Nishit was a talented vice-president in a large, global engineering company. Few years ago, he was part of the company’s high-potential leadership development program. All of his team members appreciated that he was willing to roll up his sleeves and get down in the trenches with them to share his expert domain knowledge. He was doing outstanding work, yet he never received the recognition he deserved. Senior management found that he lacked social skills and had not yet created a likable leadership style to get his ideas adopted, especially with other lines of business. The HR wanted him to be coached for his ability to bridge his technical skills to people skills. They wanted a coach who was non-judgmental, open, supportive, and most importantly able to bring out the hidden strengths in Nishit.
Diagnosis: Coach Vikram had a discovery session with Nishit and his stakeholders to evaluate his readiness and identify potential barriers to success. This was followed by the Executive Presence Index, a proprietary research-based model of executive presence to measure the behaviours that would enable Nishit to engage, inspire, and move people to act. Results showed that Nishit seemed to be missing out on getting critical data from observing the actions of people around him. He needed to gain observational insights that could possibly be far more important than just listening to what aligns with his meeting agenda. Working on these insights could help him create deeper connections, avoid conflict, and influence business decisions.
Mindset Shift: The secret sauce in this coaching engagement was to make Nishit realize that to become more successful in his current role and expand his spheres of influence, he had to focus not only on content but also on the audience and energy in the meeting room. He realised that listening and observing aggressively will help him to read the room. This will allow him to use his intuition to get a business edge and win.
Behavioural Shift: Coach Vikram noticed that Nishit was not working on building awareness of his emotions, his own and others ideas. Instead, he would often feel dominated by the emotions. Nishit was asked to start noticing the facial expressions and body language of others in the room without judgement. Just observation became a powerful tool for him to understand the energy in the room. With ongoing and intentional practice, the process of social observation dramatically enhanced his ability to pay attention to others and respond insightfully in the moment to business possibilities.
While interacting with diverse stakeholders, a marked improvement was noticed in Nishit’s level of engagement, responsiveness, and people skills. What followed in the coming months was a high degree of self-motivation and ownership by Nishit to work toward Nishit version 2.0 He applied his learned leadership behaviors of social awareness to influence diverse business situations with ease. He was supporting two geographically diverse teams who needed to be led through change, improve performance, and accelerate execution of the corporation’s strategic plan. This created a strong positive perception in the eyes of the management about Nishit’s leadership likeability. Seven months into his coaching journey, Nishit’s newfound flair and finesse helped him get promoted as a group head.