Holly was an engineer in her late forties with a successful career in the sciences. She enjoyed the work, the deep expertise she had developed, and being part of a larger scientific community. She was regarded as an expert in her field, and she enjoyed the prestige this afforded her.

She had also become increasingly frustrated by her thwarted efforts to progress in her career in ways that were important to her. She felt unsupported by her company, and she felt stuck. Holly suspected she may need to leave her company. Having spent most of her career there she worried that may not be easy to do. She wanted help sorting out if this was the right choice for her.

Like many people, Holly derived a deep sense of satisfaction from her professional life. Over time her identity had become heavily wrapped up in her work. She spent long hours in the office, and this was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. It had come at a cost to her personal life and she knew something needed to change. Whether she remained at her current employer or not.

“It was the right decisions for me and I’m so glad I made it”

Working with her coach, Holly began to unpack what she was experiencing at work and how this was affecting her. Together they explored what was working well, where she wanted to go in her career, and what was sticky in the sense of keeping her stuck.

As part of the coaching process, her coach recommended Holly complete the FIRO-B and MBTI Career assessments to help her understand the kinds of work environments that would best support her.

Woman standing at an imaginary crossroads with arrow signs pointing to the left and right.

For Holly, this provided a rich source of information that helped her understand why her current work environment was largely unsatisfying. Through this lens, she was able to see what would need to change and help her assess the extent to which that change would be possible.

What also emerged, was that Holly wanted to move into new areas in her scientific work. This was very important to her, and it was a critical piece of why she was feeling unsatisfied in her work. Her feeling thwarted had less to do with her title and career progression and more to do with the opportunity to do the work she wanted to do.

Her coach suggested that Holly test out an assumption she was making that her work situation couldn’t be improved, and she wouldn’t be able to do the work that was important to her. Holly spoke with the right people in her company and her assumptions turned out to be correct. This became the impetus behind her confidently making the decision to leave her organization.

Holly went on to join a company that was a much better fit; both in the work environment and the role. In her new role, she was able to move into the areas of scientific work that she aspired to. She had found a terrific opportunity to turn her aspirations into a reality. As she moved into her new work situation, Holly carried with her the practices that she had been working on with her coach that helped her manage her predilection to overwork.

A year later, she reported that she was very happy in her new company and role. “It was the right decision for me and I’m so glad I made it.”

Note: To honor confidentiality and protect the privacy of our clients we do not use names and have altered possibly identifying details in this Case Study.

About Perceptive Leaders LLC

Perceptive is a boutique leadership development and professional transitions consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado serving clients in the US and Canada, since 2005. We have worked with over 1,000 senior organizational leaders and accomplished career professionals to help them recognize opportunities for impactful and substantive change and how to realize that transformational change. For more than 15 years, Perceptive has been helping leaders and their teams transform their leadership. For more information, visit perceptiveleaders.com.

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