We get to see a lot of very interesting clients in our coaching, but every so often we have a stand-out person, who really makes the insights we provide their own and accelerates their leadership practice and career immensely. Tanya (not her real name) came to us in the hope of learning some more about how to be a great leader for her team. We quickly realised that Tanya was vastly underselling her leadership skills and wasn’t aware of the level of influence she had with her peers and senior managers. Tanya didn’t need help with being a better leader for her team, she needed to gain self-awareness of her potential in shaping the organisation she was working for and she needed to learn to drop some of her perfectionist tendencies to free up time for working strategically.
Based on our analysis of her interactions with peers and superiors, it didn’t take her long to realise that she really was able to influence all the way up to the top of her organisation, including with board members. Once Tanya realised the level of respect her peers and executives had for her skills and leadership capabilities, she was open to explore with us how to put this to use. The first step was to work with her to help her see the opportunity costs of being a perfectionist and spending too much time on purely operational issues and improvements. This is a frequent topic in our coaching and we have developed an efficient process for making the behaviour conscious and helping the coachee implement a different approach that still gets great results without the over-investment in getting the last 2% ‘right’ which characterises perfectionist behaviour.
The next step was to help get Tanya a promotion, as she was one level below where she should have been based on her contribution to the organisation. Tanya made her desire for a promotion known to her boss and was surprised to learn that a position would be opening up within weeks! Lacking political nous and the requisite networking, she had had no idea that this was on the cards. We crafted a way of positioning her for the new role and based on this both her manager and key peers indicated they would be happy to advocate for her promotion. Tanya blitzed the internal recruitment process and secured the advance within just 2 months of working with us.
As she was able to keep part of her team and she inherited a well run team in addition, she could maintain a significant degree of focus on building her network inside and outside the organisation. We worked Tanya through creating her executive brand, so that she could confidently introduce herself at any level. This paid off within weeks, when she was invited onto a strategic working group as her manager felt she would be better suited to attend than him! Now Tanya was starting to get the idea of what it meant to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities inside her organisation. Her increased exposure to the executive level earned her quick admiration based on her ability to work through complex commercial issues.
This ability to get traction at the executive level based on commercial acumen is something we see not just in clients like Tanya, but this is a common thread to much of the work we do, even with executives. For some reason not enough managers and senior leaders develop the necessary commercial approach as they progress towards the executive, they remain stuck in their specialist, technical mindset and therefore cannot effectively collaborate across functional areas. Collaboration and influencing requires understanding the other person’s point of view, their motivation and their constraints. This means understanding their language and being able to talk in their currency are a prerequisite for collaborating effectively.
We are still working with Tanya, albeit less frequently than before. She has continued to use our insights to identify potential opportunities before they become obvious to others and she has developed a level of comfort in using her personal brand for networking inside and outside the organisation she is in. Her status continues to rise, but she has not forgotten to look after her team and to develop a succession plan should she be able to move into the executive in the near future.
If you would like to organise a free 45 minute initial consultation to learn more about how our leadership and executive coaching can help you achieve your goals, please call our office on 1 300 860 807.