When a coached leader says that the coaching engagement ‘exceeded all expectations and was life altering’ and this is echoed in the Sponsor’s feedback as well, we know that yet another journey has become successful, thanks to the abilities and commitment of our Coach and the process followed.
This time it was Transition Coaching, a segment which forms a large part of executive coaching engagements at CFI. It aims at helping leaders during that critical time in their careers when they have taken on a new role and are grappling with the pressure of having to establish credibility quickly with either new colleagues, new deliverables or usually both.
How can a coach can help smoothen out a transition and make it more focused and less stressful for the leader? More importantly, how does one do it in a structured and measurable way? At CFI we stress on process. Our coaches take it even higher when they apply their own systems to ensure transparency and success.
Shakthi was a functional head in a plant involved in the metals business and had just been elevated from heading a functional role in one plant to Unit Head of another. He was a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and well respected in the organisation. It was the first time he was moving out of his comfort zone to handle a general management role with P&L responsibility.
Our coach was appraised by the sponsor of very specific business deliverables that Shakthi would need to work towards. The coach balanced it by making the sponsor aware of behavioural goals which would be needed to achieve these business goals. However, more than other coaching agendas, Transition coaching usually involves a flavour of mentoring for business deliverables, as true success happens when behaviours result in achievement of business goals as well.
The goals for the engagement from the Sponsor’s perspective focused on the transition from a functional manager to a leader and included aligning Shakthi’s new team with the Unit Priorities, Shaping the culture, and Managing External Relationships. In addition to this our coach got more information about Shakthi through 360-degree feedback interviews and a psychometric instrument to ensure he had information from different sources that would help him discover patterns of behaviour along with the Shakthi.
The trust that the coach was able to establish helped Shakthi introspect and reflect on his own challenges and fears. The biggest need that emerged was the need for perfection; something that most SMEs strive towards. Being someone who was willing to process the feedback received, Shakthi was easily guided to cut out the noise of his own self-talk and get more focused on his goals.
The coach partnered with him in creating an integrated action plan where the ‘how’ of achieving the goals led to nine behaviors that were regularly tracked on a real time basis by both. These included remaining connected to the peer group, involving relevant people in decision making, delegation, and empowering people while also being mindful of how one navigates emotions. Supporting articles and videos shared helped Shakthi understand and try out new behaviours at work. He would regularly record his experiences in a shared document as part of the tracking mechanism.
A closure 360 feedback on the identified behaviors was taken, that confirmed the change observed in most behaviours was significant or at the very least, moderate.
A significant moment in this engagement was when Shakthi came back to the coach in one of the check-in calls and shared an interesting challenge – he was finding it difficult to reflect and journal! Journalling is one of the most powerful tools for self-reflection. So, our coach helped by creating for him a basic format with a set of inviting statements triggering Shakthi’s reflections. This support seems to have helped because the ability to reflect became so strong that when there was an additional goal that came up in later conversations with the Sponsor, Shakthi volunteered to take the responsibility of working on it, himself.
The coached leader had become independent and capable of overseeing his own growth and development. This sense of responsibility and confidence is what every CFI coach aspires for in each leader they work with.
Note: This client story is representative of only the essence of the work that happens in each engagement. For more information on Executive Coaching: Executive Leadership Effectiveness | Coaching Foundation India (cfi.co.in)