Imrie is a high potential leader who is in a middle management position in a large multi-national organization. She is smart, driven and candid about what she wants to achieve.
Moving up the corporate ladder is definitely on her list. Her manager appreciates her strengths and has recently identified an area of development for Imrie that she is struggling to understand.
He believes her lack of collaboration skills is, and will, continue to hold her back. He, along with her HR Business Partner, suggested Executive Coaching as a way to explore this attribute and ultimately help her achieve her goals.Imrie was both hesitant about the concept of working with a Coach and excited to think this might support her ‘fast track’ to the C-suite!
Our engagement started with a three-way conversation with me, Imrie, and her manager to identify the specific area he felt would be a good focus for the coaching engagement. Imrie and I then moved into the 100% confidential 1:1 coaching space for our subsequent sessions.
After hearing Imrie’s story of how she got to where she is now, and her goals for where she wants to be, I asked, “What do you think about your manager’s assessment of what might be holding you back?”
Imrie was quiet for a minute and then said, “Honestly, I really don’t know if he is right. I have always got positive feedback on my drive, my creativity, my output, and ability to get my teams to perform.”
Then she added, “I am able to get things done with other teams, so how could I do that if I’m not good at collaborating?”
“Hmmm interesting,” I pondered. Then I asked, “If I spoke with peers in other departments, what would they say about how you get things done?”
“I don’t think I understand what you mean.” Imrie said.
“What would they say it is like working with you when you are ‘getting things done’?” I restated.
Imrie thought about this for a few minutes. “I know I can be pretty demanding, but it is for the good of us all that we come in on time and on budget so we can be successful. And we want the best possible solution, so I drive hard to make sure that happens.” She stated proudly.
“Would they say they enjoy collaborating with you? That they get excited about the potential to work together with you on projects?” I asked.
Then she went on, “I figure if we are all achieving our goals, that’s the most important thing and they should be happy about that.”
“Outside your project work, do they ever reach out to you to seek your support or brainstorm something or ask for your perspective and guidance?” I tried to dig further.
Imrie was quiet again while she pondered this question. Finally, she said quietly, “I can’t really think of the last time any of them reached out to me on something that wasn’t directly involved with our project.”
We sat with that thought for a moment.
“A very wise CEO once shared this perspective with me,” I offered.
“Driving other people to achieve results will only get you so far. At some point you need people to want to follow you! You need them to be excited to collaborate with you to achieve results and to win together!”
Imrie was silent.
After a few minutes I asked, “Is it okay if I ask another perhaps more challenging question?”
“I’m almost afraid to say yes,” Imrie chuckled nervously.
We had a laugh for a moment, then I asked gently, “What would your peers say about who takes credit for the success of the joint projects?”
Imrie was again silent as she contemplated this question. She began with a bit of a protest, insisting she gives credit to others. After some more exploration, she admitted that she likes the glory of the win and perhaps is not as generous with her inclusion of others in that glory.
“Could this be what your manager is referring to when he says that ‘lack of collaboration skills’ will hold you back?” I asked.
“Perhaps.” She agreed. “It’s something I am going to have to sped a lot more time exploring to understand fully.”
“What prevents you from being generous to include others in the win?” I asked.
Imrie and I explored the value of generosity for executives and managers. We dove into her beliefs and assumptions around the topic and worked to understand what drives her lack of generosity toward others.
As we were exploring, Imrie landed on this insight. “I grew up in a household where we were taught that if you are too generous, people will take advantage of you. I never realized how much that concept has played into how I work, or perhaps don’t work well, with others.”
In that very first session we began to craft an action plan to help Imrie further explore her beliefs around generosity and collaboration. We also created a plan for her to seek some candid feedback from her peers. Her first goal was to fully understand her impact and then work to identify ways to shift her behaviour.
Jack Welch said, “The single most important attribute of leadership is generosity.”
Do you see yourself as a good collaborator?
How generous are you with your praise of others and their work?
How often do you share the spotlight and the credit?
What would your peers say about collaborating with you?
At Epiphany Coaches we feel so strongly about this attribute that it is one of the 5 competencies of the Relationship Intelligence - RQ Model we developed. We believe being good at ‘relationship’ is your competitive advantage. It drives employee engagement and bottom-line business results.
For more information on exploring your own relationships skills or to take the RQ Assessment click here.
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