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on a positive impact

How to Coach Young Leaders to a Visibly Healthier World

ByLuke Cahill, Coach for the Johnson & Johnson One Young World Change Maker Program 2018 and Global Strategic Medical Affairs Associate Director, J&J Vision Care, Australia

Two great passion points for me are youth mentorship and eye health. I’m excited to wrap both of these into one as a coach for the Johnson & Johnson One Young Change Maker Program 2018. Over the next six months, I have the privilege of providing executive coaching to Erna Takazawa, one of 12 aspiring young external health leaders selected to participate in the program (along with 66 J&J employees). As Samoa’s first and only optometrist, Erna is blazing her own path forward by improving the standards of eyecare in her community. As her coach, we’ll collaborate on her ambitious goal of “changing the world by tackling vision impairment and saving people’s sight one patient at a time.”  

School children in Nepal benefitted from a free vision screening day I participated in with Eyes for Everest

The role motivated young eye health professionals, like Erna, play in improving standards of eyecare can’t be underestimated. Adequate vision is paramount to quality of life and we live in a world where ocular health issues are on the rise. It is estimated that 253 million people worldwide live with visual impairment and that over 80% can be prevented or cured. The need for new leaders to emerge and guide this field forward is evident. I believe coaching is an important tool we can provide to help new leaders find their way and expediate their impact.


Coaching Principles

For someone who’s closer to the end of his career than the start, coaching is an exciting and rewarding experience to participate in. Our emerging world leaders are living in a world which is dominated by digital interactions. The opportunity to offer a one-on-one, open and honest human connection is potentially more valuable today than at any other time in history.

I’m always inspired by young leaders. Their passion and energy towards achieving goals can be palpable. Here are two focus areas I’ve found to be particularly impactful when coaching:

  • Ask WHY: Assist in exploring the “WHY am I pursing these specific goals.” Most young leaders are clear about WHAT they want to achieve, as well as the HOW to go about it. However, taking the time to explore, reflect and then articulate the WHY can be the factor which takes a mission from good to great. This of course is a two-step process, firstly affirming the WHY themselves and then communicating the WHY to their audience.
  • Encourage risk taking: Many young leaders have a strong perfectionistic streak. This is often what has assisted them to become high achievers in life to this point. However, it can come with a burden of self-doubt and limit risk taking. Coaching is an ideal forum to ensure this is not a blind spot and does not become an impediment to growth and progress.

One of the coaching models I gravitate towards is the GROW model, which provides great structure and is an excellent starting place for aspiring coaches. However, it’s important to not feel confined by the structure and allow yourself the flexibility whist coaching to respond according to individual circumstances. Tailoring your coaching to your “student’s” individual needs will build the trust that is critical to coaching success. This also means the “speed of progress” will vary in all cases and can be challenging in the time sensitive environment in which we all live and work. This however is also an invigorating and enabling part of the process, as it allows for unexpected, but valuable, outcomes for both those being coached and the coach.

Wish Erna and I luck as we embark on this journey together.


About the Johnson & Johnson One Young World Change Maker Program: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is committed to empowering young health leaders within our Company and beyond to change the trajectory of health for humanity. Since 2013, J&J has partnered with One Young World (OYW) to provide young leaders with unique opportunities to learn from inspirational world leaders and to debate, formulate and share innovative solutions for some of the world’s most pressing health issues. The partnership is managed by J&J Global Community Impact which supports and champions people on the front lines who are at the heart of delivering care. To date, 90 J&J OYW leaders from across the globe have participated in the J&J OYW program. In 2018, 78 J&J OYW delegates will participate in the six months program and attend the OYW Summit in The Hague, The Netherlands from October 17-20.