Quadrant 1: Finding Focus

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We will explore each of the Leading with Insight quadrants by following

the progress of Donna, the director in charge of a 40-person

IT services department. Considered a high-potential manager,

Defining the Space for Coaching 31

Donna was offered the opportunity to work with an executive coach

as part of a leadership development initiative within her organization.

Her primary goal was to improve the client satisfaction scores

for her IT services department, and in the process to begin to make

the transition from solid manager to leader.

Donna was a consistent overachiever who drove herself hard to

attain her goals and expected her people to do the same. Donna’s

coach suggested conducting a series of multirater feedback interviews

to gain insight into Donna’s management style, strengths, and

developmental opportunities. Some of the themes that showed up

in the feedback interviews were surprising to Donna. She learned

that although her people respected her intelligence, integrity, and

drive to achieve, many resented the unrealistic expectations Donna

set for them and her persistent habit of taking over their work if she

felt that it was going to deviate from what she wanted. Many of her

colleagues and coworkers stated that Donna could become impatient

when the pressure was high. It was clear to Donna and her

coach that Donna would need to focus on developing a more

collaborative style of leadership to lead her team to the next level.

Donna’s coach suggested that a good place to begin their coaching

work was to examine some of the patterns in Donna’s personal

habits that led her to be short or impatient with others. Donna’s

coach asked her to notice what she did during the day that contributed

to her sense of impatience. Upon reflection, Donna noted

that she tended to overbook her schedule so that she was constantly

running behind. She also noticed that she was a chronic multitasker.

As a result, she often felt like her attention was fractured, and small

annoyances could cause her to snap.

Armed with this awareness, Donna made some small but significant

changes in her personal management, including managing her

schedule more tightly so that she could focus on what she was doing

and get work done between meetings. She also became more attuned

to when she was becoming impatient and started to implement

approaches suggested by her coach to calm herself down before she

got to the snapping point. Within six weeks of working with her

coach, Donna was feeling much more in control of her life.