A financial leader in a large, global technology company aspired to become a Vice President reporting to the CFO. The culture was one where promotions to this level were few and infrequent. And for many who achieved this level, years of service and collaborative, cross-organization relationships were primary factors, as those were embedded in the norms and core values of the company.
The leader was valued as a deep, technical expert in finance and accounting, and relied upon for her attention to detail, managing to deadlines, rigor and acumen. The next level up however, was about leadership, specifically, executive presence, strategic thinking and influence. And the VP level would require more Board presentations and a communication style effective in that setting. The leader was challenged by these leadership behaviors; she had work to do to develop a strategic mindset and a presence and style that would make her an effective VP. As someone who did not have decades of service nor was a part of the “inner circle,” building credibility and relationships were an ongoing endeavor.
An E.L.I. Partner coached the leader for 9 months. The Partner gave the leader insight to the impact of her current style and mindset, with both qualitative and quantitative data. Over the course of the coaching engagement, the leader developed self-awareness; she began to understand why the behavior changes mattered in her current role and more importantly, why they were critical to the potential VP role. Coaching and goals focused on improving communication style, raising the level of dialogue from the tactical to the strategic, stepping up her attire and grooming, using new influence styles and leading meetings with impact. She practiced these changes and observed the difference in the impact she had within the organization and across her peers, superiors and direct reports.
Within one year of the coaching engagement, the financial leader was promoted to Vice President, the role to which she aspired. The CFO described the coaching engagement and the leader’s transformation as “nothing short of miraculous.”