and empowering each other, including expertise and diverse perspectives.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

If I could change one thing with a snap of a finger, I would change each leadership and expert team in our business world so that there was equal participation from all diverse perspectives. However, since I began my career, I have already seen immense positive changes. My first book, ‘Team Magic’, included nearly exclusively males in the cartoons showing teams and leaders in the telecommunication industry. The cartoons reflected the reality of the working world from my projects spanning from 1991 until 2011. Now, I am glad to face more and more females as leaders and experts in technical areas, which is displayed in the cartoons in my new book, ‘Team Rhythm’.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Enjoy each day of your life, and also try to enjoy the periods of time when you’re facing challenges. Take time for yourself in nature, for music, for silence. Continuously be open to learning and growing your attentive listening skills. Ask questions to connect. Whenever you’re feeling down, ask yourself: what is clever and valuable now – what ideas arise for you?

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I hope that my future clients gain from my rhythm exercises and from examining the ‘Team Rhythm’ cartoons. I hope to achieve a sense of fulfilment by knowing that I am adding real value. Bringing joy into the lives of leaders and teams.

Thank you so much for your insightful, beautiful questions, and I wish you all the best for your future.

Read more from our inspirational women here.

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