Case Study – expanding our business persona

I discovered early in an assessment that the individual I was coaching had a stammer. This man in his early 30s had managed to progress to MD level within a FTSE 100 all the time disguising and managing his own anxiety and concern about stammering.

We had been introduced to see if coaching could help him make the step up to Vice President. While paying attention to the business objectives I found my attention being drawn to the question of his stammer. On asking him about it I found that he had developed his stammer around the age of six and that ever since he had been using techniques to manage it. For example while engaged in a conference call he would be planning his sentences so as to make sure that he could spot and replace any trigger words that would otherwise threaten to start his stammer off. One of the problems of this was that he said less than he might otherwise want to, and so his line manager and senior colleagues viewed him as quiet and questioned his potential for promotion.

Essentially, in the coaching conversations we gave him permission to stammer. This caused some noise and disquiet, which had to be carefully worked with. His line manager helped support the idea that his business persona would benefit from a bit more noise. My coachee could see that the work was liberating reservoirs of energy that hitherto were being kept out of his business performance.

A year after we started working together he was promoted to VP. It seemed to both of us that creating a safe space for fuller exploration of who he was had made it easier for him to become more vocal in other situations and relationships and to demonstrate more of his senior business identity.

Case Study – Coaching Myers Briggs INTJ profiled individuals

I have worked with a high number of Myers Briggs INTJ type profiled individuals. This character type is often characterized by their preference to engage with the technical details of work while being less comfortable with social interactions. This character type tends to be good at managing complex and technical projects but can baulk when it comes to developing the relationships attendant upon such projects. This character type can struggle to demonstrate that they are able to make the step up to more senior managerial positions with greater line responsibility.

Similarly, a number of professionals, lawyers and accountants for example, can be under the impression that future career success will follow the fact that they are experts. It can come as a surprise to learn that this is not the case. Technical expertise is taken as a given in big firms, but often the thing that determines success is more to do with our capacity to develop relationships that lead to new business generation. Being expert in itself is not enough, the expertise needs to be linked to developing quality commercially focused relationships.

The coaching work involves opening up the less known relational side of the individual. And this, being less known to the coachee, can feel like they are being drawn away from their comfort zones and into unsettling territory. In the coaching work it is important to contain the anxiety and to take care to think through what relationships need to be nurtured and developed. Often providing a secure coaching framework for the coachee to think through their lateral, upward and downward relationships can do much to settle anxieties and create new opportunities for the individual to demonstrate the care they can bring to managing others.