Executive Coaching: Case-study 1

An able and high-performing executive within an international manufacturing and distribution company had just been promoted to her first Board position as Sales Director. The CEO had suggested coaching as he had found it helpful himself and felt that it would accelerate her transition to this new leadership role.

After exploring her situation, and taking into account the CEO's views via a 3-way meeting, the client and coach agreed that the 3 key coaching objectives would be to:

Over a period of 9 months, this leader made significant progress in all three areas.

The coach's ability to help her focus on the key tasks of a Director and to guide her through the minefield of Board-level politics proved very valuable in easing her transition. Through understanding her personality type, and in particular her preference for structure and clarity, she developed the confidence to start playing to her strengths. Careful planning helped her to begin contributing consistently to Board discussions on wider business issues.

Use of 360 degree feedback also led to a rapid growth in self-awareness which helped the client to reassess aspects of her interpersonal style. In particular, she began to appreciate that her warm, friendly, chatty manner was both an asset and, potentially, an obstacle to developing 'leadership presence'.

In addition, she realised that at times it also prevented her from having 'difficult conversations' with poor performers in her team. She recognised that her underlying fear of being thought 'bossy' could make her over-compensate at times by being too friendly. This in turn sent mixed messages to colleagues on those occasions when she had to hold them accountable and deliver honest feedback. These insights led to her successfully trying out some new behavioural strategies, without losing the essence of her friendly and enthusiastic style.

Overall, this client was helped rapidly to transform herself from a good operational head to a successful Board member who contributed to the leadership of her business by setting direction, inspiring her team and achieving results through others.