As CIO of a Fortune 100 company in the consulting space, Ajith predominantly needed help in connecting with the executive business leaders. His role required him to deal with the board, as well as speaking to large internal teams and members of the media, and to deliver talks at industry conferences. Ajith had a sharp mind, deep insights, and he worked hard. However, he was uncomfortable with his own presence and came across as reserved and distant. He couldn’t effectively read an audience or communicate his ideas. The board wanted him to develop the executive presence necessary to sell his ideas at the highest levels, by working with a coach who would concentrate on assessing and developing core communicative leadership competencies.
Diagnosis: During the discovery conversations, Coach Vikram diagnosed that Ajith, an introvert, was forcing himself to sound like an extrovert, which gave him an unnatural and awkward presence. Coach Vikram’s EPI™, a scientifically validated measurement tool, was administered to measure specific dimensions of Ajith’s executive presence. The results showed that he lacked the practical know-how to project a persuasive leadership brand message through his appearance and behaviour. Keeping the CIO’s coaching goals in mind, we created a game plan for the next 7 months by working on his communication strategy, style, and delivery.
Mindset Shift: In the initial coaching sessions, Ajith realized that sharing his business knowledge with the board and in his industry would help him build personal visibility and leadership brand. More importantly, he realized that only he could consciously define, represent, and build that personal brand. This mindset shift – for the first time in his 23 career years – inspired him to create a structured action plan to create high-level communications for addressing the media, delivering industry keynotes, and influencing the board.
Behavioural Shift: After developing a clear action plan, Ajith learned verbal and non-verbal presentation techniques to fully express himself and unleash his executive presence. Gradually, he learned to convey confidence with his voice, gestures, language, diction, and facial expressions. Coach Vikram helped Ajith with reviewing and editing documents and guided him extensive practice with articulating and communicating his organizational vision before engaging the media By also shadowing Ajith during presentations, giving feedback after presentations, and offering constant fortnightly support, Vikram helped Ajith make a huge impact with leaders at the executive level and board members.
It took 7 months for the leader to get comfortable with the communication style of weaving his message of innovation into conversations with senior leadership and other stakeholders. Daily intentional small consistent changes in his behavior made three big impacts in his leadership performance: establishment of a strong leadership brand, growth of collaborative partnerships, and increased organizational visibility. Now, Ajith projects a refined image at business meetings and events. When he walks into a room, people notice. When he speaks during meetings, people listen. And most importantly, he loves acing media interviews!