After 30 + years as a technician, manager, and director of technical operations and safety for several jet aircraft companies, our coaching client was brought into a new organization as a VP of Technical Operations. Two years in, the senior leader of the department, who was our client’s direct supervisor, who had run the department for over 20 years using antiquated handwritten protocols retired. This caused chaos throughout the system because important data was not digitized, organized, searchable or accessible. Out of frustration, our client felt compelled to take on the challenge of building an IT infrastructure and new protocols for the team. While the client’s direct manager and the broader leadership team welcomed the initiative, Management became concerned that this initiative was consuming the client’s time and negatively impacting performance. Specifically, the leadership team saw a decline in technical acumen, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Our client’s normal disposition when working with others also suffered. Whereas historically the client had been easy to collaborate with, their approach to implementing change had become directive and was causing tension with colleagues.
Given the urgent need to quickly address the tensions on the team, we quickly homed in on helping the client to manage their stress so that they could more effectively manage the interpersonal dynamics on the team. The insights gained through the use of emotional intelligence and leadership assessment tool helped us to work on building the client’s self-awareness, empathy, assertiveness and impulse control. The goal was to slow down enough to allow for more reflection prior to problem-solving and decision-making so that they could better assess the potential impact of decisions on stakeholders and team members prior to acting. Learning to prioritize and managing competing demands were also addressed. Our process for this 5-month coaching engagement included discovery interviews with our client and their immediate superiors as well as a couple of well validated assessments.
As a result of our work, the client was better able to manage their stress more effectively. This allowed the client to consider their approach when trying to influence colleagues and regain their acumen with problem-solving and decision-making. Team members noticed the client’s new manner almost immediately, tensions dropped, and colleagues became more receptive and appreciative of the client’s efforts to standardize and digitize the protocols. Our client soon became known as a “go to person,” respected and admired for their technical expertise and easy-to-work-with-while-getting-things-done style. At the end of the engagement, our client noted, “It was my pleasure and honor to work with you to ‘sharpen the saw,’ as the late Stephen Covey would say. Affirmation of my leadership style was the pinnacle of our activities and a validation of my career direction. You were an excellent listener, not judgmental, and your comments always hit the high points. You provided a safe environment to share, critique, and learn, and exhibited an interest in the subject of discussion by asking questions, commenting on the situation, and providing a meaningful solution for the stated issue. I cannot think of a more effective coach. With your input, guidance, and interactive discussions, I learned valuable lessons, which I am actively employing in dealing with situations and behaviors. Thank you for your patience, interactions, and insight.”