It’s often hard to tell people how performance coaching can affect their lives. In order to illustrate the process, I’ve assembled a few client narratives. To protect my clients, their names have been changed and in their place, we’re paying tribute to a few of my favorite actors. This reminds us that this process is not only powerful, but it’s fun.
Helping a consultant find executive presence.
“Leo” approached me to increase his projection of confidence. For all his best efforts, accumulated accomplishments and experience, Leo still appeared as a “junior” to the executives in the room. When he asked why he didn’t get one particular promotion, he was told that he lacked the tenacity to go head to head with other executives, or “executive presence.” Leo’s intuition told him that acquiring an acting-based skill set could help him in the pursuit of his goals.
First we brought consciousness to his body language. Simple awareness of what his body was communicating to others (and himself) allowed him to shift from sending self-defeating messages. We then developed a posture that allowed him to feel comfortable and also remain strong and powerful when he had an important meeting. Mentally, we unpacked his idea of what he thought executive presence should look like and began exploring what the experience of executive presence can be. Executive presence is now no longer an idea, it’s a practice for Leo. We began our sessions in person and now, meet weekly on Skype.
- Using breath to give time for organization of thoughts and weight to his ideas.
- A neutral power stance to feel comfortable and at the same time exude power and confidence.
- A pre-high stakes meeting warmup, allowing access to a powerful vocal register and facial expressivity.
- Morning meditation routine to bring mental clarity and non-reactivity.
Helping an Architect find her leadership qualities
“Meryl” has a good job at a small and respected Bay Area architecture firm. The problem was, she felt as if she was always being treated as secondary to her co-worker and not given the leadership opportunities that she felt that she deserved. Meryl felt that she “disappeared” in meetings, in front of clients, and even in casual conversations. She wanted to find out how she could make more of an impact. Meryl came to me with the aim of becoming more assertive in her work and in her personal life.
We quickly discovered that our work together needed to focus on the internal conversations Meryl was having with herself as well as their external expression.
By unpacking unconscious habits, we were able to diffuse their power over her and were able to implement new habits that would allow her to emerge as the leader she wanted to be. Meryl has found compassion for herself. At work she is given more responsibility and sees herself as competent and able to handle any new challenges that arise.We continue to meet every other week in person.
- A definition of leadership that guides her in making quick, emphatic decisions.
- A communication strategy to maneuver challenging personalities at work and to make space to come forward with her own ideas.
- Ways to deal with mental “stories” that are holding her back from accepting her potential.
- New practices for making requests and following through to make sure she is heard by co-workers and loved ones.
Helping a Lawyer find her authentic voice
“Judi” is employed at a highly respected law firm in San Francisco and on track to becoming partner. Until recently, Judi had always been very comfortable interacting with clients and colleagues. One day, Judi noticed a quaver in her voice when she talked about something that was potentially emotional for her. This then caused fear for her around speaking up. When she did talk, her awareness of this new tension, almost caused the symptom to occur more often. “Where does this come from,” she asked, “and how do I make it go away?”
Many professionals suffer from the feeling that their voice is betraying them.Though being present with our emotions is important, we also want to be in control of them. By bringing Judi’s breath lower into her belly and lower back, she was able to feel more supported and exude confidence. Judi’s natural stance was also very open and vulnerable. This served her well when connecting with clients, but not when speaking up at firm meetings. Once we brought awareness to a new way of comporting herself, she was able to feel solid in herself and recognized her boundaries. She now schedules appointments before trials to refresh her work.
- Facial cues, stance and alignment that keeps her in her power and encourages healthy boundaries.
- A visualization of supported breath to know what the body needs to do to support the voice.
- Guided work in breath and relaxation that allows her to relax her throat and drop the pitch of her voice.
- An outline of gestures that allow for full expression and exude authority.