Julia works for a well-known FTSE 100 technology company. By the time I met her, she had already reached a senior position in the company.
The interesting thing about this story is that it switched partway through. But let’s start at the beginning…
Initially, Julia came to me for help with her leadership style. She wanted guidance on developing authenticity, self-confidence and self-awareness, particularly when it came to reacting to change.
“I was very corporate, rather artificial and not always confident in my own abilities. Coming from Germany where there’s a more direct culture, and having grown up in very hierarchical organisations, this was limiting me somewhat in terms of my career progression.”
Bear in mind that this was right at the start of the first lockdown. We couldn’t meet in person, so everything had to take place virtually, including our introductory `chemistry’ session.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, talking to someone through a screen felt odd, but Yvette and I connected really quickly. We were on the same wavelength. She’s very natural and open, so it was easy to connect and build the trust that I needed.”
Quite early on in the coaching process, we decided to shake things up a bit. Rather than sitting at our desks, Julia and I took our sessions out into the open air, walking and talking on the phone.
“Walking outside felt a lot more powerful than seeing each other on the screen. It took me away from the little box where I worked and helped me to open up. It created headspace.”
Then I received a phone call. Julia had just been offered the opportunity of a lifetime – an interview for Chief of Staff to the CEO.
“I’d always wanted this job, but could I do it? We’d only just started working on my leadership style, so I wasn’t super-confident.
Yvette and I discussed this, and she helped me through the interview preparation. But actually, it wasn’t just interview prep…”
It went back to the initial goal of our coaching sessions – authenticity and confidence.
I asked Julia to describe the proudest moments of her life story. Like many people, she was modest about those achievements, playing down her own input. I encouraged her to do the opposite, to recognise her own worth and the value that she brings to the table.
We then honed down her story into `soundbites’. Now, Julia could look at her job interview in a new way. Rather than an artificial formal test, it would be a conversation between equals.
“She helped me understand who I really am. If I just brought myself to the interview, nothing could go wrong. Even if I didn’t get the job, I would have done the best I could.”
You won’t be surprised to hear that Julia nailed the interview. She was now the Chief of Staff to the CEO of a world-renowned company.
“In the interview I was 100% confident. I thought: `Great, I can do that’.
I got the job, and then it sunk in… but then I realised that I was only 5% nervous. Without the coaching, that would have been 120%!”
The onboarding process for the new job was one of Julia’s greatest challenges. After all, this was at the beginning of lockdown and Julia’s organisation was heavily impacted by the pandemic. Understandably, she had moments of self-doubt.
“Yvette was just there for me. There were times when I just wanted her to tell me what to do, but this isn’t how coaching works.
She listened, encouraged me to come to my own conclusions and then at the end she said `You’ve just got to put your big girl pants on!’
I was just laughing. Yvette diffused my fear with something comical.”
During this time, my coaching sessions became a safe place in which Julia could calibrate her views. As a result, she could manoeuvre with confidence through the complex landscape at the top of a world-famous organisation.
“Yvette went through the journey with me and never questioned it. She just sensed what I needed and adapted. First it was leadership development and suddenly it was interview prep and then it was onboarding.
We laughed a lot – and from my perspective, it felt like having a trusted confidante who also challenged me to move out of my comfort zone.
Today, I understand what I bring to the table – and that has helped me gain confidence. It has allowed me to be myself.”
Julia, Chief of Staff, FTSE 100 Technology Company
Is something holding you back in your career? If you would like help to remove the obstacles, understand your worth and gain the confidence to express your value to the people who matter, get in touch with me here.