Executive coaching

I provide leadership coaching (or ‘executive coaching’) and life coaching, either in person or by video link. I work with clients in the UK and internationally and can often meet in the evenings and at weekends. 

Coaching gives you a trusted relationship in which to broaden your perspective, solve problems, clarify plans and maintain your energy. Coaching is often used when you’re feeling stuck, considering making a change, establishing yourself in a new setting, or when you need to rediscover your purpose and passions. It’s not about being told how the coach would handle it, but exploring options and unleashing your own ideas and potential.

Most people generally have an initial course of 5 or 6 coaching sessions of around 90 minutes, as this is usually enough to address the top priority you’ve brought. I’ll work with you to tailor the plan to your situation and needs, though. It’s often helpful to begin with one-to-one sessions with a senior leader and then consider some support for the wider team, and I’m very happy to talk about that kind of possibility.

Coaching is usually focussed on addressing a specific question, decision or journey, and we’ll begin by clarifying what you want to get out of our time together. Coaching is the most ‘bespoke’ kind of development or support which an individual or team can have. It should always be tailored just for you.

compass, orientation, map-5261062.jpgUnderstanding better.

Where relevant I use a wide variety of proven tools and assessments to help you gain deeper insight and greater clarity about yourself, how you are doing and how others see you. 

The tools I most often find useful are: the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), 16Personalities, Clifton Strengths Finder (formerly Gallup Strengths Finder), NHS Healthcare Leadership Model, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, and the Cynefin Framework.

Consider your options.

Coaching helps you step back and consider your options. As a trusted ‘third party’ I will work with you to find creative solutions and prioritise possibilities. We’ll draw on your own values, strengths and priorities, rather than having anyone else’s imposed on you.

Set off on the journey.

Together, we’ll work out a plan for your next steps. As you set off, we will take stock with each step to see how things are turning out. No plan is perfect, so being ready to flex is a key part of success. I will help you be clear about what you’re aiming to achieve, and can help hold you to account for doing what you’ve agreed.

Understanding motivation, improving communication and reducing conflict. Developing your relationship intelligence (RQ) with the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). 


Developing your personal strengths. Use of inventories including Portrait of Strengths (from Strength Deployment Inventory), Myers-Briggs (MBTI), 16Personalities, Clifton Strengths Finder (formerly Gallup Strengths Finder). 

Growing your strengths and style. Assessments using Goleman leadership styles, the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model, the TKI (Thomas-Kilmann conflict Inventory) and others. 

Understanding how others see you. A range of 360 degree appraisal and feedback tools, tailored for your situation. 

Changing unhelpful patterns of thought or behaviour. Support to use cognitive behavioural (CBT) insights and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) approaches to address self-defeating thoughts and habits. 

Leading in uncertainty. Guided insights drawing on the Cynefin Framework and VUCA

Coaching with Robert Varnam

Robert Varnam is a GP with a distinguished background in pioneering strategic change, leadership development and service improvement in the NHS. He has an international reputation as an inspirational coach of leaders and adviser to governments and senior leaders in healthcare systems.Over the past 15 years he has provided ideas, training and coaching to leaders at local, regional and national level in government, healthcare and the charity sector. He has designed a number of national quality improvement programmes in the NHS, and run teams of leadership coaches and organisational development experts working with frontline leaders and teams.

In 2021 he stepped down as national Director of Primary Care Improvement in NHS England where, among other things, he had led the development of vision and strategy for the NHS, pioneered a £2.4bn pa programme of service transformation and run the world’s largest programme of innovation and improvement in primary care.

He now provides bespoke consultancy on large scale change and service improvement, coaches senior leaders, provides training in change leadership and management, and mentors emerging leaders. He is currently working with organisations in England, British Columbia, Ontario and South Africa, covering healthcare, government, the legal profession, churches and community development.

Robert brings his diverse experience to coaching, along with his passion for seeing leaders flourish as they lead successful teams and sustainable change. He draws on a wide range of leadeship models and insights, and is particularly passionate about helping to align people and plans, hearts and minds. The focus of coaching, though, is entirely on the needs of the client, and Robert employs a number of different diagnostic tools and coaching techniques to help you deepen your insights and develop your skills and confidence. The aim is to help you achieve your aim.

Robert Varnam adheres to the Global Code of Ethics for coaches, mentors and supervisors, which promotes the highest standards of professionalism. In particular it emphases the duty of confidentiality and the requirement to serve the client’s best interests in an open and non-judgemental way. The full Code is available at www.globalcodeofethics.org/download-the-code/.

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