Life Coaching – Leadership Case Study
Case Study #2
Janet is a young woman who is currently employed at a company who sells paper supplies. Although she makes a decent living as the office manager there, she desires to be an entrepreneur in the industry. However, she fears losing the financial security that comes with transitioning from employee to entrepreneur. She has sought leadership coaching to help her make this transition.
Impetus for Change
According to Jayawarna, Rouse, & Kitching (2013), Janet would most likely be characterized as a reluctant entrepreneur due to her desire to obtain fulfillment through entrepreneurship. Reluctant entrepreneurs are linked with poor long-term success (Jayawarna et al., 2013). This indicates that pursuing entrepreneurship merely as a means to find fulfillment will likely lead to an unsuccessful business venture (Jayawarna et al., 2013).
Because Janet indicates that her desire for entrepreneurship is due to lack of fulfillment, it is prudent to help her identify the area in which she feels unfulfilled. One way to do this would be to utilize The Wheel of Life (Stoltzfus, 2005). Through examining the different areas of her life, Janet may find that her desire to start her own business is being driven by something other than merely dreams of entrepreneurship (Stoltzfus, 2005). The Wheel of Life can help her identify the true impetus for change and work and to ensure that she chooses the best course of action in order to find fulfillment (Stoltzfus, 2005).
Another option would be to help Janet identify points of pressure in her life (Stoltzfus, 2005). Contemplating the things in which she would like more or less of in her life can help Janet to better evaluate whether or not opening her own business would bring her fulfillment (Stoltzfus, 2005). It could also help her identify additional motivating factors for becoming an entrepreneur, as could The Wheel Life, which may aid in helping her be more successful should she choose to open her own business (Jayawarna et al., 2013).
Financial Security Fears
Janet indicates a high degree of fear surrounding the loss of financial security which would come with entrepreneurship when compared to her current employment. Loss of financial security could detrimentally affect Janet’s life satisfaction (Howell, Kurai, & Tam, 2013). Because of this and her desire to attain fulfillment through entrepreneurship, assisting Janet in evaluating and assuaging her fears related to financial security will be essential to minimize or prevent detriments to her life satisfaction that may arise from her pursuit of entrepreneurship (Howell et al., 2013).
One of the first steps would be to help Janet identify whether or not her concerns regarding loss of financial security are rooted in heedfulness or merely fear (Cloud, 2008). According to Cloud (2008), making decisions based upon fear alone depletes one of power. Basing her decision whether or not to open a business merely on fears surrounding financial security, and the resulting loss of empowerment, would likely contribute to Janet’s sense of dissatisfaction (Cloud, 2008). The leadership coach would need to help Janet explore this area through listening and questioning in order to discover the basis for her fears (Stoltzfus, 2005).
Oftentimes, people have difficulty recognizing that they have a choice when it comes to fear (Luciani, 2004). Fear is not a given, and one can choose to succumb to it or break free from it (Luciani, 2004). Assisting Janet in moving towards this realization in relation to her feelings surrounding financial security can help her to distinguish between fact (heedfulness) and fiction (mere fear) regarding her concerns (Luciani, 2004). Coaching Janet through an audit, as described by Cloud (2008), could help her identify ways in which her fiction-based fears may be contributing to her feelings of dissatisfaction. Once this is completed, Janet will have the opportunity to mitigate any areas of concern and work towards greater satisfaction (Cloud, 2008).
Goal Setting and Action Planning
Setting goals is an integral part of coaching (Stoltzfus, 2005). Exploring her reasons for seeking change and the fears associated with making them will better enabled Janet to set SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—goals in order to help the changes she would like to make come to fruition (Stotzfus, 2005). The coach must keep in mind, however, that the selection of goals must be driven by Janet, not the coach (Stoltzfus, 2005). When setting goals, it is important to target what Janet would like to happen rather than fixating on how it will happen (Stoltzfus, 2005). How it will happen will be addressed later in the action plan (Stoltzfus, 2005).
The coaching funnel can be used to help Janet identify the action steps necessary in order to reach her goals (Stoltzfus, 2005). The coaching funnel models how the conversation between coach and client should begin more narrowly as they discuss the client’s goals and broaden as they explore and evaluate options before narrowing again to identify specific action steps (Stoltzfus, 2005). As with selection of goals, Janet must determine the action steps herself (Stoltzfus, 2005).
It is not uncommon for clients to change their goals to focus on other areas as coaching progresses (Stoltzfus, 2005). It should not be surprising or upsetting to the coach if Janet abandons her original goal of owning a business and adopts a different goal as she explores her motivations and fears surrounding the prospect of entrepreneurship through the coaching relationship (Stoltzfus, 2005). It is very likely that coaching will help Janet discover the true source of dissatisfaction in her life and implement an appropriate plan to help her find the fulfillment she desires.
Cloud, H. (2008). The one life solution: Reclaim your personal life while achieving greater professional success. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Howell, R. T., Kurai, M., & Tam, L. (2013). Money buys financial security and psychological need satisfaction: Testing need theory in affluence. Social Indicators Research, 110(1) 17-29. doi: 10.1007/s11205-010-9774-5
Jayawarna, D., Rouse, J., & Kitching, J. (2013). Entrepreneur motivations and life course. International Small Business Journal, 31(1), 34-56. doi: 10.1177/0266242611401444
Luciani, J. J. (2004). The power of self-coaching: The five essential steps to creating the life you want. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Stoltzfus, T. (2005). Leadership coaching: The disciplines, skills and heart of a Christian coach. Virginia Beach, VA: Booksurge Publishing.