By Barb Ward from an interview with Marsha Benedetti, Director for Talent Development at Colorado State University

You can’t pour from an empty cup. There has likely never been a point in your lifetime where this statement has rung truer. As individuals, and as a nation we continue to battle, but we are tired. When we are overwhelmed and tired it becomes even harder for us to commit to doing something that will help us. But that is just what Marsha Benedetti, Director for Talent Development at Colorado State University did when she signed up for a class through Innovative Connections called The Conscious Coach.

“To be honest I was worried about the time commitment when I signed up,” says Benedetti, “but as the class began, it was like an energizer. It did not feel like I was taking time away, but rather adding value back to my work, expanding my capacity for innovation and creativity.”

The Conscious Coach is geared toward helping leaders establish strong relationships and achieve results in a new way. By helping them develop key coaching competencies such as awareness, presence, listening, trust-building, and managing goals and accountability, leaders can transform engagement and performance. These skills have become even more important in the wake of the pandemic, where in many cases the traditional workplace has shifted from business-based to home-based offices.

“For me, this class offered rich dialogue, as well as an opportunity to be introspective. I didn’t even realize how much I needed it until it was there,” says Benedetti. “It made me more self-aware about what I was feeling and going through – and that awareness grew to others.”

She adds, “Many times we would start a conversation and I would be like, ‘I needed this message today, how did you know?’ The content and conversations were just so relevant to me.”

So many of the skills required to make a good coach, weave right in with what people are needing to continue moving forward through the pandemic. More and more leaders are finding their staff benefits from having someone who will listen deeply, communicate effectively, and understand the emotions they are going through. And these don’t even touch on the really hard stuff like helping others remain optimistic and resilient in the face of adversity and uncertainty.

The class also offered the opportunity to learn from others. “We were able to spend time with people in different industries and who were at different stages of their careers. It was great to be able to learn from them as well because many times they used different skill sets and approached situations from a different perspective.”

Benedetti also felt the Hogan assessment was beneficial because it helped her recognize that as leaders, we need to be more intentional about how we show up. “We’re all in this together,” she says, “it gives us an opportunity to have a deeper understanding about how we are impacting others if we just listen without judgement. The materials used for the class were great, I continue to go back and reference them for different things that come up, and the breakout sessions allowed us to practice skills that will benefit us well into the future.”

“One of the things I connected with on a personal level was that the way the dialogue was set up, it took topics deeper and went beyond the surface. It filled a void that didn’t happen with so many other conversations,” Benedetti says. “There was one poem in particular that resonated with me that talked about how what we have to share is given by grace and it connected everything to purpose and values. In essence it really made me reflect and realize that I can’t pour from an empty cup. The work I want to do is to help others grow and develop into their best selves, and I can’t do that if I don’t fill up my cup first.”


Innovative Connections has a new Conscious Coach class starting in February 2022. Contact us at if you’d like more information.