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Rosie Sweetman

Rosie Sweetman: Partnering with Purpose-Driven Leaders, Teams and Organisations Through Coaching Excellence

Leadership is a journey, and many leaders describe the benefit of having a ‘thinking partner’ or coach to navigate the journey.

Meet Rosie Sweetman, the Co-director of Sweetmans and Partners, an award-winning B Corporation dedicated to fostering sustainable learning and impact through partnerships.

Rosie’s early career, marked by Business Development roles at Grant Thornton and Arts & Business, laid the groundwork for her coaching philosophy. The transition from ‘telling’ to ‘asking’ businesses about their needs proved pivotal, emphasizing the power of genuine curiosity in cultivating meaningful relationships and delivering results.

As the former Director of Business in the Community Cymru, she spearheaded initiatives embedding purpose and values into business strategies, earning recognition in ‘The Times Top 100 charities and the IOD Wales Award’ for Director of Leadership in Corporate Responsibility. This experience fueled her passion for genuine collaboration and partnerships as drivers of impactful change.

The inception of Sweetmans and Partners at the age of 40 was a conscious decision to combine profit with purpose. Achieving B Corp status within the first year highlighted her commitment to aligning business success with social and environmental responsibility.

Rosie’s coaching journey encompasses diverse sectors, including finance, legal, and professional services, with an expanding reach into international territories. Her coaching philosophy centers on being a ‘thinking partner’ working with leaders, teams and organizations to direct challenges, resilience and growth.

Her coaching toolkit is flexible, adapting to individual client needs. Frameworks like the Belief Cycle, Systemic Awareness, Perspective Shifting, and Positive Psychology are seamlessly integrated to raise awareness and provide fresh perspectives and ways forward.

Below are the interview highlights:

Could you please brief us about yourself, and elaborate on your inspiration and motivation behind embarking on this sector?

My name’s Rosie Sweetman, and I’m co-director of Sweetmans and Partners, an award-winning B Corporation that exists to create sustainable learning and impact through the power of partnerships. We partner with clients as coaches and facilitators to achieve the outcomes that are important to them and their stakeholders. Our clients are ambitious, purpose-led leaders, teams and businesses who understand the value of connecting ‘how’ they work with ‘what’ they want to achieve so that all stakeholders benefit. Our approach is informed by three core beliefs: awareness brings choice, there’s rarely one ‘right’ answer and we achieve more together than we do alone.

My motivation for becoming an Executive coach came from a combination of influences, and 3 stand out in particular:

My early career in Business Development at Grant Thornton and Arts & Business enabled me to experience the positive impact of genuine curiosity on relationships and results. The switch from ‘telling’ businesses about your services to ‘asking’ what’s important to them was pivotal.

Leading Business in the Community Cymru – an organization committed to supporting businesses to think and behave responsibly. I saw firsthand how change was influenced by the beliefs and behaviors of the leaders, the culture they built and role-modeled, and the systems they were intentionally and unintentionally part of. This further fueled my passion for genuine collaboration and partnership to achieve greater impact.

In my early twenties, we unexpectedly lost my sister. As we struggled to come to terms with the loss as a family, we each created different narratives as to what happened. I heard these different stories and recalled a significant moment when I realized that they were all true and yet not true at the same time. I could see how things are often not black and white but complex, requiring us to be comfortable with multiple perspectives, truths, and views in a way that enables us to continue to move forward. This led to an ongoing interest in the impact of perspective and culture on how we make sense of things and the choices we make.

Could you please brief us about your company and its inception story?

As with many people, turning 40 prompted a period of reflection on what I’d achieved, what could be possible, and who I was becoming, which resulted in my husband and I deciding to set up Sweetmans and Partners. From the outset, we wanted to ensure that the success of the business was about more than its profit. Becoming a B Corp in our first year of operating was a way for us to establish our commitment to place both purpose and profit at the heart of our plans, growth, and decision-making. For us, business can be a force for good.

Can you share your background and experience as an executive coach, including your areas of expertise and the types of clients you have worked with in the past?

Initially, we focused on working with leaders in the financial, legal, and professional services sectors. This sector generates 10% of the GDP in Wales, and we saw an opportunity to support this sector to continue to grow and flourish contributing to addressing social and environmental challenges as well as generating wealth and jobs.

In the pandemic, we started working with leaders from a broader range of sectors and geographies, including international clients who were increasingly asking for ‘thinking partners’ to consider how they navigate, respond, support resilience, and move forward as leaders, teams, and organizations. We now predominantly coach (leaders, teams, and groups) and facilitate workshops and hackathons in regulated industries, including financial, legal, energy, and third sectors, with clients typically being ambitious, purpose-led, and values-driven leaders in growing SMEs and mid-sized corporations.

Going forward we expect to continue to work with clients who are seeking to close the gap between words and actions – putting purpose into practice, values into behaviors and connecting ‘how’ they work with ‘what’ they want to achieve. For us, coaching is a partnership that creates an opportunity for leaders to reflect and challenge their thinking, ultimately learn from their experiences, and make conscious choices about how they lead.

What do you believe are the key qualities and skills that set outstanding executive coaches apart from others in the field?

I’ve found that each client’s values, preferences, beliefs, and strengths will mean they respond to different coaches in different ways. That’s why we provide a free-of-charge ‘exploratory meeting’ for clients to meet with coaches before committing to a partnership. I’d say an ongoing commitment to your awareness, development, and practices enables a coach to best serve their clients. Coaching bodies such as the Association for Coaching and ICF have created competency frameworks that can be useful reference points, and I’ve personally found supervision essential for continuing to adapt and develop as a coach, particularly when working with multiple stakeholders across the organization and being both part of and external to the business.

How do you approach building a strong coach-client relationship, and what methods do you use to establish trust and rapport with your clients?

Perhaps it’s a cliched thing to say here, but there’s truth to it, and that is to build trust. What does that mean in practice? For me, it’s about the tangible aspects of trust, such as credibility and reliability, and the less tangible aspects of connection and commitment. Building in regular conversations about how you’re working together as well as what you’re achieving together, I’ve found, helps deepen an understanding of each other and keeps the partnership evolving and impactful.

Can you provide an example of a challenging coaching situation you’ve encountered and how you successfully navigated it to benefit your client?

I think the most challenging situation I experienced was early on in my coaching career when I was undertaking a 360-degree feedback and coaching exercise with an executive and senior leadership team. We’d identified the leadership behaviors that would bring to life the business’s values and support them in achieving their strategy. Responders were asked to describe how often they observed the behaviors (it was a developmental exercise rather than a performance measurement).

I’d guaranteed the confidentiality of all 360 reports and coaching sessions, and I was meeting with each leader to take a balanced view of the feedback and shape forward looking actions. The night before coaching with one of the more challenging reports, I received a phone call from the line manager asking if I’d be happy to share the report with them. Of course, the answer was no due to the agreed confidentiality, but I remember the sense of unease at the nature of the request and my concerns that it might mean I wouldn’t be rehired. As it happens, the client mentioned how much they valued my integrity, and it was a reminder of the importance of trust and confidentiality to effective relationships, to hold to my values and to ‘listen’ to what situations such as these let you know about the culture—all responses are data and learning points!

What tools, assessments, or frameworks do you commonly use in your coaching practice, and how do they contribute to your clients’ growth and development?

As I meet the clients where they are, I tend not to have a pre-defined set of tools or frameworks. However, there are some frameworks I find myself using more than others, mainly to raise awareness and provide a new lens on the situation:

  • Belief cycle: I like the simplicity of the connection it makes between our beliefs and assumptions, how we think and behave, and the impact it has on our relationships and results.
  • Systemic awareness: To physically “map” the picture we hold in our heads of the connections and networks we’re part of can help us see the situation afresh.
  • Perspective shifting: Sometimes clients find it useful to deliberately adopt different stances, e.g., dance floor/balcony, or above/below the line when considering their responses
  • Positive psychology: Identifying strengths and asking when and how a client might utilize them further or overplay them, etc.

360 feedback tools for individuals and teams can be very effective for building an understanding of any gaps in what they intend and how they’re perceived.

Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.

  • Exec Member, Bank:
    “Coaching gives me the space to consider my decisions and actions. I value the challenge and support that come from having a trusted partner. As a result, I’ve encouraged my team to receive coaching and an investment by the business more generally in the development of coaching skills across the leadership community.”
  • Senior Leader, Arts Organization:
    “Executive coaching has provided a valuable space for reflection that has supported and challenged me to shift perspective, remain outcome-focused, and notice my own beliefs and patterns. As a result, I make more conscious choices about how I lead and respond and feel more aware of my strengths and how these energize and support me to achieve the goals and outcomes I set for myself.”
  • Exec leader, Financial services:
    “Engaging with a coach was a new experience for me; however, it could not have come at a better time. I worked with Rosie shortly after accepting a new role, and her coaching was beneficial to ensure I considered different approaches and perspectives when dealing with stakeholders and challenging situations. It helped me identify my strengths and develop new thought processes to assist me in achieving my personal and professional goals.”
  • Rosie was awarded the highest accolade for leadership in The Times Top 100 charities to work for over two consecutive years and won the IOD Wales Award for Director of Leadership in Corporate Responsibility.
  • Sweetmans and Partners have also won several awards for their work with clients including CIPD Wales Best L&D consultancy and Wales Start-Up of the year for Innovation in the Financial, Legal and Professional services sector.