Leading with Authenticity: Executive Coaching Case Study
S is an internationally recognized global health expert and executive leader at a large nonprofit working to reduce inequity and improve quality of life around the world.
S holds a critical leadership role in the organization, which includes managing a large team, frequent travel, and influence inside and outside the organization. When S was promoted to a new level of executive responsibility, the organization reached out to Jennifer to support and help S build her communication capabilities and support her work with her supervisor to be as effective as possible.
Jennifer held coaching sessions with S in person when possible, and over the phone when S was traveling.
While S has worked with a number of leadership and life coaches in the past, she found that many of them adhered to a set approach that did not take the unique personalities of their specific clients into account. In contrast, Jennifer worked with S to understand her own strengths and weaknesses—and how those traits were perceived by others.
“Other coaches I’ve experienced want everyone to have a particular leadership style—a very authoritarian leadership style—without recognizing that different people lead differently. Jennifer’s coaching approach is more flexible. She feels that finding and maintaining one’s authentic self is the best approach.”
Jennifer used the Integrative Enneagram assessment to help S understand what core, subconscious motivations could be driving her behavior. The assessment identified S as an Integrative Enneagram type 2—Considerate Helper. At their best, Helpers excel at making connections and supporting others. At their worst, or when they are under stress, they can come off as interfering or over-controlling.
It was enlightening for S to understand that a specific personality trait can be both a strength and a weakness. The Integrative Enneagram and coaching work have helped her see how certain inclinations can be misconstrued, misunderstood, and unappreciated by others.
“The Integrative Enneagram is different from other assessment tools. It’s better at showing you how you behave and show up when you’re at your best, versus what it looks like when you’re at your worst. I’m starting to recognize when I’m overdoing it.”
The coaching process has helped S embrace the fact that she has specific personality traits and use that understanding to become a better leader. She now recognizes that she can come off as grouchy or gruff to people who don’t know her well, and that when people think she is on the offensive, they react by going on the defensive. In addition to these valuable insights, she has learned practical tools to adjust her communication style as needed so she can be as effective as possible in her executive role, while staying true to herself.
“I need to find my authentic style, and use it to my advantage. I’m more grounded and centered when I’m being true to myself.”
All in all, S believes the coaching has made her a stronger communicator and a better person.