A high-level manager with a few years at his current employer but with 30 years working in the industry was identified as in need of leadership development coaching. He was perceived as not being warm or nice and unapproachable, overly intense and felt that buy-in from his direct and indirect reports was a waste of time because he knows what he is doing and what is best. He only recently received this feedback from his supervisor, even though an HR leader had noticed it earlier and shared it more than once.
He responded by saying that if there is a problem, he was willing to work on it sooner than later. In our interview, he expressed what had already been shared with me. He felt that he was being singled out for this, that this development program would be punitive, and that others would see it that way, too. He was resistant to our collecting 360° feedback on behalf of his employer; knowing that while it would provide him with more honest feedback, it would bring attention to him and again, and seen as punitive to him. He would have been willing to participate in both the feedback and the coaching if others were offered the same program. He originally provided a list of 10-15 supervisors, some his peers, others at a level below, making it look more like a company-wide initiative. Initially, the employer was considering one other person to appease his concerns.
During his interview with me, everything flowed well in the first half until he started sharing his perception on how this should be conducted. When I responded that the company was not likely to involve a great many individuals in the same program just now, due to the cost, he was insistent on at least his two peers. In response, I asked him what other solution there could be, and he had none. After our interview, I shared my concern with his supervisor and HR that his suggestion would mean that we would be collecting data on two individuals for which there was no apparent need at this time, involving many as respondents to their feedback and never acting upon it, for sole reason of appeasing him. Another option was to forego the feedback and construct a coaching program based on the input of his supervisor and HR. In the end, another coach was chosen and I’m not sure what they settled on for his program. This did not surprise me because I was not convinced that he really recognized the impact of his behavior and the fact that he needed to take ownership of it regardless of what others may perceive. Holding on to the concept that it was punitive rather than an opportunity to adjust performance issues that he probably had for quite some time and have finally caught up with him in his current role. A coaching client needs to be ready to do the work necessary to make the changes that are warranted. In the email from HR telling me that they went with a different vendor, she expressed her own concern on a positive outcome to this situation.
"If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you." - Frank DeVito