Coaching Chicken Little

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Management

I have a new favorite client. And I made him cry.
We were talking about a pattern in his professional life where he feels like Chicken Little: he sees a bad course of action underway, but his executive management doesn’t listen to him. He’s lived this pattern happen over and over.
I said, “So let’s break the pattern.”
And tears welled up in my client’s eyes. We were sitting in the Great Hall of Union Station in Seattle – a gorgeous, expansive space. He spread his arms wide, taking in the space of the room, relief shining on his face.
“Break the pattern,” he said. “Yes, let’s break the pattern. I don’t have anyone in my life who says to me, ‘Let’s break the pattern.’”
He does now.
We stayed in that expansive, optimistic moment where patterns can, actually, be broken, and then got super tactical:

  • Scheduling weekly one-on-ones with his VP who doesn’t return his calls or email
  • Saving up questions/topics for this one-on-one, rather than interrupting this VP with randomizing questions during the day
  • Asking for feedback during these one-on-ones so he has real data about his performance, rather than relying on his imagination
  • Preparing a Gantt chart or other visual to spoon feed to this VP the consequences of the current course of action

So he’ll try a new approach — a non-Chicken Little approach. And as his coach, I will help him explore who he is as a credible, professional, and influential guy who doesn’t rely on threats of “The sky is falling!” to be heard. Even if it makes him cry.