Three weeks ago, I sat with a coaching client who was “lost.” Normally, J.J., a vice president for a high-tech company, is the consummate high-potential leader: a glass-half full kind of guy, a cheerleader for his team, extremely loyal to his boss and his boss’s boss, tireless in his work ethic, and a constant problem-solver. On this particular day, however, the inordinate amount of organizational turmoil he was facing had finally gotten him down. He and his colleagues were running out of good things to say about their company, which had been through a series of devastating internal and external changes, including a reduction in force, bad public relations, and constant re-organizations. J.J. was disappointed in the company’s leadership and in himself for feeling so bad; still, he thought he should “hang in there.”
In the four coaching sessions prior to this one, we had done a lot of problem solving about his team. In those sessions, I noticed he was focused much more on others than himself, and I sensed that he was not ready to talk about his feelings or his spirit. So we talked about practical matters: how to spin bad news to good news with his team, what information he could share with them that wouldn’t get him in trouble, and how he could spend more time with his wife and kids.
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