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WJ Consulting

A Coaching Success Story

I am an executive coach focused primarily on helping nonprofit leaders and aspiring leaders realize their full potential and bring their best professional selves to their work.  After a 6-month coaching engagement with a recently promoted executive at Oxfam America, we parted ways, as planned.  We had made substantial progress in helping him grow into his new role with a healthy mix of confidence, curiosity, and patience.  Top management had very high expectations.   Initially, I gathered 360° feedback informally, via phone interviews, and helped him understand which of his management habits and tendencies were helping him and which were limiting his effectiveness and image.  Using the informal feedback, my client and I crafted practical solutions to adjusting the way he paced his team’s work, shared information, provided guidance and support, etc.  He called me a half year later, and said that he needed more work.  He regressed on some of his progress (sustained some, too) and had identified a new series of challenges, now that his new role and organizational structure had stabilized.  In short, he wanted to push farther and go deeper with the coaching work. For the second coaching engagement, we used The Leadership Circle’s Leadership Circle Profile™ 360° to get richer input on the habits of mind and behavior tendencies that helped and hindered his leadership.  The results were quite an eye opener and contained some surprises that were challenging for my client to process — along with validation of some shining strengths.  A number of reactive tendencies were unearthed — and he “got it” — that no matter how hard you work on some of the more conventional leadership competencies — which my client tried to do with exuberance, determination and great intelligence, if there is a reactive “pull” at play in the way you show up to people, you really cannot sustain a healthy leader-follower relationship.  One’s motives will be questioned.  Through our coaching conversations, my client discovered the ways in which he actually drained the energy of his team.  I used a few coaching techniques to get him to think out loud and probe more deeply.  I believe that hearing himself, for the first time, declare a few important self-observations out loud — owning up to them — triggered a real breakthrough.  Our coaching turned to some practical rituals and tactics that would put the learning into action, so that he could practice his way into new habits and even new fundamental assumptions about himself and others. I spoke to the COO in the course of the coaching work, and he noted the sustained progress in my client’s management style and the tendencies that were most visible to him.  Even more importantly, my client felt and lived the change daily.  He learned how to sustain a more balanced, supportive approach to managing people (and his own energy) and how to avoid over-using his strengths.  He made deliberate decisions about certain frustrations that were not worth trying to change — a let go of some of that “just push harder” tendency.  For someone who is so intelligent and naturally gifted in his work, so ambitious and has such a strong track record as a rising star, such personal change does not come easily. We finished our work several months ago, but I just saw this client, because I was invited back in to coach one of his team members — and the client organization again wants me to administer a Leadership Circle Profile™ 360°, because their first experience with it was so successful. Hilary W. Joel WJ Consulting, LLC

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