After a number of unsuccessful attempts at promotion to Director level, AS sought coaching in order to improve others’ perception of him by seeing the capability of the individual and not the quiet nature of the person.
AS approached me as a colleague and as a qualified coach within the organisation we both worked for at the time. He had been turned down for 3 promotions in succession and he wanted to gain a better understanding of the reasons he was not being chosen.
Our initial meeting sought to firstly understand AS’s ultimate goal by engaging in a coaching relationship. I sought to find out if/how far the requirement might go beyond the workplace situation. AS specifically asked for coaching with challenge, and we agreed on the triggers we would use if there was a need to step down the level of challenge presented.
We discussed the need for clear feedback from the previous recruitment panels and also sought feedback on AS’s leadership style from a range of angles including peers, seniors, team members, suppliers and associated departmental colleagues. An online survey tool was used in order to capture trends as well as collate comments associated with each question. 95% of those asked responded to the survey request within the timescales allocated.
AS took time to reflect on the results, deliberating on the themes presented and asking himself questions on what he could do to demonstrate he could lead differently in areas where feedback was most constructive. To maintain balance, we reviewed the positive and complimentary comments provided by the survey and panel members.
The actions AS agreed were clear, straightforward and, as a coach I felt, reflected the end game AS has communicated at our first session. He was diligent in taking himself beyond his range of comfortable actions in order to provide evidence of his capability to himself (as well as to peers and senior leaders). For example he offered to present a key project to the Executive Board, outlining the success to date and how it could complement the company’s transformation strategy moving forward. In order to achieve this, AS and I worked on a range of techniques and practice sessions to increase confidence, test voice control, handling questions and explaining the complex detail to a mixed audience.
During our sessions which followed, I could see a significant change in the physiology of AS – his stature was more upright, his diction more distinct, his conviction stronger and his eyes told how committed he was to change. Each time I observed such a change, I mentioned it and we discussed the psychological change in AS which was leading to the physical change in his being.
As a result of the Board presentation, AS was asked to present the same material at a conference with over 300 attendees. Despite this being completely outside his area of comfort, AS took pride in being asked and learning and best practice from his previous sessions and, as I was one of the 300 attendees at the conference, delivered with aplomb. We met immediately after his presentation and he was euphoric about, not just his delivery, but also his sense that he had mastered the concerns of others in relation to his ability to stand apart and lead from the front. I felt he has used his increase in adrenalin effectively as I could see beads of perspiration across his brow.
As the organisation was going through a large scale transformation programme, further opportunities arose for AS and he was promoted within 4 months of our first meeting. He has subsequently moved to a higher role within another organisation.
He continues to seek coaching when he feels he needs to ‘challenge himself, get uncomfortable and continue learning’.
Never underestimate the power of the mind on the body – belief with a genuine foundation can change a person’s life.