Scenario I

Scenarios I .. II .. III

Note: all scenarios are disguised versions of true coaching cases.

Scenario I: The case of the mistaken arrogance and closeted disability.

A Chief Executive at New York Financial Services firm refers a Managing Director for Executive Coaching after a 360 Degree Performance Survey and other data turn up information that this MD's team and other peers find him "arrogant" and tough to get close to. The firm's HR SVP observes that this MD "never seems to have a hair out of place" and seems like a perfectionist.


During coaching, the coach discovers that not only is the client extremely introverted but he also suffers from a moderate hearing loss he has had since childhood. He has learned to read lips but is unable to hear well during large team meetings. Coach reframes the clients "problem" with others from one of "arrogance" to "lack of approachability" due to both his introversion and hearing loss (which he keeps secret). Coach challenges the client to "get out of the closet" about his hearing loss, leaving the decision to the client about whether to go for a hearing aid or not.

Client takes ownership of both his lack of approachability through his introversion and his hearing loss by talking to others about his hearing deficit, giving up his "secret" and also allowing himself to become approachable and seen as imperfect and flawed. He goes to a doctor, has his hearing tested and gets fitted for a hearing aid. The client's past history of being shamed as a child in using a hearing aid are briefly explored in coaching as elements which have blocked him from doing anything about his hearing loss to date.

Coach sets up a feedback model for the client to collect quarterly feedback about himself. The client agrees asking team members and key stakeholders to give him quarterly reports about if he is more approachable, less approachable or the same as before.

The CEO congratulates the coach for "curing" his Direct Report. SVP earns praise for partnering and using a Blackbird Leadership Coach who gets the client to change his behavior.

Time of engagement: six months.