I had a very interesting experience with a client who was looking for a high performance coach for his leadership team. We had provided a proposal around three months beforehand detailing how we would assist him as the project manager and his leadership team over a two year period to drive high performance on an important project.
In terms of background, I had worked with this client when he was part of another management team. It had been a challenging relationship due primarily to our very different styles and approach. I liked to ensure leadership teams map out the big picture whereas this client preferred a step by step approach. When facilitating, I encouraged leadership teams to plan out key programmes, events and ensure they were focussed on the next 90 days whereas this client had an approach focussed on dealing with items as they arise.
I wish to stress that there is nothing wrong with differences. I believe that balance is very important when selecting leadership teams, teams and partnerships. However, when it comes to a project manager working with a consultant who is their coach, this can be problematic. There must be alignment on philosophies, styles and values. There must be a want to plan out and align approach and ensure that they are united. Without this, challenges will eventuate at some point that may not be resolved.
In terms of the proposal, the client rang me this week to let me know we were unsuccessful and they had chosen to go with someone else. One of the main reasons was the fit between him and myself. He had recognised the differences that existed and felt that this had been a challenge. We both agreed in the discussion that the fit was not right and that he had made the right decision to not go with us.
Post the phone call, I was naturally disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to be the coach of this exciting project. However, it very much reinforced my thinking that you cannot fake fit. There are some people you work with naturally and seamlessly as a coach and you enjoy these jobs immensely. There are others where the fit is never there and it does not help you or the client. Have the courage to call it up front and your client will respect you for it. You will also enjoy your work more for it.