Join Sara Canaday for an in-depth discussion in this video Coaching story: Julie, part of Transitioning from Manager to Leader.
- In this section, we discuss the importance of personal growth, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, executive presence, and thought leadership. Now, I'm going to share a story about one of my coaching clients who learned exactly why these skills are pivotal for success. The senior vice president of a major technology company needed to choose a leader for a company-wide initiative. The obvious choice was the manager of her top performing department, a woman named Julie. Now, Julie was known for being sharp and talented, but her colleagues perceived her to be hyper-productive and overly focused on the job at hand, reliable and driven, but not necessarily influential and inspiring.
Still, the senior VP believed in Julie's potential, so she suggested an executive coach might be helpful. In our first meeting, I asked Julie to describe some of the characteristics of people who have that x-factor, or executive presence. She said, well, you know, they're naturally outgoing, they dress the part, they play the game. They're decisive, they're strong communicators, and people pay attention when they have something to say.
Then I asked Julie, okay, tell me about leaders you admire, people that you have thought about throughout your career, what was their approach like, how did they come across? She said, well, they were wicked smart, but never made me feel uncomfortable or intimidated, they always had a road map, but weren't afraid to change directions. They were put together, in charge, self-assured, confident, but still surprisingly relatable and real.
Julie said working for leaders like that always made a difference. I could sense their commitment, she said, and I really appreciated their candor. They were compassionate too. Our team would've done anything for them. Get there early, stay late, whatever it took. That's real impact, real influence, the kind that makes a team feel valued and compelled to work harder. She had experienced it, now she needed to produce it.
If she wanted to prove that she was really ready for a higher profile assignment, she needed to increase her executive presence. It was time to dive in. I said Julie, I want you to focus on how you make your team members feel. Tell me, how would your team describe you? She responded, well, determined, very focused. And that lead me to ask, very gently, Julie, do you think your natural serious demeanor might be making others feel uncomfortable, like you may be too intense or even a little intimidating? Through our conversations, Julie began to see things from their view, that she was so focused on deliverables that she had little concern with how the process impacted the team.
Not a big motivator. I challenged Julie, take a step back and strengthen your relationships with your colleagues. Work to put them at ease. If you're going to build rapport, show a little more vulnerability. Be more transparent, tune in and demonstrate you care about them not just their to-do list. Julie struggled to implement these ideas at first. It felt like she wasn't investing her time wisely when there were so many projects due, but then she started to see the changes because she changed the way they experienced her.
As a result, the meetings she led were uber productive and you could feel the energy in the room. And yes, the top executives noticed. Julie was tapped to lead the corporate initiative. The project was a huge success and her career potential moved to a whole new dimension.
- Looking and sounding like a leader
- Increasing your emotional intelligence
- Becoming a thought leader
- Expanding your strategic scope
- Viewing challenges with a fresh lens
- Improving your decision-making skills
- Cultivating conditions for team success
- Building meaningful connections