Communicating Like a Leader

Communicating Like a Leader


I was hired to coach Alex K., a senior associate at a wealth management firm. His manager, the firm’s Managing Partner, felt that Alex was at a transition point in his career, ready to take on more responsibility in a leadership role. The Managing Partner believed that a coaching engagement focused on how Alex was perceived by others within the firm could prove valuable in raising his awareness and increasing his level of connection.

The Story of Alex K.

A hard-working, no-nonsense, ambitious member of the team, Alex was always hyper-focused on getting things done efficiently and well. His powerful personality and high energy could be intimidating, and while he wanted more interactions with his colleagues, he was unsure how to cultivate them. He tended to do things himself and keep his head down, and admitted to lacking a level of trust when it came to delegating to others. He described himself as impatient and prone to becoming frustrated when things didn’t go according to plan.

The Challenge/Opportunity

When I shared the results of his stakeholder interviews, Alex was knocked off balance and surprised by some of the perceptions held by his colleagues. He admitted to feeling misunderstood, even frustrated by their comments. “I asked myself,” he said, “ ‘Am I really like that?’” But the information only seemed to cement his resolve to lean into the process and shift those perceptions. He later described the experience:

“It was great because it wasn’t easy. That’s how I knew it would be worth it. The process requires you to check your ego at the door. It takes humility and chutzpah. I didn’t have to change who I was, but I did have to change how I was perceived.”

Alex identified his challenge/opportunity: To communicate more effectively with his colleagues to build their confidence and trust in him as a leader.

The Coaching Process

In our first meeting, I outlined the step-by-step process we would follow and answered any questions Alex had about what to expect. From the start, I sensed that he was committed to the engagement and held a deep desire to grow and learn while honing his leadership skills. Together, we crafted an action plan with a list of behaviors that he would adopt to help him achieve his goal. He implemented those actions into his daily work life, checking in with stakeholders monthly to track his progress and increase connections with his colleagues. Alex and I met monthly to review the feedback he was receiving and to adjust the action plan accordingly. The process was time efficient and focused, and he was able to establish a rhythm with his action items early on.

The Results

Alex’s consistency and hard work paid off. He was successful in dramatically changing the perceptions held by his colleagues, as measured by an anonymous survey. He became a much more effective and collaborative communicator with every member of his firm as well as with the Partners.

At the end of our engagement, Alex was promoted to the position of Managing Director. 

He described the engagement as “transformational,” adding that our work together allowed him to, “increase self-awareness while effecting powerful and positive change in the way I interact with my colleagues. I am not only able to communicate more effectively but can also navigate challenging situations in a more measured and collaborative way. I highly recommend Nancy to any leader who wants to up their game.”

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