Client Sketch

See the stories of Pedro and Phaedra. They are composite client sketches. Maybe you see yourself in some part, or all. Read more


An engineer by training, Pedro, aged 39, lives in Europe, of non-European immigrant parents. Like his family of origin he is entrepreneurial. He is married with one young son and his wife and family is of keen importance to him. His work experience has been mostly in large multi nationals. Five years ago he became interested in the sustainability arena. Clear headed, hard working & intelligent, he is frustrated by the push back he experiences in implementing sustainability initiatives.


Pedro seeks coaching to develop as a change agent. He has always wanted to be CEO of a large company. He is currently experimenting with change efforts inside his own company. He is open to becoming an independent consultant and at the very least he wants to develop strong expertise in sustainability management. His current primary project is to develop and embed new sustainability enhancing processes and procedure across his company’s engineering departments.

Use of assessment tools:

Pedro assesses with “Achiever” as his center of gravity on the Global Leadership Profile. Pedro was briefly skeptical of the GLP, after all he did not “score” at the top. After debriefing, Pedro grew more intrigued by what might be possible in developing beyond a high achievement orientation that has often left him with difficulty in collaborating at the higher levels he knows he needs. On MBTI Pedro assesses as INTJ. An explicit coaching goal is to develop later stage capacity which we understand in this context as developing on GLP toward “transforming” and developing the “shadow” parts of his MBTI type, namely more ESFP, i.e., the extroversion, sensing, feeling and perceiving qualities of self that have been less developed. These developments will likely support success with his company projects.

Early pattern of obstacles:

In starting coaching, Pedro had grown disheartened by (and dismissive of) his work peers, frustrated by the irrational (to him) obstacles they present to his good ideas about sustainability. He explained this as resistance to change which he understands as a resistance by his to him because he is an outsider. He interprets it as a reluctance to look at themselves compounded by a general human fear of making change. We realized that previously the projects he took on had reinforced his understandable individual success and a deeply egocentric orientation. While producing results he also reinforced being a “high individual achiever” which had also increased skepticism about his willingness to collaborate.

Our coaching inquiry:

While it’s true many people are afraid of change, it’s also true that we need a more useful approach here. So we looked to better help Pedro find the clarity of his contribution and composure in the face of his resistant peers, at least enough to ALSO allow increase in fruitful collaboration. hilary2We therefore inquired into ways to work with his peers, e.g., how to speak personally in a way that is meaningful to others; how to design mini experiments in allowing others coordinate and align with him. In these efforts we are developing later stage capacity in advanced systems thinking and coordination. Pedro is also demonstrating personal willingness to reach out and include to colleagues, designing with them rather than for them.


Phaedra is a composite client who draws on each level of – personal, team, organizational – intervention. Perhaps you can imagine something of value for yourself too…


Phaedra combines many of the features we meet in our clients. Mid 40’s having “leaned in” for five years as a human resources executive. Phaedra’s company is in the Food industry and increasingly under the scrutiny of stakeholders’ demanding healthier options, forcing a revolution in company culture. Phaedra was groomed for upper management, asked to take on a lot because she gets a lot done. In support of the new CEO, her vision was to hire and retain the best and brightest. This also meant breaking with the conventional view of HR as a benefits office, a cost center. But more and more she found herself reacting, fire-fighting, engaging in turf battles. Mother to an elementary school child, and with a marriage at best in the doldrums, her work/life balance was also stressful. She called after yet another C-team meeting had left her feeling unappreciated. Should she lean in or get out? But she couldn’t afford to get out! What to do?

After (9 months in)

Personal coaching started with Phaedra by assessing her whole life, (with a life spheres analysis) to help Phaedra articulate her ambitions and intentions for both her work and her personal life. Choosing from a suite of tools, P. chose the online guided reflective leadership journal as an aid to weekly reflection, augmented by skype coaching. Image of Hilary As an individual contributor this led Phaedra to enjoying executive level team meetings as opportunities for building alliances. Her own increased clarity (from coaching and the leadership journal) provided Phaedra with brief but punchy statements that clearly communicated her contribution to those around her. A further 360 degree appreciative review coordinated with a dozen of Phaedra’s colleagues and friends from all parts of her life, allowed P. experience a lot more support than she realized. She also saw that a few on her team needed to transition to other employment and was able to address that successfully.

Because team development had lagged through the firefighting it was time for a semi-annual half day workshop. Designed for team members there were quick wins with 1) getting team alignment and 2) creating more clear accountability around current practices. The space was ready to introduce helpful conflict management and team conversational tools. A few are still so popular with the team they’re even used in the monthly drinks after work meeting. The result has been a release of a lot of pent up frustration and a more inviting environment which is showing positive results in terms of departmental productivity. With clarity emerging and less conflict stewing, Phaedra’s vision for her department was much easier to share with those around her. Phaedra felt herself “seated in her groove” (clients words) and felt confident enough to give herself and her team permission to turn off their cell phones and enjoy family time. She even decided it was time to address that languishing marriage. Her take charge attitude in the boardroom was not working in her home-life. Phaedra elected to do additional integrative couples work (with Hilary and her partner Dana Carman). After just 5 couple to couple coaching sessions, a new direction at home emerged. Nurturing a feminine sphere in addition to complementing the successful professional drive that happily thrives at work, Phaedra deemed the work some of the best use of her time in decades.