Fixing Executive Impatience
A female senior executive I coached had been told repeatedly that she didn't communicate effectively with colleagues. She didn't understand why. Working one-on-one, I quickly noticed that she often rolled her eyes whenever someone said something she disagreed with, didn't find relevant or thought stupid. As a result, her colleagues tended to cut conversations short with her and drop out of discussions. She didn't know she caused this. After she learned to recognize when and why she rolled her eyes, she asked her colleagues to call her on it and got back to being a good communicator.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
One-on-one coaching is also essential when a serious course correction is needed. I intervened when inappropriate workplace behavior by a COO led to harassment complaints. With this middle-aged man, it was a matter of helping him see that times had changed – what might have been acceptable ten years ago no longer was. Once he understood that the impact and perception of things he said were quite different than his intent, and this was getting in the way of getting the job done, the problem disappeared.
Bringing the Wisdom of Others to Bear
For people I coach who learn by reading, I recommend one or two books or articles, and then we discuss what they find most relevant or engaging. The key, of course, is to suggest books or articles on point with their concerns and to which they can relate. Recent clients have learned much from Marshall Goldsmith's What Got You Here Won't Get You There, Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon’s Make Your Contacts Count, and William Bridges' classic, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes. I've discovered that many of my clients find the books we discuss to be so helpful they, in turn, recommend them to others.