Research Paper By Jitendra Kumar Joshi
(Life Coaching, India)
This case study is about one of my coaching interactions with an IT professional, working in a multinational organization with about sixteen years of experience. Throughout his career he has been a techie and was working as principal architect when our coaching journey started. He was introduced to me through one of his friends, who has been my coaching client earlier. For the reasons of confidentially I have picked up a fictitious name and calling the client as Vikas.
ICF Competencies and Tools applied in the Coaching Process
Vikas has always been a high performer and commanded good respect in his team. He has been into the current role for almost three years now, however for the past couple of months he was not completely satisfied with his work. His productivity was going down and he was not sure what the issue was.
We started our first session sharing our backgrounds and some important defining moments in life. This helped to build an initial connection between us and set the stage for us to move ahead smoothly. I explained him the methodology and approach, and clarified the expectations between us as a coach and client. To remove any ambiguity I also clarified the distinctions between coaching and other seemingly allied fields like mentoring, counselling etc. Since we were in the same city, we decided to have face-to-face sessions and agreed to meet once in two weeks for next three months.
Although the norm of confidentially was reiterated in each session, it was explained in detail in the initial rapport building session, assuring the client that whatever was discussed or revealed by the client would remain confidential which helped to build trust and made him more confident about the process.
ICF competencies observed:
- Establishing coaching agreement
- Coaching presence
- Creating a safe & trusting environment
As we continued our conversation Vikas started pouring out his concerns about the growth opportunities presented by his current role in the organization. He has been enjoying his job and has been quite successful in the current role until sometime back however somehow he was feeling stuck and was unsure about his future. He saw limited opportunities for growth in the current role however had an option to move into a Service Delivery Manager role; however he was unsure if he would be able to do that role. He wanted to have clarity on what was the best thing for him to do so that he could make the right choice, and if he decided to accept the new role how he could be successful in the new role.
When I asked him what was his priority Vikas mentioned that coming out of the dilemma to make a right decision was his top priority. I acknowledged him for that fact that he was concerned about his future and wanted to do something about it. I continued my discussion consciously keeping in mind the GROW Model. I asked him to help me understand how he was doing in the current role, what was working for him, what has been some of his recent achievements, and what has been some of the high points in his current role.
When he started answering these questions, I could see a sparkle in his eyes. He explained that he has been one of the best performers in his department, and had many high points in his career. He explained that he loved working with people and his team has been very productive in his leadership. He appeared much more confident and energetic as he spoke about his achievements.
I acknowledged him for his achievements and allowed him to be in that state. Further discussions revealed that a new person had joined his department as overall lead just six months back, and it is only after that he started feeling uncertain about his career growth. We continued our exploration with questions like his relationship with his supervisor and his team and if there has been and other changes in his work. When asked what was his main worry in the current situation, Vikas paused for some time and said in a low tone that he cannot move to the next level in-spite of all the hard work that he was doing as there was no position available and he felt no motivation to work hard.
Noticing the low energy in his voice, I shifted the conversation to enquire about what he thought was his strength. With a complete change in his voice Vikas stated people management and technical expertise in his domain were his core strengths. He went on to saying that he was regarded as one of the best people managers in his department and was cognized multiple times by the senior management for his people management skills. I could see a very confident and proud Vikas talking to me. I Immediately acknowledged him for that.
When I asked what were his dreams and aspirations, Vikas took a deep breath. He paused for a moment and went into thinking mode for a while. Then he said he wanted to see himself leading the Services group for his organization. Suddenly he realized his worry for not having opportunity to reach to the next level in his department was not the real one. He stated even if he would have got to the next level in his team, he would not have been satisfied as his goal was something different. He admitted that now he was clear in his mind about where he wanted to reach and what career path he had to pursue. This brought me an aha moment as he was able to bring him out of the low motivation levels and looked more confident.
As we started our next session after a gap of two weeks, it looked as though Vikas was quite excited for this session. He poured his happiness in the way he was feeling more confident and the joy of getting back to his normal self in his work. As we continued our discussion, he mentioned that his senior management has given him an option of moving into the role of service delivery manager and this could pave him a way to reach to his desired destination. However he stated it would be a new role for him and he was not confident if he would be able to deliver. We explored if he had clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the service delivery manager and also what made him think that he may not be able to deliver.
We continued exploring together on
- The key attributes that he brought to the new role
- His key strengths which could support the new role
- How could his previous experience help him to build the new role
- How would a perfect day would look like in the new role
Then I asked Vikas if he could share any wins from his past experience where he successfully overcame some challenging situations, and how did he feel about it. Suddenly I could feel energy and enthusiasm in his voice.
Reminding of his past wins made him much more confident and energetic. He stated he was seeing the prospects now and was looking forward to take up the challenge.
ICF competencies observed:
- Exploring Underlying Emotions
- Powerful Questions
- Active Listening
- Creating Awareness
- Exploring Awareness
- Coaching presence
Subsequent sessions focused on creating the clear action plan and follow-up on them. Vikas was now looking very optimistic and admitted that he was able to focus on his current job without any distractions. He was now in control and had a clear direction to move forward. He had already spoken to his senior management and expressed his willingness to take up the role of service delivery manager. He was assured a position would be offered to him within next one month. He appeared very excited and full of enthusiasm. I acknowledged him for his commitment towards his goal and the first step he had already taken. We continued working together to explore most important actions
for Vikas to complete in the next four weeks to prep him for the new role and agreed to setup another set of actions in the next session for the first four weeks in his new role. We discussed the plan in detail, and I challenged him in some of the actions he had included in the plan. We concluded this session with a clear action plan for Vikas to complete in the next couple of weeks.
The next session was delayed by a week as Vikas had to travel out of the city, and we agreed to meet a week later than scheduled earlier. This time I could see Vikas in a completely different gear. He had completed all the actions we had agreed, and in fact added some additional items in the plan. I could notice complete change in his attitude and I appreciated him for his commitment and energy. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had already created a plan for the first 4 weeks for his new role as well. I brainstormed with him on the plan and discussed if he foresees any roadblocks in completing any of the actions and how would he overcome them.
We followed up on plan in the subsequent sessions, and refined the action plan as needed. By now his body language, energy levels and enthusiasm were completely changed. I appreciated him for his commitment and drive. By the time we had our last session he was already inducted into the new role. It was a very satisfying moment for me when I heard Vikas talking about how much he was enjoying the new role and the visibility it was creating for him within the organization. We discussed about how he can sustain the momentum and explored some long term actions to keep him focused on his long term goal. He expressed his gratitude for the much needed support during the entire journey, wherein he could identify the real issue, was able to make a decision on his career path and remove the apprehensions he had with the new role.
As a coach, it has been a very rewarding and a great learning experience for me. Each session gave an opportunity to observe one or the other ICF competency. It provided an opportunity to understand how the underlying assumptions and beliefs cloud the real issue, and how important it is to explore them to uncover the real issues. It feels so satisfying when an unknown person looks up to you to bring a positive change in their life and by putting the client’s needs ahead of your own and by using the various ICF competencies and the GROW Model I was able to co-create a new meaning for the client.
ICF competencies observed:
- Planning goals
- Designing Actions
- Managing Progress and Accountability
- Acknowledging Client
Further Reading related to Coaching
- Emotional Intelligence –Daniel Goleman
- Working with Emotional Intelligence–Daniel Goleman
- What got you here won’t get you there – Marshall Goldsmith
- Coaching for Performance (GROWing Human Potential and Purpose) – John Whitmore