The career has gone well so far. Somehow it went up and up. 2 years ago then the chance for an international leadership position in an Asian country. The children were already out of school and the man flexible. When Maria Gabor (name changed) successfully passed the internal assessment for the position, the joy was great. It was like an adventure. Moving to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam and the region had long been a place of longing. The task was challenging: taking over an existing team and meeting sporting budgets in a dynamic environment.

The challenge was initially like a motivation kick

The first few months we flew by. The team was highly motivated and the collaboration worked out great from the start. Collaboration with suppliers and customers, government agencies and associations also worked well. Sure, there were always intercultural misunderstandings, but with humor and the help of her team, she mastered all these challenges. The numbers were correct, too. After a year, she received the best ratings from her boss in the staff appraisal interview. It was finally time for vacation. Everything done right.


The second year began with a major restructuring of the regions, planned and rolled out from the headquater. Her former boss had to say goodbye to Argentina and her own team was re-split, but colleagues from other teams came to her. The business had not changed. And she has always been good with changes. Optimistically she approached the new tasks. Their new boss, who is based in Sydney, came in the beginning once on a tour of his region and introduced himself. Since then she only communicated with him via e-mail and videoconferencing. The new one required much more reports than it was used to. She now had to spend a good deal of her time informing him and waiting for his feedback and decisions. She worked hard and yet was able to meet the budget, which was raised again every year.

Unexpected negative review

She was somewhat surprised when her new boss asked her for a conversation after a few months. He had come to Vietnam specially to talk to her. She was experienced enough to be worried. But what she had to experience then came as a shock to her. Her boss told her frankly that he disapproved of her performance and especially her leadership style. Do not be assertive and he expects all of his executives to come forward with clear messages and directives from employees and colleagues, as well as from suppliers. He sees so much more potential in their market and he is sure that with their soft nature they will not realize the potential. He asked her to understand this conversation as a clear warning and immediately act differently.

Personal Coaching

It took Maria a few days to recover from this shock. She then turned to her boss, asking for a personal coach. Her boss reacted positively to her initiative and together with the human resources department a coach was found for Maria.

The approach of personal coaching

There are many approaches to personal coaching. You can consult an expert if you can not solve a particular problem or a sparring partner with whom you work together on the topics. For Maria it was clear about the latter. The personal coach assumes that the coachee is capable of solving his own problems, but that he often gets into situations and issues where one can not go on alone or with the help of good friends and partners. Then, professional coaching can often provide the decisive impetus.

Development of a coherent solution in coaching

Maria could use her anger in coaching to re-analyze what exactly her boss needed from her, and what she could do to help her understand her leadership as assertively as the way he imagined it. Because this species is not hers. For her, the budgets were met by her and her team. Nevertheless, her boss could have a point in that she had overlooked important potentials. Did she understand her task too focused? Together with her coach, she developed strategies for identifying and securing potentials with her team. She continued, as was her way: cooperative, friendly and authentic.

New perspective leads to new behavior

The effects were amazing. Once the entire team understood that it was not just about budgeting, but that together they should continue to develop the business in the region, a whole new spirit of optimism came up. Within a short time, Maria was able to report new opportunities to Sydney to her boss and submit him promising strategies. Her boss was much more relaxed in the following talks and even praised her once for finally learning how to prevail.

Maria looks forward confidently to the next appraisal interview. Coaching transformed a crisis into an opportunity for itself. The effort had been surprisingly low. She has used just 6 coaching sessions.