As CIO of a Fortune 100 company in the consulting space, Ajith predominantly needed help in connecting with the executive business leaders. His role demanded him to deal with the board, speak to large teams, media, and 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 and communicate his ideas. The board wanted him to develop the executive presence necessary to sell his ideas at the executive level. The client was seeking a coach who would concentrate on future options and choices of the client and include 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 the executive presence of the leader. The results showed that he lacked the practical know-how to project a persuasive leadership brand message through his appearance and behaviour. The EPI action report recommended him to dial up his interaction and communication with three key audiences: the Board, the industry, and the media. Keeping the CIO’s coaching goals in mind, we created a gameplan for the next 3 months by working on his communication strategy, style, and delivery.
Mindset Shift: In the first 2 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. And only he could consciously define, represent, and build his personal brand. This mindset shift for the first time in his career, inspired him to the idea of creating a structured action plan to create higher-level communications for addressing the media, delivering industry keynotes, and influencing the board.
Behavioural Shift: Within just 2 weeks of working on this coaching journey, Vikram helped Ajith with a coaching roadmap targeted at specific actions in the areas of highest priority for his communication. The coach translated the leader’s complex messages into simple ideas to influence any audience. In the next 2 sessions that followed, Ajith learnt verbal and non-verbal presentation techniques to fully express himself and unleash his executive presence. Gradually, he conveyed confidence with his voice, gestures, language, diction, and facial expressions. The coaching encouraged Ajith to take small positive risks in presentation skills while taking the stage. Vikram helped Ajith with reviewing and editing documents and made him practise scores of times on how to articulate and communicate his organizational vision before engaging the media and effectively communicating his ideas and key points. Also. shadowing the leader in presentations, giving feedback post presentations, and constant fortnightly support 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. It was his daily intentional small consistent changes in his behavior that made three big impacts in his leadership performance- a strong leadership brand, collaborative partnerships, and increased organizational visibility. Yes, it just took 7 months to bring Ajith’s inner superstar to surface. Nowadays, Ajith projects a very refined image at business meetings and events. When he walks into a room, people notice. When he speaks at meetings, people listen. And most importantly he loves acing media interviews!