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Lesley Dobree

I have experience of coaching leaders working both within and outside the education sector. Within universities, I have worked with leaders in senior academic , technical and professional service roles such as DVCs, PVCs, Deans, heads of schools and departments and Directors of professional services. I have expertise in leadership development and coaching leadership teams.
Advance HE
Job Title
Executive Coach

My preferred types of coaching include:

• Executive and leadership coaching:  I enjoy working on a one-to-one basis with individuals on issues or challenges relating to their leadership roles. Clients identify the specific topics they wish to bring to the coaching sessions and through the coaching conversations that take place, they identify actions that will lead to palpable change. I am familiar with coaching clients with a diverse range of issues including improving personal leadership styles and skills, managing challenging situations and difficult people, managing peers and bosses, leading change and innovation, developing personal resilience and improving work/life balance.

• Career transition and development coaching: Coaching can be really helpful when applying for a new role including promotional opportunities, preparing for interviews, starting a new job or coping with the adjustments required to transition effectively into a new role. Coaching may also be helpful when facing redundancy or retirement and preparing for the life changes that occur at these times.

• Personal leadership skills coaching: Even experienced leaders need to refresh and adapt their skills to cope with the ever-changing internal and external circumstances impacting on their roles. Coaching can be helpful during times of structural or cultural change, working with a new boss or preparing for difficult conversations. Enhancing personal resilience, confidence, personal effectiveness, reducing work related stress and time management are also issues that emerge frequently in coaching conversations.

My background

I have always been interested in people and continuing personal development. I started my career as a health professional and worked in the NHS in leadership roles for 10 years. After moving into higher education and developing a successful academic career, I became Head of Department, Associate Dean and then Dean of a large Academic Faculty. In 2004, I was appointed as Deputy Vice Chancellor at UK university, and held that post for 13 years, leading a number of senior leaders towards the achievement of a range of strategic goals, improved performance across a whole range indicators and success in winning a number of external awards. Since 2017 I have run my company, Dialogue for Success Ltd, providing executive coaching and leadership consultancy services to a number of clients.

My approaches to coaching

I believe there a number of things that influence the way I work as a coach. These include:

  • My experience as senior university leader which provides in-depth understanding of the internal and external HE context and the diverse challenges facing many UK universities and their leaders. My involvement in running leadership development programmes has provided a valuable insights, as well as an extensive network of senior leaders, across a range of different universities. This personal credibility and contextual understanding is valuable in establishing coaching relationships.

  • My background and experience as a health professional, educator and senior leader have allowed me to accumulate a wealth of knowledge, expertise and skills which I draw on when establishing coaching relationships.  These, along with well -developed interpersonal skills and a high level of emotional intelligence enables me to establish rapport easily and inspire confidence in my clients.

  • I am passionate about supporting diversity and inspiring women and other under-represented groups to succeed at the highest levels of leadership in universities. I enjoy supporting a diverse range of coaching clients to grow in confidence, develop themselves, make changes and succeed in achieving their stated goals.

  • I am happy to offer face- to- face coaching sessions but increasingly (since the pandemic) many clients have preferred to meet on-line for coaching conversations. This has proved convenient for them and has also allowed me to coach clients in a much wider range of geographical locations. I am professional, reliable and as flexible as possible to enable coaching sessions to fit within busy work schedules. All coaching conversations, including those on-line, are private and confidentiality is assured. 

Coaching and mentoring experience

I am an experienced educator, leader and coach with a successful track record of working at the most senior levels in higher education and understand the many challenges associated with this type of role. Throughout my career I have provided mentoring and coaching to the staff (and students) with whom I have worked. Over the last few years I have enjoyed coaching a range of senior academic and professional service staff at different UK universities and colleges, receiving excellent feedback from all involved.

Relevant coaching qualifications and accreditations

ILM Level 7 PG Diploma in Executive Mentoring and Coaching

Member of the Association of Coaching (MAC)

Associate Member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council UK

Attendance at regular coaching supervision sessions