Ouko: Life coach turning ordinary men into leaders

Friday May 14 2021
Jared Ouko.

Jared Ouko, life skills coach and orator, relaxes with a round of golf. PHOTO | COURTESY


Jared Ouko is an executive leadership and management coach who started giving guidance informally to his colleagues as a young professional. Today he has a portfolio of global clients.

In 2006, Ouko co-founded the Kenya branch of the International Coaching Federation and is currently a coach with the Ken Blanchard Companies.

As a skilled orator he has risen to the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster, after joining the Toastmasters International in 2000.

Take us through your journey of coaching?

As a middle manager, the teachings of Stephen Covey and business coach Alfonse Lopez inspired me to be the best I can be. Then managers in my organisation started reaching out to me for help with management challenges. One day, at a session with a departmental head, I applied the coaching skills I had been taught. Suddenly the manager started crying, and I sat there very scared and confused. She said “I wish my boss would ask me such questions.”


She felt her boss was not supportive and this was just one of many incidences. The managers I coached shared their experiences with friends and so I started coaching every day after work to external referrals.

How would you define coaching?

Coaching is always client-centred. It is a creative partnership with a client that focuses on designing and implementing meaningful changes in their personal or professional life. The coach goes on a journey with the person and lets them lead the way.

What skills does one need?

Listening skills, especially a systematic listening to a client’s bigger picture of life and thoughts. Be 100 percent present, but the coachee is the expert.

Who needs coaching?

Everyone, from CEOs down the hierarchy of the workforce to anyone stuck in their career or leadership situation. Also those who want to improve personal communication skills, to boost their confidence, create work-life balance or to maximise personal potential.

Does professional coaching increase employability or career success?

It enhances your abilities in managing people, operations, finances and information. You can be an ‘A’ student but lack people skills or have poor communications skills and find it hard to convince others or handle people issues. Soft skills are an added advantage. Training raises individual capacity up to 22 percent and coaching takes it beyond 80 percent.

Which coaching programmes would you recommend?

One of the best areas is around goals and the results are unmatchable. Universities don’t teach three things: How to set goals; How to make money, and speak in public. Some managers have taken the initiative to pay for themselves the $7,500 fee for coaching, and impacted their organisations and eventually left for higher positions.

Who were your coaching mentors?

Philosopher and author Charles Handy, business leadership coach and best-selling author Marshal Goldsmith, Ken Blanchard who co-authored the One Minute Manager, Philippe Rosinski and coaching architect Madeleine Homan.

What book are you reading?

Usually two to four books at the same time, but I am currently rereading First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek and Coaching in Organisations by Madeleine Homan and Lindar J Miller.

Tell us about a success story in your career as a coach.

An international NGO based in Kenya requested coaching consultants to put in place a ‘Surge Capacity Development Program’ to deal with humanitarian emergency needs. They wanted tools and help to set up and guide recruitment, and then coaching of their senior project leaders. It became so successful it was implemented globally and is still in use to date.

Why did you feel the need to start a branch of ICF Kenya 15 years ago?

I had felt the impact of coaching on me and I wanted other managers to experience the same both in life and in the workplace. I wanted to create a platform that allowed innovation, which developed coaches and placed Kenya on the global map.

What do you in your free time?

I golf, read, play the guitar and being in nature. I enjoy gardening and landscaping which I do early morning as my physical exercise. Replacing trees with fruit trees is the best invite I have discovered for attracting birds to my compound. When not golfing, I walk between 6.30am and 7am, just to enjoy nature.

What do you like most about coaching?

It helps me bring the best out of people and repay what others have tithed on me. I like it when a client experiences ‘aha moments’, the alacrity with which people go away smiling and with the energy to implement those moments.