(**details are altered to respect client confidentiality)
Roger - Coaching
As Executive Director of a public-facing nonprofit, Roger was hired by the Board based on deep expertise in this field. Within 6 months, it became clear to the Board and Roger that he lacked sufficient "people skills" to work effectively with staff and the Board. Not surprisingly, he was performing poorly at fundraising. His job was on the line.
Committed to this nonprofit, Roger sought coaching to become a more effective leader. Over 6 months of coaching sessions, the process had results: built his self-awareness, identified elements of his interpersonal style that weren't serving him well, and opened up new skills and behaviors (ways to ask questions, listen to others, understand context, engage with staff...) that enabled him to realize his potential and work more effectively with the Board, visitors, staff, and donors. What most helped him was to imagine working with his own personal "Board of Directors" to improve his leadership.
Several years later, he remained Director, serving the nonprofit and the community as an established leader.
Genevieve - Coaching
Genevieve was so successful in her first 3 years as a design staffer for a unit in a global manufacturing firm that senior management promoted her to Creative Director, managing an 11-member team.
Now, however, peers from whom she was recently promoted seemed to downplay her instructions. Her weekly meetings were often sparsely attended. While the Vice President she reports to was supportive, he began to express concerns. With his backing, Genevieve selected me to coach her.
In our work, she was highly motivated. She quickly identified "leadership presence" as a way of being that she'd not thought about. In interviewing colleagues as part of coaching "fieldwork", she learned that staff expect her to be mature, listen, run on-time meetings, and supervise, not socialize. Over the 10 coaching sessions, she constructed her version of presence-based leadership and put it to use. Her transformation has been welcomed by boss and colleagues.
CEO Estelle & Ventures Real Estate
The firm's 5-person executive team is a tight group that has worked together for so long that they can forecast each other's next moves. Recently, the firm is experiencing turnover in middle management, and customer complaints are mounting. Puzzled by these new trends, CEO Estelle sought my help. The project was to learn more about the current situation and work with the executive team and their 20 direct reports to make appropriate changes.
Once we agreed on the goals and scope of my work with Ventures R.E., I reviewed documents that provided information on the organization and its current situation. Then I developed a set of interview questions (jointly edited and approved by the senior execs and an advisory team of middle managers) and interviewed the executive team and middle management.
When that was completed, I developed a summary report of the interview findings (using specific wording that interviewees provided) and presented that to the executive team and the middle manager advisory team. They reviewed the findings and worked with me to plan a broader feedback process and a full-day retreat to discuss findings and develop plans for reducing turnover and customer complaints.
With care to look at the big picture and not simply patch up turnover processes or revamp the customer complaint process, the middle managers worked on their own for the first 3/4 of the retreat. After a briefing on the interview findings, and building from visioning exercises and structured conversations and brainstorms, the 20-person group created a draft set of altered responsibilities and resources for middle management. Since they're the front line to hear many complaints, they modified approaches to customer service and looked at new ways to support each other in serving customers. They proposed a mentoring system and new pathways for communication among their level and between them and the executive team.
The executive team came to the final segment of the retreat day. The middle managers presented their work and engaged in a conversation with the executives about improving organization culture and selected procedures. Subsequently, I worked with the executive team and the advisory team as they implemented key recommendations and enjoyed improved communications across levels. Now, turnover is stabilized, middle managers have ways to support each other and make changes at their level, and customer issues are handled more effectively.