Executive Coaching Overcomes Hurdles to Promotion

Stephanie was an up-and-coming star in the finance department of a New York City-based healthcare management company. She was smart, talented, resourceful, and loved what she did. People noticed, and Stephanie advanced to increasingly responsible finance roles over a six year period. The company’s CEO wanted to promote her to a high-level executive position, adding Stephanie to the senior leadership team.

But the CEO had a concern — one “problem” stood between a high-performing and loyal employee and a significant promotion. Stephanie’s communication skills were the issue. In a prominent leadership role, the ability to communicate effectively would be critical, and the CEO wasn’t convinced that Stephanie had the necessary ability.

We tend to promote employees based primarily on past performance — how good someone has been in their last role. But new skills are essential for leadership that are different from functionally-specific expertise. For example, leading people requires a higher level of emotional intelligence — a characteristic that might not have been as important in someone’s previous role.

Executive coaching is well-suited for developing leadership skills that go beyond functional and technical know-how. It is a powerful tool for building critical high-level capabilities and advancing careers. Executive coaching takes a person on a journey of self-discovery and helps them break through their personal glass ceilings.

Stephanie’s CEO connected her to an experienced, certified executive coach. The coach worked with Stephanie to structure a one-on-one program of discovery, development, and transformation.

Stephanie’s coach helped her became aware of the way her patterns of thinking, expressing herself, and behavior affected others. For example, Stephanie realized she had a habit of “shutting down” in meetings when she disagreed with what was being said. This was perceived by others as negative and self-centered. Stephanie’s coach helped her use this new-found awareness to create a tangible plan of action to evolve her perceptions, assumptions, and behavior.

Stephanie worked with her coach to implement her personalized development plan to strengthen her communication skills. They met regularly to discuss actions taken, challenges, successes, and best practices. The plan helped Stephanie become open and less emotional about exploring the pros and cons of a particular idea under discussion, whether she agreed with it or not. For more about communication skills, read Arden Coaching’s article, “4 Communication Skills Your Business Leaders Must Possess.”

The results were impressive. Stephanie got the promotion and is now a thriving senior executive and leader. In fact, Stephanie has the potential to become a CEO herself. Stephanie’s boss used executive coaching to get the most out of a talented, valued employee — creating a distinct competitive advantage for the company as well.

The “one problem” scenario happens more often than you may think. For Stephanie it was communication. For another person it might be their professional presence. For another, it might be underdeveloped strategic thinking skills. One of the advantages of executive coaching is that it can be focused to address particular areas of need, such as:

  • Developing communication skills
  • Growing professional presence 
  • Advancing strategic thinking skills
  • Evolving leadership style 
  • Enhancing an individual strength

Don’t bypass a talented employee because there may be a gap in the skills they need to lead. Leverage the power of executive coaching to unlock their full potential.

To learn more about executive coaching and executive development, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.