© 2020 Cognitas LLC

Case Studies 

CLIENT

Founder and CEO,
Technology Company

SITUATION 

This leader had lost credibility with his team and his company’s results were suffering. He had built his success thus far on IQ only, and recognized that he needed to invest in developing his EQ to build stronger relationships, regain the trust of his team, and get his company back on track.

STRATEGY + RESULTS

 

Based on stakeholder feedback and his personal aspirations, this CEO identified integrity as his leadership touchstone and sought to improve his overall communication. Working together we determined daily practices to help him operationalize the concept of integrity, as well as a personal scorecard he used to track his success in keeping his commitments to himself and his team. His action plan also included clarifying and communicating the company vision and his expectations and increasing the developmental nature of his 1:1’s with his staff.

 

With newfound awareness that his provocative communication style – one that he enjoyed and thought enhanced learning – stressed and diminished his staff, he focused on learning and practicing a more positive and empathic style. Recognizing the impact of his mood on his communication style, this leader renewed his commitment to practices that sustained him: meditation, journaling, and exercise. By the conclusion of our engagement, this leader was receiving positive feedback from the team and seeing the benefits of his efforts in both the quality of his relationships as well as his staff’s level of engagement and performance.

CLIENT 

Senior Director,
Fortune 500 Retailer

SITUATION 

This client aspired to be a great leader and wanted to scale his effectiveness to the next level.  With a new team to lead, he wanted to capitalize on the opportunity to do some things differently to enhance both his and his team’s success and to build an engaged, empowered and energized team culture. ​

STRATEGY + RESULTS

 

Through a combination of 360 feedback and reflection, we identified that less optimal delegation and time management were two key obstacles getting in the way of this leader rising to the next level of leadership.  Due to a lack of time and patience, this client often did work himself that he should have delegated to his team, with the result being less time for him to do the more strategic work of a next level leader.  With greater awareness of both the impacts and drivers of these issues, we developed specific new practices to improve both of these areas.  One key practice included carving out inviolate time during the week for him to focus on his strategic priorities and to think more proactively about delegating.  Through his more proactive approach to delegating and focusing on developing his team members, this client built a stronger connection with his team members and a more empowered and energized team.   Additionally, with greater awareness of both his strengths and weakness as a leader, this client was able to think more strategically about how to staff his team to create a balance of skills across the group.

 

With new practices that helped him reduce the overwhelm and operationalize next level leadership, this client was better able to capitalize on various leadership opportunities.  Rather than avoiding the additional work, he began to see potential in these opportunities to elevate his visibility, influence and leadership within his company.  This new mindset in combination with his enhanced leadership competencies resulted in him being quickly tapped for two new high visibility leadership opportunities in his organization.

CLIENT

Vice President,
High Growth Technology Company

SITUATION 

 

Despite her notable career success, this client struggled with her confidence and occasionally suffered from imposter syndrome.  Her lack of confidence was causing her stress, impacting her performance, and ability to stand her ground in crucial conversations.  She wanted to gain confidence as a leader, reduce her stress level, and learn how to communicate more assertively. ​

 

STRATEGY + RESULTS

To help this client gain sustainable confidence as a leader, we worked together to uncover and label the habitual beliefs that limited her confidence, as well as to identify and develop new behaviors to practice and demonstrate greater confidence.  Using two different strength assessments, we identified her top performance and character strengths and ways for her to further incorporate these strengths into her role.  Crystalizing an inspiring vision of her desired leadership style and presence, we built an action plan including somatic and behavioral practices that enabled her to operationalize her leadership vision.  Through this work and her dedication to take one small but courageous action between our sessions, this client measurably increased both her effectiveness and confidence as a leader.

After 10 years of focus and personal sacrifice to build a successful career, this client also recognized that part of reducing her stress was greater self-care.  Thus, as part of her development plan, she chose to incorporate exercise, mindfulness practices, and reinvestment in her life outside of work.  Over time, her stress levels reduced to a more manageable level enhancing her ability to perform, stand her ground in difficult conversations and negotiations, and feelings of overall well-being.

CLIENT 

Director,
Higher Education

SITUATION 

This client was struggling with some “big personalities” on her team and giving difficult performance feedback.  She was conflict averse and wanted to enhance her abilities to manage complicated team dynamics and handle performance conversations.  The situation had escalated to the point where she was experiencing significant physiological effects from stress and burnout. 

STRATEGY + RESULTS

 

A key focus of this engagement was building the mindsets and skill sets of delivering difficult feedback and managing conflict.  The client connected her conflict aversion to her complicated childhood so to address the root of the problem, I first helped this client identify the self-limiting beliefs and dated narrative she had been living it.  Over time she developed a new story and mindset about her identity and professional role that enabled personal growth, greater well-being, and also allowed for the idea of constructive conflict.  In addition to this deeper work, we also worked on a more tactical level to develop specific skillsets she could use in stressful conversations and situations.  These skill sets included delivering effective feedback, handling defensive reactions, depersonalizing criticism, and practices for staying centered in the moment.  With a new mindset and some specific tools in her back pocket, the client was able to more calmly and effectively manage her team and handle the performance conversations.

 

The second focus of this engagement was stress management.  To build her resilience and raise her overall threshold for stress, this client knew she needed to make some adjustments to her lifestyle.  This client took significant steps to increase the amount of sleep and exercise she got each week, as well as to unplug more on the weekends.  The totality of these changes – a new mindset, new skills, and better self-care – helped this client set an upward spiral in motion that enhanced both her performance and overall well-being.

CLIENT

CEO,
National Non-Profit

 

SITUATION 

This client wanted to take his leadership abilities and impact in the world to the next level.  He engaged me as his coach to help him grow and refine his leadership as well as gain clarity on the next steps in his career.      ​

STRATEGY + RESULTS

 

At the start of this 12-month engagement, we utilized robust 360 feedback to determine the most critical areas for leadership development, uncovering two major areas of focus.  While this leader was visionary, innovative, inspiring, and effective at soliciting funding, his staff sometimes felt disconnected and wary of him due to his lack of patience and communication style.  To address these needs, we developed an action plan that helped him increase his awareness of his internal state and ability to center himself, enhance his presence, and develop stronger listening and empathic communication skills.  These additional skills enabled to connect more deeply with his staff and effectively lead his organization through a significant strategic change.

 

In addition, this client felt ready for his next leadership challenge and so we also worked together to clarify his next career move.  Together we explored and clarified his “zone of genius”, identifying the magic intersection of his most important values, passions, and strengths.  With this clarity and full commitment to take his impact in the world to an even greater level, he commenced a search and was ultimately selected to lead a larger national non-profit.  Leaving his former organization in good stead as well as accelerating his transition as the CEO of the new organization became his top priorities, and we partnered together ensuring both transitions were highly successful.

CLIENT

Senior Manager,
F500 Semiconductor Company

SITUATION 

This client was struggling to adjust to a new role that required a high level of teaming, peer influence, and cross-cultural sensitivity. An accomplished PhD and individual contributor, this client needed to learn how to successfully collaborate and get things done both with and through others. With a reputation built over years for being individualistic and condescending, this client needed to not only learn new skills but also build a new brand within the organization.

STRATEGY + RESULTS

 

Due to the nature of the situation, we conducted stakeholder interviews at the start of this engagement to collect detailed information on how she was currently showing up in her interactions and how she could be more effective. Using this data as well as determining the key obstacles that could thwart her change effort, we built an action plan to address the situation. The plan included practices to increase both her self-awareness as well as her social awareness, i.e. understanding other people’s perspectives and needs. The plan also included behavioral practices to improve her interactions at all levels; this included changes in both her non-verbal behavior as well as verbal communication to demonstrate greater interest, patience with, and empathy for others.  Experimenting and refining these new behaviors led this client to a full shift in her mindset about the value of working and teaming with others. 

 

Through her new awareness, behavioral changes, and an ongoing self-directed feedback-forward practice, this client grew her circle of peer allies and was able to dramatically shift the way she was perceived throughout the organization.  Her relationship with her manager also improved significantly, and within a year of starting coaching, she moved from performance improvement status to the promotion list.