Director for Education

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Coaching for confidence and development

The Situation

I worked with a young Director, I’m going to call him Simon. Simon is extremely talented, he has been promoted quickly and frequently during his career. However, he’s never been given the leadership or managerial training to equip him for the people management areas of his role. This resulted in him struggling with delegation and doubting his own abilities.

“At the time I began working with Debbie, I was Director of Admissions. I had been promoted quite quickly but until my coaching sessions with Debbie, I hadn’t undertaken any previous training or development to equip me with the managerial and leadership aspects of my role.  I was also overloaded with work (that I didn’t feel confident in delegating), and I’d received some ‘not so positive’ feedback on my communication styles.”
‘Simon’

The Client

Simon had worked his way up in quite a short period of time from being an administrator to his current role as a Director of a Department with responsibility for 50 people and direct line management of 20.

He had been regularly promoted but despite this he had extraordinarily little confidence in his abilities and didn’t think his skills were transferable. And, as frequently happens with this type of situation, where someone is exceptionally good in the roles they’re placed in and consistently promoted, Simon was not given the correct support and training as he progressed.

The Challenge

Operationally Simon was brilliant and had developed the processes and procedures that were implemented in many areas of the business, but he struggled to relinquish control of this and consequently was often overwhelmed.

This was exacerbated by new businesses coming online; the business owners were known for regularly acquiring other companies but not for investing in or valuing their people. However, they had extremely high expectations of performance but kept staffing levels to a minimum.

Whilst he trusted his team to a degree and was supportive of them, he wasn’t able to relinquish control of the business areas he saw as his despite realising that by delegating, it would enable him to do other things he wanted and needed to do.

Although Simon had been promoted to a senior role, he had not had any management or leadership development. He was responsible for 50 staff and has direct line management responsibility for 20 people and there are high expectations from “above” of performance, despite the low number of employees.

He was respected by his team and his superiors, but his people skills needed to be improved. He was seen to be quite blunt and brusque, didn’t use any preamble in verbal or written communication; however, he was highly loyal to all of them.

The Solution

Psychometric Assessment can be used in many areas of businesses; Self-awareness, performance enhancement (historically for remedial work), but now more for advancement (as in Simon’s case) as well as team development and recruitment. I used assessments to unlock areas that may be difficult to deal with and often hidden in conjunction with coaching to help Simon grow in confidence and develop his potential.

I used a combination of three different reports focusing on Simon’s Strengths, Decision Styles and Winning Attitude. It aided me as a coach to focus on how Simon operated on a day-to-day basis, but also highlight his strengths, how he may potentially overuse them but also the areas where he was weaker and how he was under using those areas.

One of the most powerful “learns” for Simon was how brilliant he was at praising his team, often to his own detriment, but he took very little praise himself – even though it was deserved, and often had a negative effect on how he was viewed by peers. A great and in my experience, rare attribute, but the balance needed to be addressed.

Awareness is immensely powerful! By examining our behaviours, we can begin to understand ourselves better, potentially uncovering traits of our personality that we aren’t aware of, which can have an impact on our relationships because of how others may view us because of how we behave and interact with them.

When used with coaching, assessments are great tools to assist the coach in honing their questioning. In Simon’s case it really helped me pick out areas to focus on to build confidence in his ability as a leader but also to focus on the areas that would develop his self-awareness.

Results

By recognising the impact of his approach, Simon’s emotional intelligence factor was raised considerably as well as his leadership skills. This in turn helped him to relinquish control and empower team members. He trained more senior members to take over some of his responsibilities and confidence in the team’s ability grew as did his confidence in his own ability and leadership and he became less controlling.

Simon’s brusque approach was softened, he was able to use small talk with his team, colleagues and board members, resulting in better relationships and reviews.

With coaching he was more aware of his behaviours and able to adapt them to suit situations that presented themselves and was role modelling the behaviours of a future great leader. Simon had always been very appreciative of his team but was now able to articulate good and not so good in a much more palatable way.

Coaching improved Simon’s confidence in his own abilities exponentially. Three months after our final session he applied for and successfully reached the final stage interview for a prestigious organisation. He didn’t get that particular job, but when I first met him there was no way that he would have thought it possible, he didn’t think anyone would want to employ him.

“The sessions I had with Debbie were extremely engaging and I looked forward to them. I found the strengths and leadership profiling that we worked on extremely insightful – it helped me to understand what I needed to work on and directly focused my coaching to work on my leadership skills. The outcome was that my confidence grew exponentially. I was able to delegate work effectively and adapted both my written and verbal communication styles for which I received fantastic feedback from both my team and the senior leaders.”
‘Simon’

Next Steps

“You learn something every day…. Every day’s a school day…”

These old sayings are as true now as they have ever been, probably even more so. I am a great believer in continuous improvement, there is always more that we can do to get closer to becoming the person that we want to be.

When we are really busy and stressed it is very easy to slip back into our comfort zone and we can forget and not use things that we learn, a coach will help to get you back on track. Leaders often benefit from having a coach, not just to help them achieve something specific goals, but to throw ideas around that they might not consider voicing with their team or their peers. A coach provides a safe, judgement free space to enable them to get things out of their head and into the open or even have a rant, reducing stress.

Because of the environment that Simon worked in, having a coach in the future would help him to keep his personal development on track, make sure he wasn’t slipping back into his old controlling ways, therefore reducing his overwhelm and stress whilst keeping his self-esteem and confidence topped up.

We all need a safe space that a coach provides, we probably don’t need it all of the time, but knowing that there is somebody there to call on when you do is comforting.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their growth.”
John Whitmore

If you’d like coaching yourself, or feel that your team would benefit from improved confidence, greater self-awareness and increased emotional intelligence, then contact me today to get started.