Dr. Maharsia came to me in the middle of a career transition. He’d just left his previous role as head of R&D for a large manufacturing firm and was looking for something different. He’d completed several interviews at large and small companies.
His initial efforts proved successful, and he was looking for help preparing for the next interviewing step: presenting his strategy overview to the C-suite.
We did three things:
1️⃣Prior to our first meeting, I asked him to reflect on my favorite coaching question: Tell me about a time when you were at your peak performance, when things were going really well. What was going on? Who was involved? What feelings did you have? Don’t be humble!
I learned this question from the College of Executive Coaching. The wonderful thing about it is that it draws out important information about one’s strengths and values. Dr. Maharsia’s answer revolved around a big work project he accomplished. We talked through his answer in detail and set it aside.
2️⃣Secondly, we discussed the outline for his presentations and role-played the delivery and the Q&A. Through several meetings we streamlined his presentation visuals to be more impactful and I gave him a framework for answering questions in a clear and concise way.
💡Hint: I use the strategy of having a standard opening line for answers to complex questions: “When I consider [Topic of question], I think of three aspects: people, processes, and metrics”. This allows me to buy time to structure my thoughts and preps the audience for an answer related to those three topics.
Dr. Maharsia continued to be successful in his interviewing and came away with two outstanding offers. One from a large company and one from a startup.
3️⃣Finally, we talked through his offers. He had prepared a detailed pros and cons list (salary, location, level of responsibility, etc.) and was still torn between the two offers.
He asked for my opinion.
My answer, “Remember when you told me about your peak experience in your career…the time when you were the most energized and confident? Which of these offers do you think would allow you to be back in that kind of situation?”
“The startup”, he immediately answered.
I encouraged him to consider that answer in his decision-making process along with the other factors on his list, and told him I was confident that he would be excellent in either role.
He’s now the Chief Technology Officer at the startup.
I hope this helps you better understand how coaching works.
Are you an advanced-degree scientist or engineer who would like help making the leap from technical expert to influential leader?
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