Val Sanders – Case Study

Val SandersVal Sanders

V-Teamwork Alumni - Val Sanders

Job Title: Empowerment Coach / Director of Training & Volunteers Company: Val Sanders Coaching / Empower Work

Tell us what you do and what your work typically involves.

I transitioned to coaching after taking the helm of Autodesk Women in Leadership, an employee resource group, and discovering that helping others to develop their full potential was the most rewarding work I had ever done... more important to me than graduating from an ivy league college and top technical MBA program, building cutting edge technology, leading teams on huge cross-functional software projects, or singing in Carnegie Hall!

My coaching work is done in conversations with individuals and sometimes with groups. I help people explore what’s important to them. I guide them in discovering how to build strong working relationships, establish healthy boundaries and set priorities.

How has V-Teamwork helped you become more effective / level up/ develop as a contributor?

For one thing, I have become much more cognizant of my mood on a day-to-day basis, and have been paying much more attention to how my own mood changes in response to situations at work, as well as observing others' moods. This has helped me to better manage myself, and in teaching my clients how to recognize their emotions and make conscious decisions about how to respond to emotional triggers.

Other elements of the program that proved immediately useful to me and continue to be useful are communication techniques such as repeating back what I hear from others, which is helping me hone in on common understanding. I use this frequently to clarify relevancy and illuminate differences in understanding. I’ve become far more specific and clear on action items and outcomes of discussions, which has proved extremely helpful. These sound so simple yet they are not easy; where the program really made a difference was in providing me a sandbox to experiment and practice and learn how to integrate these tools into my existing communication style.

What did you most enjoy about being part of V-Teamwork?

V-Teamwork gave me an incredible opportunity to observe team behaviour at close quarters. Normally at work, we’re so focused on outcome that we rarely take the time to observe how we are interacting with each other. The virtual environment gave that extra bit of distance and safety: even though I was fully immersed I had more freedom to see the difference that the actions of each person (including my own) made to the way our team performed. Our team was a great mix of senior leaders, huge technical talent and early career professionals and I loved the way we all learned from one another, regardless of seniority or experience.

What's something you’ve approached differently recently because of what you learned in V-Teamwork?

I never realised how much we were losing by not giving feedback. In V-Teamwork we practiced giving and receiving valuable feedback and I now approach feedback opportunities with more of a calm center. As leaders, it is our job to build trust and an environment where people aren't afraid to be accountable. Recently, I've actually been effective at home in this area by remaining calm when talking about a problem. I apply the same principle at work. People are afraid of punishment, and of being shamed. The worst thing a leader can do in this situation--which I have seen frequently--is to provide no feedback at all, because negative feedback can be unpleasant to give. In the program we worked through this, not as a theory, but in practice. Now I can increase accountability by simply talking without blaming, which takes away the fear.

What would you say to someone thinking about doing V-Teamwork?

V-teamwork helps you see yourself as a teammate and as a leader with a 360 degree mirror.  It gives you a view into your strengths and weakness, and provides a toolbox for you to change the things that you want to change in order to be more effective.

If you’re still not sure, here is a little bit more about us...

Our customers can't stop talking about us


After doing the program, executives, managers and team members are delighted at the way they can create a collaborative culture, hold people accountable and transform previously difficult relationships.

We’ve worked with some of the best in the business


Through our work with executives and managers at multinational tech companies and major government organisations, we know what’s involved in leading high-level, high-performing teams, and we’ve ensured that our program will deliver results for the most senior of managers.

Our expertise spans many disciplines


Our program is founded on world-leading research in behavioural science, games and gamification, biology of cognition, philosophy of language and somatics.

Our own team brings together more than a decade of experience in ontological and somatic coaching, action-learning methods, management consulting, organizational development, and user experience design.