A talented young director in a large, global packaged goods company had been selected to participate in the company’s high-potential leadership development program. The first step in the program was an initial assessment with a consultant from Gail Golden Consulting. In the interview, it was clear that the director exhibited many leadership strengths, including high intelligence, strong analytic abilities, and a drive for execution. However, her interpersonal impact led others to underestimate her leadership abilities. Her dress was very casual, her posture and eye contact did not convey confidence, and her voice was quiet and lacked enthusiasm.
The consultant met with the director and her manager to discuss the feedback from the assessment. They agreed that the director would meet with the consultant for four sessions of individual coaching, focused on helping the director to develop her executive presence. In addition, the consultant referred her to an image consultant to help her improve her visual presentation.
Several months after the termination of the coaching, the consultant was sitting in the company cafeteria when a poised, elegant woman walked into the room. With a start, the consultant realized it was the director, whom she barely recognized. The director’s confidence and authority were apparent in the way she carried herself and interacted with others.
Within a year, she was promoted to Vice-President of the company, and has continued to have a successful executive career.