Research Paper By Rahul Bhatnagar
(Executive Coach, INDIA)
Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional
Introduction to Case Study
This case study is about a young IT Professional. Who is facing challenges at work place and wants to overcome challenges and move forward in his career. This case study is an example that how ICF competencies helped me in coaching someone and dealing with real life situations. The names are changed to protect individual privacy.
James is an experienced IT professional in his late thirties. He works as a Project Manager in a reputed company. James approached me through another client of mine. James came up with mixed feelings of nervousness and curiosity. He was inquisitive about coaching proposition and wished to know if coaching could help him in dealing with his mammoth looking challenges and further excelling in his career.
James approached me, in a state of desperation and despair. As per him he was in a perennial conflict at work with not only his supervisor but also with his colleagues and sometimes even with his reportees. He was losing interest in his work, lagging behind in meeting expectation from his superiors and was a victim of peer pressure.
On the other side he had extremely good communication skills, confidence in his voice and rich background of technology experience.
He was finding himself alienated and he had a feeling that despite of his efforts, his colleagues and seniors have lost trust in him.
This was a challenging case for me where the client was quite disappointed with his current state of affairs and had no clue how to come out from his gloomy situation.
On the other hand I noticed he had a good past and great skills to help him overcoming his hurdles and he had an intention to grow and move forward.
We agreed to give an attempt for coaching, whereby he will need to take the complete ownership and responsibility and I would support him from coaching standpoint. I explained him the difference between mentoring and coaching. We discussed that these sessions will not be mentoring sessions and we will not be getting into suggestion or advisory mode, rather we will discover and explore together.
To move ahead with our coaching agreement, I assured James that these discussions would be completely confidential and he can safely share the related details with me. He acknowledged it and accepted the idea with open arms, we signed the contract and agreed the financials and blocked the dates for our meetings. We agreed to meet once in every two weeks and James assured me that he will keep me posted on regular basis as we will go along.
ICF competencies observed:
- Establishing coaching agreement,
- Coaching presence,
- Creating a safe & trusting environment
We discussed the current issues and James summarized and prioritized the main issues which he wanted to address during our coaching sessions. He identified some key challenge areas, where he was struggling to cope with.
Primarily he wanted to move forward in his career with confidence, and with high visibility within the organization.
We discussed further to explore what makes him think that these are the biggest challenges and how the life will be without these challenges. This discussion lead to identify the key outcomes James was expecting through our coaching journey.
He desired the key outcomes as –
- To regain his self-confidence,
- Get recognition and visibility for his work
- Look for the ways to move forward in his career
I started my discussion keeping in mind the GROW model, and made an attempt to apply the approach with Goal, Reality, options, and Will.
James too reciprocated with his keen interest in taking the journey forward, he acknowledged that he will take ownership, he will remain committed and he will take actions as we move forward with our sessions.
I started my discussion with James with exploring his recent wins, what was going right and what he is proud of.
Some of questions we explored –
- What is the recent wins?
- What is going right currently?
- What is your latest accomplishment?
- What are the general high points in recent past?
- What are some of your favorite memories?
James started answering and he explained me that he was a top-rater among his peers three years back. He was able to fix a long pending issue and his client appreciated him subsequently his own management had rewarded him. As James started answering these questions and the discussion progressed, I could observe the shift from his initial state, shift from despair to a sense of accomplishment. He mentioned about all the good work he delivered in his previous projects and the recognition he got in past, including in his previous organization.
I acknowledged his past achievements and allowed him to be in that triumphant state. He also acknowledged that his present condition was not always there, and it is a recent development.
Then we took this discussion to the next level with the questions such as –
- How the future would look like
- What space James want to see himself in
- What are your dreams and aspirations
- How would be a perfect day in the office look like
- What would you do if you do not have any constraint and you know that you cannot fail?
James came up with an idea to continue working on his strengths, pick up his knowledge, experience and area of interest and getccertified in next 6 months in an area that would compliment his Project Management skills. He also mentioned about his goal for striving to move to the next level within his current organization or outside organization.
As the discussion progressed, we continued exploration and discovery. We discussed the wonderful past, his strong points & fortes, his wins, ambitions and future goals.
Subsequently our discussion moved to the next level where I started exploration on the future stage, with questions such as –
- What stops you in being the best of yourself?
- What stops you demonstrating your confidence?
- What are your worries?
- Are they real or anxiety about unknown future?
- What would you do to stop these worries?
- What support system you need to remain focused without these worries?
- How would you feel if you have none of these worries and anxieties?
This exploration kindled a new spark and James continued discovering the options for his skill enhancement and keeping himself visible with the management. He started seeing prospects and possibilities. He mentioned he is feeling confidence in himself and he has all the abilities to come out from his current situation.
In the next few sessions we continued working on his identified goals for himself and his performance enhancement. James demonstrated his commitment towards his actions and goals. As we progressed, James looked more peaceful, relaxed and in control. He started showing his progress towards his goals and he mentioned that he feel he is more grounded, settled and in control of his emotions, and this is resulting in improved relationship at workplace. I continued exploring with more questions to move ahead and make him think even deeper.
ICF competencies observed:
- Powerful Questions
- Active Listening
- Creating awareness
- Coaching presence,
- Planning and Goal Setting
- Managing Progress and accountability
We reached to our last session as per agreement. James shared his learnings and discoveries, he highlighted how the coaching sessions have benefited him in regaining his lost confidence at the work place and the benefits even beyond office as well. He stated that he is much more stress-free, and this has resulted in better relationship at home with and he enjoys relaxed family time in the evenings and over the weekends.
He looked satisfied with his progress so far specially about his skill development and his preparation for the certification exams. He came up with a plan and shared with me the SMART attributes of his plan. I could see his initiative towards a better future, his increased confidence level and action oriented approach.
We visited the plan together and James ensured his continuity, consistency and commitment toward his streak of excellence. He mentioned he has all the confidence for pursing his certifications and looking beyond his current career level.
Finally, It was a great learning and rewarding experience for me as a coach. Each session brought a new insight. I learnt how to explore emotions and how underlying emotions clouds the realities and the vision. I explored how we limit ourselves with a limited perspective. I consciously applied my learnings from ICA and I realized the power of these skills in real life when we choose to apply consciously.
I felt grateful as it was a good learning for me and I was extremely happy about the progress of my coachee.
Further Reading –
- What got you here won’t get you there – Marshall Goldsmith
- Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide by Jonathan Passmore
- Masterful Coaching by Robert Hargrove
- The Inner Game Of Tennis: The Classic Guide To The Mental Side Of Peak Performance W.
- Timothy Gallwey
- Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
- The Tao of Coaching ‐ Max Landsberg
PS : All the names and personal information is changed to protect the client’s privacy. Client has consented to get this case study published for study and research.