Executive Coaching Case Study
A pediatrician and public health professional by training, B has dedicated his career to diagnosing and treating childhood illnesses and improving healthcare delivery for children around the world. After many years leading studies and working with non-governmental agencies across Sub-Saharan Africa, he joined a prominent Seattle-area non-profit to work on child health research.
After several years with the group, B was tapped to lead a 20-person team collaborating with regional networks, overseeing grant distribution, advocating for new policies at the state level, and measuring data to track program effectiveness.
B had established working relationships with everyone on the team, but he wanted to step into this new leadership role with clarity and intention. Having previously participated (indirectly) in a peer’s executive coaching, he thought the process would help him start off on the right foot. The HR team connected B with Jennifer, who had worked with a number of other executives at the foundation.
“I sought out coaching as part of the preparation for my new role. I wanted to gain a better understanding of my own expectations and assumptions going in; I thought it would be a helpful part of the transition.”
Jennifer and B kicked off their work together in person, shifting to videoconferencing and “walk-and-talk” video calls after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They carved out about 1.5 hours every two weeks to keep momentum strong as B ramped up with new responsibilities.
“It has been really helpful to have a sounding board; someone to sketch out possible challenges and situations. The process has helped me understand and articulate my goals as a leader, figure out what direction I want to take my team in, better organize my time, and make the transition as smooth as possible.”
Jennifer suggested an Integrative Enneagram assessment, which revealed that B was a Type 2. These Considerate Helpers particularly value relationships and generosity, themes that mesh powerfully with B’s dedication to improving healthcare for children worldwide.
“I had done other personality assessments, but I found the Enneagram by far the most helpful. It provides a framework for discussion. It’s more of a living document that we reference again and again. I’ve learned what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how they can impact or hinder the way I lead.”
B felt that Jennifer made the tool more powerful by incorporating plenty of specific examples and sharing relevant articles and resources between sessions. B began reflecting on which elements of his personality were showing up as he set goals for the team, tuning into areas where he might have a tendency to overfunction to ensure they weren’t adversely affecting the outcome.
B feels the most significant impact of the coaching has been around bringing his leadership team together. His work with Jennifer has helped him clarify his intentions, figure out how the team should be structured, prepare for important discussions, and facilitate more impactful collaboration. He has been able to think through how his increased visibility with senior executives influences how he communicates and leads.
“The coaching process has helped me solidify how I want to lead. It’s been valuable for focusing on the issues I’m working on now and anticipating issues that might arise down the road. Without it I might be leading more reactively, dealing with things as they come up. But the coaching helps me to be proactive.”
As B prepared to set a vision with his new team, the coaching helped him clarify the direction and how he would communicate it. He built on what he had learned to ensure he was speaking and leading as his best self.
Ultimately, B feels that working with Jennifer has made him a better leader by helping him carve out space to think ahead and prepare for the known and the unknown. Coaching has accelerated his growth at a critical career juncture—and his team’s growth and impact, as a result.