Thinking about your childhood, young adulthood and the present, recall one instance for each stage where you reacted negatively to improvement feedback. Reflect on how you felt (i.e., What emotions surfaced? What story were you telling yourself?). Journal about your reflection.
Brad, who is in his late 30s, works for a large corporation as an Engineering Manager. He is considered a high potential individual. However, his reaction to constructive feedback/criticism is viewed as a limiting factor. Lately, Brad’s relationship with one of his key peers has deteriorated significantly as a result. His peer has an abrasive and direct style, which increases Brad’s defensiveness and pushback. Brad and his boss agreed on exploring leadership coaching in order to help Brad and improve the overall situation.
After signing the coaching contract, Brad and I engaged in an introductory conversation. In this conversation, we covered a wide variety of topics, such as a clear understanding of Brad’s beliefs, values, life and leadership styles. In a sense, we explored two aspects: who is Brad and what is important to him? This is the first step to creating a trustworthy relationship. This is the CONNECT step in TLI’s coaching process.
Once we were satisfied with the outcome of the CONNECT step, we moved on to explore the issue at hand, or as we call it, the coaching topic: improving Brad’s defensiveness when confronted with critical feedback.
We discussed what makes this topic important to Brad. He realized that this was becoming the limiting factor for his professional progress within the corporation. Brad also believed that the defensive behavior might be present in his personal life as well, though not as prevalent. We agreed to use a couple of assessment instruments to obtain additional information on the coaching topic: The Leadership Circle 360 Profile and The Color Code Personality Science Assessment. He and I reviewed the wholeness and meaning of available information. In the process, we collected significant positive feedback from coworkers and validated the coaching topic. This is the DISCOVER step in TLI’s coaching process.
We then paused to make sure Brad felt like we were absolutely on the right track. Together, we identified his present and future narrative. We also started exploring internal conditions possibly contributing to his external reaction. He felt validated and convinced of the significance of the selected topic. This is the CLARIFY step in TLI’s coaching process. We were now ready to develop a plan.
Brad and I developed a mutually agreeable action plan—this is the ACT step. Below are some examples of topics included in the plan:
Now came the core of the coaching process: SHIFT. These are a series of bi-weekly conversations to explore, review and make meaning of what is happening. These conversations sometimes generate new insights and practices. In Brad’s case, he was able to identify the root cause of his defensive behavior. It went all the way back to a seemingly insignificant incident with his father. This was incredibly liberating for him. He decided to share his discovery with his boss and later some of his peers. He solicited their support, which they gladly provided.
Then it was time to demonstrate Brad’s internalization and institutionalization of the changes. During the ACHIEVE step, we validated these changes by repeating some of the assessment instruments utilized in the DISCOVER step. Recently, as a result of his significant improvement, Brad was promoted to a Global Director position.