Bill, senior sales executive at a prominent global investment firm.

The Scenario: Bill is very hardworking, extremely successful, and tough as nails. Unfortunately, over time he had developed a reputation of being so hard on others that some staff had become reluctant to work with him. Finally, despite his consistent and “masterful” numbers, the CEO, a longtime friend, brought him in for a chat. The VP of HR quickly followed up.

Bill was to get coaching for his obvious “people” issues, whether he wanted it or not. His response to both the CEO and the VP of HR was that the complainants obviously didn’t understand the high-pressure nature of this business. Bill was a “producer” and didn’t have time for all those “niceties.” His response to the request to change was unequivocal: “These people need to get used to me or move on. I am great at what I do, and my style will never change. I care about results.”

The Strategy: Instead of trying to overcome Bill’s resistance, we first focused on creating a strong, positive self-motivation, otherwise he would revert the next time he was under high stress or pressure.  Bill created his own vision for his relationships, bringing into focus what he wanted those relationships to be like to create his own motivation to change.

Based on feedback, Bill learned that his interactions with others caused them to feel diminished rather than enhanced. Bill decided to see whether collaboration based on loyalty and dedication—rather than compliance out of fear—would lead to better results for all concerned. Bill made his own decision to prove to others that he valued human dignity and that he acted based on ethical principles, not just for his own rewards.

The Results: After four months of coaching and practical application, Bill was able to focus on each conversation or email interaction he had with his colleagues and make sure they reflected his new approach. Over time, through a cycle of action and evaluation, we helped Bill create the leadership brand he wanted. This resulted in Bill attracting more of the best deals and the best employees, building a positive legacy for his last years with the firm.