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Case Studies > Case Study 3

Case Study: Director Gains Self Confidence & Thrives in a Political Environment

Janice recently took a position in a new department as director at a large company. She came to coaching to gain more confidence in herself in her new position. Previously, she had been in management in a different area. Earlier in her career, she worked in the field where she is currently a director. While the subject matter is not totally new to her, it has been a while since she has worked in this field.

Shortly after we began working together, Janice revealed that the work with her internal clients was very political. To further complicate matters, her internal clients would often call her boss (now the VP for the area, who formerly held the director's position) to request help and insight, when it would have been more appropriate for them to call Janice or one of the managers reporting to her. The clients did this because they liked her boss, and her boss did not do anything to steer the clients to Janice instead.

Janice's goals "revealed themselves" as we worked together. We started with the goal of gaining more confidence in her new role. Later, we added goals connected to the political nature of her position, such as gaining the confidence of her internal clients and developing procedures and practices for dealing with highly political issues.

We also added goals connected to her relationship with her boss, such as communicating to her boss how her boss' method of handling issues sometimes got in the way of effective communication and efficient work.

Janice felt she was spending excessive time with the issues "on her plate" that could not be delegated. She set a goal to reduce the amount of time spent on each issue. We both recognized that this reduction-in-time-spent-per-issue would happen over time.

Coaching Experience
More than anything, Janice needed a "place" to talk about what was going on in her department and to air the issues and challenges confidentially. She needed someone with a business background who could listen, brainstorm ideas with her, and coach effectively.

Even though she is soft-spoken, Janice is an extrovert when she processes information. I worked with her to pull apart what was going on in her work so that she could look at the situations objectively. Then she could take a look at herself and her abilities, apply her abilities objectively, see that she is capable of handling the issues, and gain confidence.

I also gave Janice some insight into who her clients are, what they are capable of, and where they have huge blind spots. Pulling this together for her was an "a-ha" moment for her, and will help her as she goes forward working with this group.

Janice has put together plans prior to meetings with her clients in order to win them over (while still being herself). Recently, she experienced a "big win" when one of her more powerful client groups changed their minds about a particular action they planned to take. Their change in plans occurred because they accepted Janice's advice on the issue.

Janice has also made discussion plans for when her boss has time to meet with her. While she does not expect quick, deep changes, she is hopeful that her clients and her boss will make small changes each month as she practices drawing them out and builds a relationship with them. With each small change, she gains more confidence that she can do this director's role and that she can do it well.

Post Script
Working at building relationships with the leaders of her more powerful internal client group worked well for Janice, as her vice-president was transferred to lead a completely different group. Since she did not acquiesce to their insistence to only deal with her VP, but strove to build a positive working relationship with them, this worked to her advantage when the time came that her VP was no longer available to them.


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