June 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation: Dealing with a difficult leader

Anita is the third executive assistant for this CEO. She was hired because of her credentials and calm demeanor. After being in the role for almost six months, she has not been her best and HR is unsure of her future.

The Solution:

Anita’s calming demeanor is a real asset and she is task driven like the CEO. The path to Anita’s growth is to make quicker decisions without being reactive. The CEO is a dominant director and is not interested in all the details. He needs enough data to feel reassured that situations are being handled. Anita and the CEO established some timeouts so that when a situation is out of balance, there is a meeting of the minds.

The Outcome:

The challenges continue but there are fewer major ones. Anita and the CEO work through their differences and feel more confident engaging with their different communication and process styles. The end results are more positive than negative.

The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Jhumpa Lahiri

May 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation:Building Relationships and Engaging Leaders

Andy was brought in to develop key best practices for organization leaders. However, he got off on the wrong foot in meeting with the leaders by asking what was viewed as “I am smarter than you” questions. A year has gone by with no key initiatives in place and he continues to struggle to secure management buy-in.

The Solution:

Andy is a subject matter expert with many wins from previous organizations. He has been resilient enough to make changes when needed. Unfortunately, in his initial meetings with stakeholders he left them the impression that he knew more than they did. They resented his direct style and flippant remarks. In fact, the senior leaders are beginning to think about replacing him.

Andy realized that he needs to find opportunities to work on earning stakeholder respect and to build confidence with them on their views. Andy began developing critical active listening skills focusing on not immediately responding. He learned to read the audience, grasp what was said and stay between the lines by not immediately challenging their points of view. Andy worked on understanding how to continually modify the process by applying effective listening skills and empathetically adapting to different communication styles.

The Outcome:

Senior leaders are noticing changes. Andy has made it a priority not to interrupt in meetings. He waits to be asked for an opinion. He continues to handle tricky situations by creating strong relationships with the stakeholders. Andy is making real progress creating some best practices that incorporate input from peers and stakeholders.

Networking is an essential part of building wealth. Armstrong Williams

April 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation: Leadership presence

Jane was considered for a general manager job. She brought experience in the field and a well-known success rate in handling controversial clients in her previous organization. The challenge for Jane in the new organization was that her lack of presence eroded the confidence of the leadership team. They were concerned that future board interactions would be ineffective.

The Solution:

Jane needed polish in her communications and presence approaches with senior leaders. In her previous smaller organization, she worked mainly in the trenches. Her combination of wardrobe and grooming choices (hair style and color) hurt her presence. Jane needed a personal brand and quickly became excited about developing one. The new Jane eventually exuded a brand of leadership presence, effective listening skills and a sensitivity to adapting to different communication styles.

The Outcome:

The senior leaders immediately noticed the changes in Jane’s appearance along with the way she handled difficult situations. She created strong client and board relationships and earned a promotion to a general manager!

The power of a handshake – What does your handshake say about you? Do you know?

March 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation: Practice makes perfect

Last month Emily broke down her subject matter with examples and stories. How do we get her to open and close her class each time with a “wow” so they want to come back to the next class and filled with excitement about learning?

The Solution:

Emily is shy, introverted and does not like practicing. We video-taped her doing an easy interview that ran about 20 minutes. Emily found that she liked herself. The tape erased all fear that she would be horrible in front of an audience. We then began taping her open and close for each of her classes. We moved on to quick ten-minute clips of her classes. We shot some on the Go to Meeting platform or Emily sent the clips to me. We reviewed them with an eye to see what worked and what needed strengthening. Emily began to gain more confidence and began to work through class bumps in timing and questions.

The Outcome:

Last year, her evaluations ranged 2.5 to 3.5 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest score). The evaluations measured teaching style, time management, clarity of deliverables and class engagement. This year, at midterm, her scores ranged from 3.5 to 4.5!  Emily will work on the 3.5 marks which mainly reflect timing issues. The Dean is quite pleased and Emily herself is thrilled. Most importantly, she and her students are finally engaged.

There is not a soul who does not have to beg alms of another, either a smile, a handshake, or a fond eye. Lord Acton

February 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation: Engaging the Audience

Emily is a researcher and teach lead in a class for new associates about the critical elements in her expertise. The evaluations have not been positive during the last two years. Emily realizes her lecturing does not inspire class engagement even though she was taught to lecture this way. Senior leaders are concerned and stress that changes are needed.

The Solution:

Emily is a respected PhD in her field. Our goal for her is to break down her subject matter into chunks that will engage her audience by using stories and discussing things allowing the class to experience each research element. We worked on a redesign of her visuals (more pictures – less words), a strong session open / close and on ways to secure audience participation. Also, Emily wants to have fun with the class and learn to answer questions more succinctly. If an question requires a longer explanation, she could discuss it after class.

The Outcome:

Participant evaluations and comments now indicate they are energized by the classes! Emily finds herself really enjoying them, too. She is also gaining the confidence as a teacher to be more flexible in the classroom and adjust, if needed, because of timing constraints or if more time is needed for questions. The senior leaders are pleased especially about hearing the positive remarks from the participants!

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.