My Coaching Journey – Scott McLear

Social Security Programme Blog: Leadership Series

Scott McLear, Service Manager



My name is Scott McLear and I am currently Service Manager for the maintain service within the Social Security Programme.

I have been in the civil service, in UK and Scottish Government roles, since I started as an A1 grade in the Student Awards Agency in 2003. I went on to work for five years in Ministerial Private Office before taking on a policy role within the Digital Directorate before taking on a product focussed role. Subsequent to that, I developed my product experience in Registers of Scotland and HMRC Digital and I am now working within the Social Security Programme.

Coaching Journey

My coaching journey began in May 2023 when I was introduced to my coach by my then manager. At that point I’d been in the Programme for a year and had just been asked to take on a new role.

Although excited about the opportunity, at that point in time I was experiencing a crisis of confidence. This was not a standard type of imposter syndrome that we can all suffer from. This was something different, due to varying circumstances, and was clearly affecting me. It is a hard thing to admit when you are struggling and it’s not always easy to see it yourself when you are in the middle of it, however, my line manager could see that something was different and had a much-needed conversation with me – a conversation that I am now, looking back, very grateful for.

If I could explain how I was feeling to others it was a like I had gone from being able to answer anything asked quickly and with ease but then suddenly I could not; I could not get my brain to engage as it once did. I could forget simple things like dates, activities, even names when asked. I used to pride myself on knowing everything about my service area or the past products that I had delivered; but it was evident that something was out of character.

As a bit of context, I became a new father in September 2022, and returned to work in October, and, as any parent will know, sleep was a luxury. I thought it was just lack of sleep that was making me struggle with work; but looking back, it is clear now that it was not.


I met with my coach in May 2023. Our first meeting was looking at what I wanted to get out of our sessions. My coach explained right at the start that some sessions would take me out of my comfort zone – and they did. As someone who is quite introvert, it was hard for me, at first, to open up and explain why I felt I needed coaching. We used tools such as a self-assessment wheel that supported our conversations and I eventually decided on three outcomes to develop and work on: Work; Social life; and Family.

In the ‘Work’ context, one of the things that was evident was the number of self-limiting beliefs I was putting on myself. “I’m not ready…I’m not good enough…. I don’t have the experience” are some examples of thoughts that would go round my head when thinking about myself. We looked at these, and other things such as expectations management, and considered if my expectations of myself were too high.

At that point, I had been in the Programme for a year – the size and complexity of which I had not experienced before. In previous roles, I was used to knowing every detail of my products and services. My coaching journey made me realise that yes, my expectations were too high – something that seems obvious now.

I realised that my previous, less complex roles took me, on average, 18 months to truly feel confident, and the level of pressure and worry I was putting on myself was not manageable or realistic. In partnership with my coach, I produced a series of actions to manage my expectations. These ranged from building my resilience through simple things such as saying, “I don’t know, but I will find out that answer.”

Another thing we focussed on was my energy and body language and how there are three levels of energy from one to three, where one is low and three is off the scale larger than life characteristics that come across as confident. In most situations I was somewhere between one and two – even when a particular situation called for two to three. This is something that I am still working on today, where I am not externally portraying the positivity and confidence I am feeling internally. This is hard being someone who is an introvert – it is a work in progress.

Where am I now?

Compared to where I was in May 2023, I feel a more energised, confident person. I have a personal development roadmap with four areas of expectations management, knowledge, skills and confidence to work on.

Coaching helped me understand the unrealistic expectations I was putting on myself and how to manage those. It has also given me more self-belief in my capabilities, and I can now speak with confidence – not self-doubt.

Coaching also helped me identify gaps in my skills and form my personal objectives for the year. It is a journey, and this is just the start for me; I still have things to learn, but the help my coach provided, I cannot speak of highly enough and would suggest that, if anyone is interested in coaching, they should pursue it.

I do hope that my experiences of coaching, and what led me to it, have helped. If anyone wants to reach out and have a chat about my experiences of coaching, or anything I have discussed in this blog, please get in touch.

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