Exclusive Interview | Featuring the CEO and Founding Partner of Credo Growth : Helene Smuts

Estimated read time 6 min read

In a world often driven by traditional career paths, Helene Smuts defied convention to carve her own entrepreneurial niche in coaching and team facilitation. Raised in a family steeped in ministerial tradition, Smuts’ journey took an unexpected turn from her initial studies in travel and tourism to the realms of Industrial Psychology.

Read the Full Article below.

Can you share with us a bit about your journey as an entrepreneur and how you discovered your passion for coaching and facilitating teams?

I wasn’t raised in an entrepreneurial home. I come from a family of ministers, and my parents raised me to be highly professional and a good employee, never really focusing on how to lead a business.

Becoming entrepreneurial was quite a surprise to me. My initial qualification was in travel and tourism, and I worked at a tour operating company. After completing my travel and tourism degree, I decided to pursue further studies in Industrial Psychology.

I think my natural interest in psychology emerged because I observed my dad in his counseling role within the congregation, effectively providing support to many people. This exposure, alongside the nurturing approach of my parents, sparked my passion.

After earning my second degree in Industrial Psychology and obtaining a coaching and advanced coaching certificate, I realized while working at the tour operating organization that I wanted to expand into the coaching space. At that point, the company didn’t need coaching services, which led to one of my toughest decisions: resigning to start my own coaching practice. I have such fond memories of the leadership, the team, and the culture there. Starting my own practice was my first venture into owning a business, which I never thought would become what it is today. My first practice was called Credo Coaching, and I’ve kept the name ever since.

Naturally, my practice evolved from individual coaching to group coaching, eventually becoming a comprehensive service offering leadership development, team development, and strategic planning with a focus on culture. It’s been a passion of mine since 2008 to work with groups, help them navigate challenges, and witness their growth as individuals and as team members.

Your book, “Ditch Mediocrity,” aims to empower leaders in developing their teams. What inspired you to write this book, and what key insights or strategies do you offer to leaders striving for excellence?

The inspiration for “Ditch Mediocrity” came partly from a mentor who insisted that I shouldn’t keep all my knowledge to myself, recognizing the desperate need for these leadership tools in the wider world. Another driving force was my desire to create an online course to complement the book, making these skills accessible and affordable.The book offers practical tools that leaders can easily implement. I’ve refreshed some time-honored techniques and introduced new ideas, transforming them from theoretical concepts into actionable strategies.
Ditch Mediocrity” came from years of observing teams and leaders settling for the status quo, often without realizing it. I wanted to challenge this mindset and show that with the right approach, excellence isn’t just possible; it’s achievable.
Feedback from readers, including school students and business leaders, has been that these skills should be taught much earlier in life. The strategies in the book are designed to provide a toolkit that leaders can use to effectively impact their teams and refine their leadership styles.

What role do you believe emotional intelligence plays in effective leadership and team dynamics, and how do you foster emotional intelligence within the teams you work with?

Emotional intelligence is crucial in leadership and team dynamics. We often say that you can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself. Self-awareness is key, as leaders need to recognize the impact of their behaviors and moods on others.
It’s about more than just understanding your own emotions; it’s about empathizing with others, managing conflict constructively, and building strong relationships. To foster emotional intelligence within teams, I focus on creating an environment where open communication and vulnerability are valued. We work on developing self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication skills. This not only improves team dynamics but also leads to more resilient and adaptable leaders.

One of the challenges with emotional intelligence is that leaders may expect their team members to exhibit it without undertaking the self-discovery journey themselves. It’s vital to teach and develop the skills of self-awareness and emotional intelligence within a team. Many young people, for example, may not know how to approach difficult conversations because they haven’t been exposed to such dialogue models growing up.

In the teams we work with, especially at the beginning of our journey with them, we prioritize establishing what we call ‘psychological contracting.’ This involves agreeing on how to interact, setting expectations, and creating a safe space for growth. This contract sets the tone for engagement and paves the way for developing leadership and self-leadership skills tailored to the intervention’s needs.

What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs or individuals looking to pursue a career in coaching and facilitating teams based on your own experiences and insights?

My first piece of advice is to embark on a personal development journey. I underwent a transformative year in transactional analysis that led to profound self-discovery. It’s difficult to guide others if you haven’t explored this path yourself.Practically speaking, I recommend starting with individual coaching to understand the nuances of the process. Then, gradually move to small group coaching and team facilitation, building your skills at each level before advancing. It’s essential to gain experience and expertise before tackling more complex facilitation challenges. Reading and continuous learning are also critical, as they provide numerous examples and analogies that can enrich your facilitation sessions.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of genuine connection. Whether it’s with your clients, team, or network, building strong relationships is key to long-term success.

Where can we find your upcoming events and services?

You can find our upcoming events and services on our website, www.credogrowth.com. We’re also on LinkedIn as Credo Growth, or you can connect with me personally at @helenesmuts. Through our website, you can subscribe to our newsletters.

Purchase Ditch Mediocrity Here – https://www.takealot.com/ditch-mediocrity/PLID72403422

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours