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  • Writer's pictureJess Annison

Case-study: A new job, and an eye on the Board

Liz* was about six weeks into a new job when she first came to me for coaching. She wanted some support to make a successful transition into her new role and organisation. It was a new sector, and a more senior position - and she was excited about it.

Starting a new job is always a great time for coaching, as it can really help the coachee to make a strong start, and in a way that they can then sustain and build upon. But there was an unusual twist. Since starting the role, Liz had learnt that her new boss was planning to retire in a year or two, and - all being well - she was being lined up to take on her boss's Board-level role at that point.

Liz had been thrilled to get this new job: it was an organisation she believed in and was really keen to join, and she was pleased they'd recognised her capabilities. She also felt like she was making a good start – but the news about being earmarked as the likely contender for a Board-level position in a relatively short time-frame… well – it was all a bit bonkers, in her words.

Together we worked to expand and boost Liz’s growth mindset, so that she could take the opportunities being presented to her in the role, really maximise and learn from them, and use them to grow and push herself forward. Rather than shying away or playing small, fearful of whether she’d be ready for a future Board-level role in the timescales envisaged by the organisation.

To be honest, Liz already had a pretty good growth mindset, and this is true for most of my clients – they know they are able to do, achieve and be more, they just need a little help to get started. So we focussed our time together to develop cognitive and mindset techniques that Liz could use to help her access her growth mindset in moments of challenge or pressure, when she might otherwise revert to a more fixed mindset position. For example – holding her nerve when she was arguing for something she felt strongly about in senior meetings, actively looking for opportunities to experiment or take a risk (and accepting she might fail, but that would be OK too), and pushing herself out of her comfort zone in a number of ways.

We worked together over four months, and during that time Liz demonstrated to herself (as well as to others) the potential that the organisation had seen when hiring her. She took on more responsibility beyond her core remit (and was making a great success of that too) and began relishing the prospect of seeing just what she could do in different circumstances.

Liz reflected: “I knew where I needed to improve and how I wanted to develop as a leader, but I couldn't see through my own pre-conceptions of who I am. With Jess's help I am now thriving and have a great toolkit to use when situations I'm not 100% comfortable with arise.”

* Not her real name.

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