VCU Center for Corporate Education

Transformational change starts here. Join us.

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Headshot of workshop facilitator Ann Deaton, PhD.

Our facilitator interview series wouldn’t be complete with Ann Deaton, who partners with us on our ever-popular Coaching Skills for Leaders and Managers workshop. For more details about Ann or to register for one of her classes, visit the CCE website.

Describe your own career path up to this point.

I spent the first half of my career in health care, working as a clinical health psychologist and division head in hospital and rehabilitation settings. When our hospital merged with another health care facility in the late 1990’s, we brought in two coaches to ensure the merger was a success. In the process, I learned about coaching and became trained as a leadership coach. I have spent the past 15 years working as a leadership and team coach and facilitator with many different kinds of organizations.

When did you first start partnering with the CCE?

I was one of the early CCE partners. I have been facilitating Coaching Skills for Managers and Leaders sessions for the past 8 years. I partnered with the Center to develop and offer customized leadership programs for organizations’ senior and mid-level leaders, as well as a 4-month long Extraordinary Women Leaders cohort program that attracted leaders from numerous different companies and organizations. The common thread in all the work I’ve done through the CCE has been leaders and organizations wanting to become more effective and sustainable.

What do you enjoy most about teaching/facilitating?

I love the diversity of challenges that leaders bring, and the opportunity for participants to learn not just from the facilitator but from one another. The advantage to doing interactive sessions is that everyone gets to know each other, experience different styles and approaches, and has the opportunity to practice the skills they are learning immediately. I enjoy hearing back from participants, sometimes years later, about how what they learned has enabled them to accomplish their goals, get promotions, and develop others.

How do you contribute to “transformational change” in the workplace?

There’s no way to avoid change, and the pace of change often feels overwhelming and relentless. One way I contribute to transformational change is by enabling leaders and teams to stay centered in the midst of change, and to recognize that our most complex challenges require Both/And solutions. When we begin to value the diversity of the workforce by appreciating and including unique perspectives, organizations experience less conflict and engage in more constructive interactions. I delight in being able to facilitate that shift.

Describe a “lightbulb” moment you’ve had on your personal career journey.

Great question. I once had a boss who told me (at my annual performance evaluation) to just keep doing what I was doing, that it was not necessary to change anything because the way we were doing things was fine. It was an affirmation of my work and should’ve felt like good news, but for me there is always room to make things better. “Fine” is not satisfying when something could become “amazing.” The conversation was a wake-up call that ultimately caused me to leave the role I was in, and led me to the next step of my career. Had it not been for that boss, I never would have been doing the work I’m doing today, nor at the Center.

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