THE CASE OF THE SUCCESSOR WHO COULD NOT CONNECT
Client Division President, Fortune 500
Problem The CEO planned to retire in a year and selected an internal candidate as his successor, He was concerned because people were complaining about his appointed successor, “He doesn’t listen to us. He doesn’t reach out to build relationships and even seems like he’s not interested in getting to know us.”
The CEO was confused. He knew the Successor could be charming. He asked me to help him groom his successor.
Solution I gathered more data about what he was doing that interrupted his connection with others. I observed him at work. I interviewed his peers and direct reports.
This gave him insight into how he was showing up to others. I pointed out ways his body language made him look closed off and disengaged. He was surprised because he thought he was a good listener.
I worked with him for several months – both in person and virtually. I coached him to be mindful of his body language and to incorporate new behaviors, such as becoming inquisitive, summarizing what a person had just said, nodding and leaning forward in his chair to encourage more conversation and being totally present in the moment.
He said he hated networking so we role-played ways to approach people, start a conversation and look for topics to connect on.
Results The client dramatically improved his ability to connect, and even enjoyed expanding his network and meeting new people. He was promoted. The former CEO told me, “You did a phenomenal job with him. Frankly, I wasn’t sure it could be done.”
THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING DIRECTOR
Client Director R&D, Fortune 500
Problem The CEO told me, “The R&D Director has no executive presence – she disappears in meetings. It looks like she doesn’t have any confidence. I’m afraid this is going to be a derailer for her.”
I talked with the leader and determined she was highly inhibited and introverted.
She told me, “I don’t talk much in meetings because I use meetings to take in information, not give it out. I listen and analyze what I hear later, and then I’m ready to share my ideas. Some people talk just to hear themselves talk. I wait until I have something to say. I don’t like to waste people’s time talking about half-baked ideas. And besides, I think it is rude to interrupt people.”
Solution The Director watched my video-playback of her in a meeting. She could see how she seemed to “disappear” and agreed that others might interpret her silence as disinterest or insecurity.
I coached her to ask the meeting leader to send the slide deck to her before the meeting so she would have time to think about the issue and come up with questions and ideas to share at the meeting. We role played polite ways she could interrupt to interject her thoughts and become a “situational extrovert.”
I also taught her to utilize words and actions that communicated confidence to others.
Results The Director appeared to be significantly more comfortable expressing herself confidently and enthusiastically; Her cohorts gave her extremely positive feedback and began to view her as a decisive leader.
THE CASE OF THE RAMBLING SENIOR LEADERS
Client Four senior leaders of a Fortune 500: VP/Director Marketing, Global Product Marketing Manager, Senior Project Manager, Senior Marketing Manager
Problem The four leaders were promoted to senior positions five months earlier. They needed to learn to be more effective communicators, gain executive presence, and develop their presentation skills.
Solution I coached the leaders as a group for a few sessions and also coached each leader individually for several sessions. I honed in on each leader’s individual specific areas of concern and taught them how to better utilize their strengths. Some of the objectives were:
- stop rambling and be concise
- improve eye contact
- present relevant material well
- answer impromptu questions more quickly and confidently
- become comfortable in front of a camera for web meetings and media interviews
- project enthusiasm
- demonstrate executive presence and charisma
- eliminate distracting filler words or mannerisms
- become aware of their own and others’ body language
- be more engaging and expressive
- communicate more effectively
Results Each leader improved significantly in honing their strengths, diminishing their poor behaviors and demonstrating enhanced executive presence. Combining group sessions with individual sessions not only improved the leaders’ presentation skills, but also enabled them to get to know each other and each other’s jobs better, which resulted in them becoming a stronger cross- functional team.