Leila* is an early-30s client services director in a financial services company. She has a strong reputation for excellent judgment, high integrity and a formidable work ethic. She leads a high performing team which she has transformed into a widely recognised centre of excellence. When we started working together, Leila had just been promoted to this role, she was taking over from an older person who had held the role for a number of years, had a poor reputation and was going to be retained in an advisory role for a period of time.

>>>  Leila experienced a sense of “imposter syndrome” on starting the new role particularly in the company of her predecessor who she could see was observing her. This, coupled with her high empathy, meant that she also felt that she should behave sensitively around him, anticipating that he could be feeling unhappy at being sidelined. When we began the coaching programme we began to focus on understanding what was happening and the dynamics between the two of them. She was able to see how her interpretation of the situation was causing her to apply the brakes on her ownership of the role and was causing her to be overly conscious of her actions and intentions which was becoming quite paralyzing. We moved onto building an awareness of her real skills, attributes and achievements which enabled her to build her confidence and to begin challenging her “inner critic” – while also guarding against complacency and being open to critical feedback. Over the six months of our programme, Leila was able to develop a firm inner sense (or identity) as a leader rather than feeling she was simply acting like one.

* Leila is not her real name