Working with women at senior levels is such an exciting thing to do because bigger challenges equal bigger potential for results!
Most of us learn best when hearing about real experiences, so I thought I’d share with you a case study in leveling up your leadership based on a fantastic woman I’ve worked with recently. Confidentiality is key so names and some details have been changed.
Kathryn came to me at a stage when she was absolutely killing it at work.
Her career was going well and her performance was running circles around everyone else.
Even though she was absolutely flying she was interested to explore what she could still work on to improve – we all have something!
We met for a chat and she told me that there were a couple of things that were niggling her. Firstly, even though she was at the top of her organisation she felt she wasn’t being recognised properly for what she delivers. It meant she didn’t feel as valued as she could be and she suspected she wasn’t being rewarded as highly as the rest of the leadership team.
Secondly, she wasn’t sure how the rest of the team perceived her and what that meant for the next steps. I asked her where she would be in terms of succession for the next level and she confided that she didn’t see promotion on the horizon…”I may need to look somewhere else.”
Digging a little deeper it also came out that despite Kathryn’s confident demeanor, what she displayed didn’t necessarily match up with what she felt inside. That meant that she sometimes held herself back from sharing expertise and speaking up in the boardroom. She knew she had something valuable to add but at times wasn’t saying it because she thought “it’s not my place” or “I might not be listened to”.
This is a common fear for many of the women I coach.
Obviously, we spent time defining goals. The thing about goals is that sometimes you THINK you know what they are. In Kathryn’s case, she decided it was to leave the organisation and continue her career elsewhere. However, with a little digging, we got to a place where her actual goal was a little different.
What she really wanted was to be seen, valued, and to get to the position she deserved in her current organisation. From there she could make a really good decision about what to do next.
What did we do to make it happen?
We worked on 3 key areas; visibility, relationships, and communication which is entwined with both.
To understand where we were starting we needed to get a clear picture of how Kathryn was perceived. What did the CEO and the rest of the board think of her? What did they perceive her strengths and value to be?
This was achieved through a combination of feedback and increased social awareness of her impact.
We then looked at how to increase her visibility. She was an incredible performer in the workplace, no mess, no fuss she just gets it done. Every. Single. Time.
Leadership was in her bones.
But it was clear that she wasn’t getting the visibility she deserved because everybody else would bring their problems to the boardroom – whereas she would bring results – and not communicate the complexity of achieving them. So, it seemed like everybody else was working incredibly hard and maybe she wasn’t. What was happening was that she was just solving her own bloody problems and not making a fuss about it!
So, we worked on a strategy for communicating her value, her impact on the business and her performance. The what and the how behind the results – in the language and style that worked for the people that needed to see her more clearly. She needed to be more visible and she achieved it by having the confidence to speak up much more frequently. There are no more ‘I wish I’d said…’ moments in the boardroom. She owns her knowledge and expertise and feels now that it’s her duty to share it.
Alongside this, it was crucial to develop key strategic relationships. Women often find this bit disingenuous, because they’ve seen it done that way before. That’s not the way I roll!
It was clear that Kathryn needed more influence for her own good and the good of the company. She had been so busy getting the job done many of her relationships had developed in a transactional way.
We worked on developing a stronger working relationship with the CEO. This involved changing what and how she reported back, how she had meetings, and informal communication. She adapted her style so that he would understand, relate, and get on board with what she was saying much more easily.
Her visibility has gone through the roof.
She has been recognised as the key number two player in the organisation below the CEO, has been promoted and she has been rewarded properly into the bargain!
Kathryn has always loved to fix things and overcome difficult problems within an organisation. We made this work by increasing her profile and increasing her credibility for problem-solving. She had been ‘hiding’ this all along! Now she has maximum IMPACT!
That is what leadership coaching does.
She has gone from being an amazing performer to being properly recognised as one of the top performers in the organisation. She has been rewarded, valued, and achieved massive recognition for it too.
That’s what I love about executive coaching.
Clients like these are 100% why I am so excited about my executive mastermind! I’ve had lots of these results. When you grow this by creating a platform to share these experiences with other women in leadership it is powerful. Being able to share challenges and wins that you are experiencing is a huge opportunity. You learn from it. You grow from it. There are big results and rewards waiting for you. Together you Rise and Shine.