The Uncommunicative Executive
Roy Anise, former vice president and general manager of Chrysalis Technologies, a division of Philip Morris USA, knew that he tended to be very directive and had trouble connection, but when his team gave him candid feedback for the first time he was surprised to learn that they judged him to be far more aggressive than he believed he was. As a result, they were uncomfortable expressing their viewpoints or making decisions on their own. He received similar feedback from his boss, which spurred him to seek coaching from Guttman.
During his first session with the coach, Anise explained that, as a leader, he was unsure of how his team was progressing and where he needed to take it next. His statement prompted the coach to comment, “Now I know why you are so intimidating.” “What are you talking about? I haven’t said anything to you,” countered Anise. “That’s exactly the point,” replied the coach. “You keep your cards so close to the chest, so covered up, that I have no idea what you’re thinking and what’s going on with you. I can see why people who work for you would feel the same sense of not knowing what’s going on with you. I can see why they’re intimidated.”
Anise bristled at the exchange. But a day later he contacted the coach to thank him for his insight. The coach, of course, had simply been mirroring his pupil’s behavior, which had caused the VP to see the light. As he said about his coach, “He exposed me and initially I didn’t like it, but I needed to hear it.” Once Anise had seen himself as others saw him, he could begin making changes. As he projected a more open, receptive image, the people on his team became more comfortable offering opinions and taking on decision-making responsibility.