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    Executive Coaching Transformed Me

    By Pau Crego–

    In recent months, I made a big career shift from a leadership role in city government to becoming an executive coach in service to other leaders. This decision was fueled by my own transformational experiences as a recipient of executive coaching, which shed light on how supporting leaders through coaching can be instrumental to improving services, strengthening organizations, and bolstering social movements.

    Executive coaching offers a confidential relationship for leaders to explore the problems they want to focus on, and find solutions in alignment with their own values and expertise. The role of the coach is to ask questions, mirror and affirm important points, and facilitate insights for the client; yet most notably, the coach does not offer guidance, opinions, or judgment. The client is always the lead in coaching sessions, and is the sole expert on their own professional life.

    Partnering with a talented executive coach transformed me. Two and a half years ago, as I went from being Deputy Director to Executive Director of a city and county agency, I searched for an executive coach to help me navigate the impossible decisions and challenging dynamics of my new professional role. Coaching gave me a safe space to be vulnerable and authentic, to be fully seen without judgment, and to show up as the best version of myself. It also helped me gain deeper insight into my values, patterns, and areas for growth as a leader.

    Perhaps the most important benefit I gained from coaching was a true companion and witness. Being in a leadership position often means feeling profoundly lonely. The reality for most of the leaders I have known—especially those at the helm of social justice and public service organizations—is that they are constantly balancing unbearable competing priorities, such as life-or-death crises, limited resources, staff retention and morale, power dynamics, and more.

    Leaders are expected to handle all of the aforementioned, show up authentically, inspire others, and keep confidential the extremely difficult situations facing them. In my case, I was weighed down by safety threats against our local communities, right-wing lawsuits targeting initiatives I had dedicated years of brainpower and heart to, and increasing death rates of members in my own community as a result of violence and overdose.

    While the weight I held went generally unseen and unknown by others, my caring coach stood witness to it all. Not only did my coach accompany me throughout, but he also helped me refocus on what was within my control, ground myself in my values as a leader, and identify the best next steps ahead.

    Photo by Rink

    Coaching can offer an unrivaled space for unlocking our own power and potential. This makes us more effective at healing our communities and transforming the systems that harm us. Thus, I see a critical role for coaching in strengthening public services and social movements, including our trans and LGBTQI+ rights movements. I am thrilled to have embarked on this new journey supporting our community’s leaders in this transformational work.

    Pau Crego (he/him) is a queer and trans immigrant who has worked towards equity for trans and LGBTQI+ communities for almost two decades, both in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in Spain where he is originally from. His advocacy has included direct services, technical assistance, training and education, program design, and policy change. Crego worked at the Office of Transgender Initiatives (OTI) from 2017–2023, most recently serving as the Office’s Executive Director. He is also faculty in the Health Education Department at City College of San Francisco, and a published author and translator in the field of public health. He can be reached at

    Musings on Trans Liberation
    Published on May 23, 2024