The Big Bad Wolf: External Coaching and Problematic Personalities


Rick was a successful senior manager who had a knack for building highly effective teams with some of the best and brightest his organization had to offer. He was well respected among his peers, admired by his staff, and feared by those who couldn’t quite meet to his expectations. He was aggressive, arrogant, and quick tempered, traits that seemed to serve him well in his male dominated organization.

He would leave a path of destruction if things weren’t going his way, but at the end of the day, he delivered results. The organization’s senior management would look the other way, pretend not to notice the dead bodies, and ignore the statistics that screamed “Houston, we have a problem!” All of this was because he delivered results.

One day it all came to an end. He finally met his match! He could no longer control the parts of his personality and leadership style that offended so many, even when that person was his boss! Yes, he upset the wrong individual – a senior leader who had been growing weary of Rick’s ways – and his illustrious career came to an abrupt end.

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever wondered why an organization would allow this to happen? Do you want to ensure that this doesn’t happen in yours?

Managing personality and leadership styles in the workplace can be one of the most difficult things an human resource professional or manager may have to do. When those salient traits become weaknesses instead of strengths, it’s time to face the facts. Managers and HR professionals may want to consider bringing in an expert – someone who understands personality and leadership styles and the impact they can have in the workplace – to address issues like these. Many organizations turn to an external coach for help.

External coaches come in all shapes and sizes, with various qualifications appropriate for different situations. It’s important to select an external coach who possesses experience heightening individuals’ self-awareness – the foundation needed for any development to occur – who can work to identify strengths and weaknesses, help enhance aptitudes and minimize deficiencies, as well as providing an objective perspective to both recipients of coaching and organizations.

Anthony Tjan, co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck,” states in a Harvard Business Review article that leaders with high levels of self-awareness are integral to team success. He finds a trinity of factors can help leaders develop the self-awareness needed to avoid a fate similar to Rick: know thyself, improve thyself, and complement thyself. Many individuals struggle to do this on their own, and external coaches can help bridge this gap.

If an issue or problem individual is engaged early enough, an external coach can help turn “problem” employees into productive ones, saving organizations thousands of dollars in time and money. Better yet, integrating an external coaching component as part of an organization’s overall leadership development strategy is a better solution to grow and develop employees, thwarting “problems” before they escalate. This approach also is an effective tool in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest talent.


Roberta is a certified coach and leadership development consultant with a wealth of experience offering professionals opportunities for growth and focused goal achievement. She is certified as a WorkPlace Big Five Assessment Consultant and also in the Benchmarks 360 feedback tool through the Center for Creative Leadership. Roberta received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Fredonia and her MBA with a concentration in Human Resources Management from UB.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.