A senior marketing director within a global media organisation achieved outstanding success managing a marketing campaign for an acclaimed UK artist. However, there were reservations about her managing future campaigns with the artist. Behaviour with a new supporting team member threw doubt on her ability to effectively manage her team.
Primarily a solo contributor, she had established strong relationships within her portfolio of clients. Many of whom refused to work with anyone else. Her clients saw her as both ‘credible and trustworthy’. Continuously demonstrating her competency and success were, in her view, highly rated by her managers and their primary focus – even if at times she displayed her annoyance with others, she felt this was acceptable.
Used to delivering volume of work she was intolerant of people who thought and acted more slowly than herself. This attitude extended to more senior managers as well as the new team member.
There was a further perception by line management that she did not share information or keep them sufficiently abreast of developments within her portfolio of clients.
The organisation valued her overall contribution but felt that aspects of her style and behaviour needed careful change and chose to engage a professional coach. The Marketing Director was initially hugely sceptical and distrusting of the coaching programme. Viewing it as an irrational and un-necessary activity, with concerns that others would deem it remedial not developmental. Time was set aside upfront to reset her concerns prior to the programme beginning.
Impact of Coaching
With the help of a coach, she came to understand the source of her intolerance and to realise the effect that it was having on her reputation and career. She came to see that while people admired her energetic creativity, they feared her volatile behaviour, which caused some team members to withdraw support.
After engaging with 10 x 2, one to one coaching sessions over a period of 12 months, she developed a more balanced and thoughtful approach to others. Her first break through was acknowledging the mixed emotions she felt from being offered a coaching programme. She faced her fears – losing a beloved job – before confronting her unhelpful behaviours and taking responsibility for how these had recently undermined her reputation.
As she replaced her unhelpful behaviours with those suited to the needs of the recipient, thereby accommodating their preferred style of communication, she increased the effectiveness of her interactions with others. In particular, with her skeptical line managers and with all new hires.
Rather than rushing her communications, she took time to explain herself clearly, with particular emphasis on what she required from junior team members. She also made a conscious effort to check the other person’s understanding before moving onto the next task. Next, she experimented with different time efficient ways of delivering updates to her managers; alternating between face to face contact when in the UK and video conferencing when travelling until she established a method and pattern that suited each manager.
Over time the individual and managers reported a marked improvement in her relationship management effectiveness; she successfully hired and trained a new team member, delegated global activities across the team, winning the respect and trust of her colleagues.
She also became an ambassador of the company wide initiative to introduce a coaching culture.