COACHING CASE STUDY: The Importance of Finding the Right Environment

With almost 20 years of experience in his industry, Paul (name changed to respect his privacy) was promoted to a Director level position in the fall of 2021. His new supervisor suggested that he work with Alida as he stepped into his new role.

Right away, Paul jumped into learning new skills to make him a more effective leader. With guidance from Alida, he began to look at his own leadership style and strengths and discovered some unique things about himself.

I realized how much I value spontaneity and variety. My dad always says no plan equals chaos. But I like to say, no plan equals fun! I’m the kind of person who has many different ways to get to the office. I get bored driving the same route every day. So even if it takes me 5 or 10 minutes longer, I’ll go a different way. It sounds trivial, but for me, if I’m doing the same thing every day, it would drive me crazy. I like not always knowing what’s going to happen.

Paul identified some benefits of this approach in his work.

I don’t always confirm client appointments. In my experience, in my industry, when I reach out to confirm, more often than not, clients cancel. However, if the appointment stays on their calendars, they’ll usually see me when I arrive. And, if I arrive and they have to cancel, I can adapt easily. I’ve also noticed that if a client must cancel after I show up, they often feel really guilty, are willing to reschedule, and arrive at that next meeting ready to collaborate.

After looking at his own strengths and his preferred style, Paul began to notice the similarities and differences to those of the people he worked with. He began to think about how to adapt his style in different situations, based on what was best for his team.

Being really organized with detailed tasks is not my strong suit. However, as I prepared to hire and onboard a new staff member, I realized I needed to be really organized with how I brought this new person on board. My natural instinct was to not worry about the details – to just trust that this new staff member would get the information she needed. While that approach was comfortable for me, I realized she needed more guidance and structure. So, with support from Alida, I was able to go beyond my natural instinct and was very organized in the entire onboarding process.

Even better, Paul brought his sense of fun to that activity, creating a scavenger hunt of things to learn and people to meet as an onboarding tool.

Another insight Paul had about himself is that he thrives in highly collaborative environments. He likes a lot of feedback from a lot of different people.

I started in my new role as Director around the same time a new leader took over as the head of our organization. As I got to know his working style, I began to realize he did not value collaboration as much as I did.

The way this leader operated often made Paul feel shut out of conversations he should have been in. This leader also made hiring decisions that impacted Paul’s team, without getting input from the team.

I often heard things secondhand about projects I was working on. This was very hurtful – I was conducting a lot of work on these projects and should have been a part of what was happening.

I worked with Alida to address this issue directly. I tried many different strategies to build a collaborative working relationship.

And you know what? I realized that no matter how hard I tried, this leader continued to do the same things over and over again. And I realized this is not the right situation for me. It doesn’t fit my style. It’s not personal. I like this leader as a person. I just don’t thrive when working with this particular style.

Understanding leadership styles (his own and his new leader’s) allowed Paul to take some of the emotion out of a frustrating situation. He knew he had worked hard to try to make the relationship work, but ultimately it wasn’t the right fit for him. With this clarity, Paul opened himself up to the possibility of finding a new role that would tap into his style and strengths more effectively.

He soon learned about a similar position at a larger organization that had more resources and a bigger impact in his industry. As Paul interviewed for this new role, he was very conscious of making sure the role had a good amount of variety and would be part of a collaborative team.

I did multiple rounds of interviews. And through all those rounds, I met with everybody on the team. I was really excited about that step. I even told the hiring manager, ‘I think it speaks highly to what you’re trying to accomplish, that you included everyone in the process.’ And he said that was a conscious choice. That’s the kind of team I wanted to join.

I was able to directly ask the leader at this new company how he approaches his work and how the role I was interviewing for fits into the organization’s mission. He gave me some specific examples of how the person in this role collaborates with him and how he sees us working together. As we talked, I realized I really need to be in a place where everyone collaborates more. It’s just how I operate.

Happily, Paul was offered the position – which not only met his needs for collaboration, but also provided variety through travel and the option to work remotely. And it came with a higher salary.

Taking this role was the right decision for me. Working with Alida helped me clarify what was not working in my current role and gave me the tools to go out and find what I need.

Are you ready to uncover your own personal style and strengths and put yourself in a place where you can thrive? We’d love to help.

 

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