COACHING CASE STUDY: From Completely Overwhelmed to Thriving in a New Role


Jennifer was coming up on her 5 year work anniversary in the most complex leadership position she had yet to have in her career. She was responsible for leading three separate teams that managed three different organizations within a university. She had put all she had into the role and was meeting and exceeding expectations – her teams were performing well, meeting the needs of instructors and students campus-wide. However, working so hard to keep her head above water was catching up to her.

I was feeling completely overwhelmed. Some of that overwhelm came from the challenges of leading at a university during the pandemic, but most of my feelings of overwhelm came from the same old challenges that I’d been facing since I started the role.

I tried to talk with my husband about what was going on, but when I did, he looked as overwhelmed as I felt! I knew I had to find someone who I could talk with. Someone who could empathize with what I was going through but could also help me think about what I could do to make everything more manageable.

Seeking Help

A few days later I was doom scrolling on Facebook and I happened to see ZMCoach and I thought, you know what? I can give this a few minutes of my time. Why not? So I booked a call. And I could already feel myself become less overwhelmed. I was taking steps to address the chaos that was going on behind the scenes for me.

As Jennifer learned more about how Alida supports clients, she was drawn to the practical suggestions Alida offered, strategies Jennifer could implement immediately at work. She also appreciated how Alida shared the research that backs her methods. After an initial phone call, Jennifer signed on for coaching and immediately got to work.

Alida and Jennifer first worked together to clarify the issues that were making Jennifer feel overwhelmed. From there they strategized how to address each issue.

I remember when I first started working with Alida, during our coaching calls, this word jumble would just come out of me. And she would say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna stop you. Tell me what’s the essence of this.’ That helped me slow down and look at the most important pieces of what was going on at work – letting some of the details go.

With support and feedback from Alida, Jennifer also worked to build her confidence, authentically. Jennifer was getting a lot of positive feedback about her leadership from her team, colleagues, and supervisor, but she hadn’t allowed that positive feedback to sink in.

I realized I am pretty hard on myself. When I slowed down and took a closer look, I realized it’s hard for me to be nice to myself. I can be nice to other people – no problem. So, I started practicing treating myself with the same grace I would give to others.

Working with Alida and the other members of the coaching group helped Jennifer realize she was not alone.

Sometimes you can’t talk to your supervisor or colleagues about what is really going on. I so appreciated having a safe space to talk about the situations I was dealing with at work – it was a tremendous feeling to realize I was not alone.

The Results 

After 6 months of executive coaching, Jennifer celebrated a newfound confidence herself.

I just feel like I’m becoming more of myself. I still doubt myself sometimes, but I take those doubts for what they are. They are just giving information – often times trying to protect me. I listen to those doubts as they come up, but I now know how to keep doubts in their place.

She gained more clarity about the priorities of her role and how the work she and her teams did contributed to that system.

Through coaching, I was able to step back and take a look at what is going on. I realized that in my role, we have a direct impact on people’s careers, it’s their future. That helped me understand why I was feeling so much pressure. It’s natural for me to be so hard on myself – this work is so important. Understanding the system I work in and my role in that system has really been an epiphany for me.

The changes Jennifer made in the way she treats herself and the way she approaches her work has also had a positive impact on others.

Understanding what is going on for me and getting the support I need has allowed me to be more supportive of my colleagues and team members. I have been able to honestly say to colleagues who are having a tough time at work, ‘I really understand what you’re going through.’ I also take time to reach out to colleagues, to be supportive, if I know they are going through a tough situation.

This new perspective and confidence in herself equipped Jennifer to take on a new challenge. A few months ago, she accepted a new role, directing a library in a larger university system.

Thanks to my work with Alida, as life shaped up into its ‘new normal’ after the first wave of the pandemic, I was more confident and better able to discern which issues I needed to address from those that required growth on the part of others. I began to wonder whether it was a good time to seek different challenges, as I do believe it makes sense for leadership to turn over from time to time. When a colleague referred me to the position I now hold, I thought it made sense to explore. With my restored confidence, lessons learned, and a solid set of tools gained from working with Alida, I knew I was ready for a new opportunity.

With continued support from Alida, I made a successful end in my former position – helping those who relied on me make good decisions for their new future – and created new goals to set myself up for success in my new position.

This role offers new challenges, presents some familiar ones in novel ways, and as an added bonus, offers better work-life balance. As time marches forward and I celebrate wins at work and in other areas of my life, I am gaining a better perspective on my own well-being and the role of work in my life. Working with Alida, someone who helps me recognize the best in myself, has enabled me to move ahead with confidence and help others along the way.

We are so proud of the work Jennifer has done to grow and take her leadership to a new level. We are excited to celebrate the positive impact she’ll have as she takes on this new challenge.


Would you like to gain the confidence and clarity you need to thrive in your work? Let’s talk


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