Case Vignette: Rick, Senior Operations Executive*

Rick was a senior operations executive in a professional services firm. He was unhappy in his position, and his boss, the COO, felt that Rick was not playing an active enough leadership role. Rick was so consumed with putting out fires and helping other people do their jobs that he was not adding value as a firm-wide leader. Unless the situation turned around, Rick would not be promoted.

We began a six-month coaching program to help Rick boost his performance in a way that would make him “promotable” to the next level at the firm.

We began the coaching by reviewing Rick’s career path and assessing his leadership style. I then interviewed several of his peers, stakeholders, and subordinates, and incorporated the feedback into a coaching plan.

Examples of specific areas for Rick to work on include:
• Leveraging Rick’s style for a better fit with the firm’s culture
• The need to push back, especially with peers, in order to do higher level work
• The need for more assertiveness and communication in key meetings
• More visibility and self-promotion with firm leadership
• Formally establishing a clear job description with more ownership of key processes


Case Vignette: Jim, Global Group Managing Director*

Five years ago, Jim was promoted to Managing Director in an asset management organization. He has grown his global group to have increasing impact on winning and keeping some of the firm’s most important clients.

The organization recognizes that Jim has significant potential but needs to strengthen key leadership skills. I work with Jim on an on-going basis, in the role of advisor as well as coach. We have dealt with many issues, including improved collaboration with other groups, frustrations with his senior management, and dissatisfaction with his role. Jim has made significant progress in these areas, and is now focusing on building his skills in influence and persuasion as he interacts with executives in higher leadership roles.

Throughout the coaching assignment, we have worked on how Jim can best motivate and develop the people in his group, giving them a clear sense of mission, and planning for succession. Jim had to make the difficult decision that his most senior direct report is not aligned with the future direction of the group, and should not be his successor. We worked on how, when, and to whom, to convey this information in our coaching sessions.

*Due to the confidential nature of Steve’s executive coaching assignments, clients and their companies are not identified.