Tailor-made coaching services designed to fit your needs and help you move toward reaching your goals
Please contact Dr. Wiens for more information.
Career & Leadership
Dr. Wiens provides career and leadership coaching services for private and corporate clients that are customized to fit their needs and goals.
His professional training as a psychologist, combined with his experience in management consulting, enable him to assist business professionals and leaders in managing their personal and professional challenges to enhance effectiveness.
Dr. Wiens’ PhD research focused on leadership and the so-called ‘dark side’ of personality. This concerns the negative personal and interpersonal behavioural patterns that surface when leaders are under stress.
These can impair leadership effectiveness and even put managers at risk of career derailment unless leaders gain the knowledge and self-awareness needed to manage them.
Leveraging his deep knowledge of scientific leadership research, Dr. Wiens enables clients to gain insight and take actionable steps to overcome challenges so they can perform at their best.
Case studies are up-close examinations of people’s stories.
The following descriptions are not about real people. They are fictitious composites of some common coaching engagements to illustrate Dr. Wiens’ approach and how the coaching process adds personal and professional value.
Jack was a nice guy who was known for being a solid worker. He was a quiet individual who didn’t cause any problems and always did what was asked of him. He never asked for a promotion, even though he knew he was overdue for one. Eventually, though, his results could no longer be ignored. He was promoted to a frontline management role in a large engineering company.
He was eager to get promoted and join the management ranks but it was also somewhat discombobulating for him. He had always worked as an engineer dealing with the nitty gritty technical aspects of projects. Now, he spent much more of his time dealing with people issues, many of which he felt unprepared to handle. He was uncomfortable asking others for favours, much less giving directions and holding them accountable for results or addressing interpersonal conflicts.
Jack was encouraged to seek leadership coaching by a colleague who had overcome similar changes with the help of a psychologist. In our initial session we identified specific and measurable goals that would enable Jack to be a more effective leader and manager and a few possible ways to go about achieving these.
We first discussed his key responsibilities as a manager and outlined the areas that were challenging for him and the specific personal and interpersonal skills he needed to develop. Jack was a very logically-minded engineer who simply wanted a direct answer and to be given some feedback on how he could become more effective as a leader. We worked collaboratively to identify areas in which he was lacking information about how others on his team perceived him and we identified questions he could ask them to get the feedback he needed. Then, we reviewed the differences between what effective and ineffective leaders do in these areas and ways in which he could be more effective. I also recommended some resources to expand his knowledge on key topics.
We also set actionable and concrete behavioural goals that allowed him to make measurable progress toward developing the leadership skills that mattered for success in his role. These included, for example, specific behavioural tasks to increase his social presence and gravitas as well as to be more assertive and directive in his leadership style. Throughout the coaching process, he gained self-awareness of his fairly passive interpersonal style and we discussed how he could be more assertive without being authoritarian.
We discussed the tactics of how to be more assertive by outlining ways he could handle various difficult conversations. These included, for example, disciplining an under-performing employee and dealing with another conflictual one. We sometimes role played such situations or wrote scripts to encapsulate specific language that helped him to be more directive and firm when needed.
Over time Jack developed many of the skills needed to be a more effective leader. While he still sometimes reverted to his old ways of avoiding tense interpersonal situations, he now recognized these patterns sooner and took the steps to deal with the situation directly. By taking action and doing the small behavioural tasks we discussed, he developed his leadership capacity and skills and also felt more confident in the role.
In addition, he began applying the skills and tools he had learned through our coaching work to address challenges he had in his personal life. He left the coaching process equipped and empowered to be a better leader in all areas of his life.
Amanda was a very competitive and accomplished individual. After completing her MBA, she quickly climbed the corporate ladder of a Fortune 500 company. After being interviewed to join the management ranks, however, she was passed over. She was very bright, motivated, and had a stellar track record, but some of the executives worried she would have difficulty being an effective team player.
She was told she needed to develop her ability to work cooperatively with others and to gain their trust. They suggested she get leadership coaching to develop her ‘soft skills.’ Amanda was taken aback by these comments as she hadn’t realized how others perceived her. She knew she was fiercely competitive but she thought that this had helped her to be seen as more influential and respected. She seemed to always be the best at what she did.
We decided it would be helpful to conduct a 360 degree assessment which would provide specific feedback from subordinates, colleagues, and superiors. She found this to be an enlightening exercise that helped to validate some of her strengths, but perhaps more importantly it provided specific constructive feedback about how others saw her as overly domineering and authoritarian. We discussed how her hard charging and very assertive nature had helped her advance quickly in the organization, but how it could work against her in a leadership role. In other words, the strengths needed to succeed as an individual contributor in the company were different than those that would be required for a leadership capacity.
Being a driven person, Amanda was eager to work on growing as a leader and we started by discussing her goals as they related to leadership development and her career ambitions. We also carefully reviewed the 360 degree assessment feedback as a foundation from which to develop specific and measurable behavioural goals. Over several sessions, we identified different sets of actionable behaviours and tasks she could do to gradually move closer and closer toward achieving these goals. This enabled her to develop the necessary personal and interpersonal skills needed to be a more effective leader and team-player.
We also discussed some resources to expand her understanding of leadership. For instance, I suggested she read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by the renowned executive coach Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. This book encapsulates the outcome-oriented behavioural change process that mirrored what we were doing in our sessions.
Our sessions sometimes also involved some deeper reflection and soul-searching as Amanda discussed her values and was making conscious decisions about who she wanted to be as a leader. At other times, we discussed her challenges, came up with strategies to help her build new habits and create long-term change, or processed feedback she had received.
At the end of the coaching process, Amanda had a new appreciation for the importance of relationships and teamwork. She had become a stronger listener and was given feedback that others were now seeing her as someone they could trust rather than a threat. The emotional intelligence that she developed also improved her relationship with her partner and with other family members. She was still a very competitive individual, but now ensured she balanced this with being cooperative and empathic. Her efforts were noticed in the company and had an impact that resulted in increased leadership influence and effectiveness.
William was early in his career and while he had worked for a couple different companies, and done quite well, he was questioning his career decisions. He went into accounting largely because of pressure from his parents and to ensure he had career security. He liked the stability and financial rewards of his position, but he found it unsatisfying and after a few years of dragging himself to the office he came to the uncomfortable realization that something needed to change.
William knew that this was a pivotal time in his career and he wanted to be strategic about making a shift that would set himself up for a successful and fulfilling career down the road. He found me after searching online for a psychologist who provides career coaching.
In our initial session, we did a thorough review of his career history as well as his personal interests to better understand any types of activities or tasks that drew his interest as well as those that didn’t. Then we tried to identify themes among these and we probed deeper to determine the underlying reasons and factors that drove his interests. While this provided some idea of his interests, William was still unsure about his career direction.
As a result, we decided to do a career planning assessment that involved several hours of scientifically-validated psychometric measures that profiled his career interests, personality traits, behavioural styles, values, and aptitudes. While he had completed a few short online personality tests before, he was surprised by how comprehensive these were. We carefully reviewed his test results and I recommended key areas that he would want to pay attention to in his career search.
We discussed the types of jobs that would and would not align with his interests and personality. We also considered how these test results converged with his past experiences. I provided recommendations on how he could harness his strengths and address developmental needs to increase his effectiveness regardless of the role he would end up in. For example, he was quite a social individual who enjoyed working with others and having a lot of interaction, whereas spending hours on his own crunching numbers felt very depleting. He also realized how much he enjoyed getting to know new people, networking, and public speaking. His psychometric test results highlighted several important considerations. For example, with regard to his work style he tended to be somewhat impulsive and a procrastinator. He was at his best when provided with a structured work environment and accountability from others but too much autonomy and freedom were challenging for him. We listed all of the relevant personal qualities and interests to consider in his career hunt.
We then worked collaboratively to identify a few general career paths that would likely appeal to him. For instance, we discussed that if he wanted to avoid a complete career shift, he could prepare for and seek out a management role in his field that would align with his interests and skillset. We also considered other career paths that would be a good fit for him, such as working in the field of wealth management or in real estate. These would allow him the opportunity for much greater social connection and he could leverage his strengths in networking and social skills.
Together, we mapped out a plan and set goals to gain more information about each of these areas. This structure guided William’s research as he read online, talked to friends in related fields, and did a few informational interviews. Some of this was out of his comfort zone, but we made small tangible goals and discussed how to go about each step to make it more feasible. This helped him to gradually gain more clarity while also developing the skills and professional network needed to help realize his career dreams.