Case study: Communication Makeover for an Executive
Michael Stratford
Michael Stratford

Automotive Industry, one of the Big 3


An executive came to me because she was told to hire a communication coach. She had been given a very poor rating in her recent performance review/ 360° assessment.

Her challenge was that she was head and shoulders above the rest of her department when it came to specificity of language in documents that could have billions of dollars of negative impact on the company if "languaged" poorly.

However, when she engaged with the members of her team, she was abrupt and as she said “didn’t suffer fools lightly”. Her style was direct to the point of bluntness and needed to change because she was losing her ability to effectively influence her peers and co-workers.

Client's initial statement of desire: "My goals of working with a coach were to improve my communication effectiveness and help me with goal setting through my next career transition."


We engaged in a coaching dialogue meeting regularly for three months. During the course of the interaction we discovered that while she had invested enormous amount of money, time and energy in her degrees and learning for the position she held, but the bottom line was that the career path was a misfit for what she was truly passionate about. We uncovered her strengths, gifts, and desire to have a powerfully beneficial impact on people and then sought to clarify how those talents could be expressed and leveraged.

Essentially, in ‘soft’ language, we connected her with her passion and uniqueness which meant more congruent behavior. The fact of being in a misfit position created internal friction which leaked out in verbal behavior that was not in her best interest.


In the client's words:

"What is amazing to me are the results in only 3 months of work. The wins are for my self-esteem, my employer, and my career. Here's some of the list:

My sense of my personal value is much higher (people are seeking me out to give them counsel about issues that used to be personal challenges to me); My next job non-negotiables are defined (i.e., what I require for alignment between my values and the next part of my career)

I'm being sought out for projects and possible new jobs (including being courted by outside companies). I got a big, fat salary increase and am likely to be promoted soon.

Improved relationships with my clients (one vice-president known for being openly critical actually paid me a compliment)

Relationships with my colleagues are markedly improved.

All this after only 3 months! I was approached about yet another job opportunity today. My personal sense of harmony with the universe is at an all-time high as a direct result of Michael's coaching.

At the present, I am in love with the joys and surprises that each day presents. But for Michael's coaching, I would likely still be cloaked by bitterness of what is past and yearning to be where it is not yet time for me to be."