Director of Operations
Audrey Averill found herself as a “very young manager without a lot of experience”. When her company’s CEO offered her a coaching opportunity with Carolina Business Coach to work on her Executive Leadership skills, Audrey was eager to learn.
Six years later, as the Director of Operations of the organization’s Charlotte and Greensboro offices, this confident professional is:
Leading by Example
“Back then, I was very good at doing the day-to-day tasks of my job; tasks are comfortable. On the other hand, getting to know my staff wasn’t natural for me. It was important to make connections with others so they would feel they were working together with me, not just for me.”
As her coach, Harvey Smith helped Audrey develop key skills in communication, delegation and talent management. Audrey shared that, “I had a propensity to rapid fire solutions before hearing others out. I guess you could say my management style was, my way is the best way.
“Once Harvey taught me the value of active listening; I started taking the time to hear what the other person was saying, and engaging him or her in conversation. Instead of starting every encounter by asking, ‘What are you going to accomplish?’, I starting asking, ‘What’s interesting to you this day or this week or this time in your life?’ I’d find out about their lives outside the office, their families and their interests. Once I learned to appreciate and value others’ points of view, it created a level of connection and comfortability that translated directly into productivity.
“Through my coaching work, I’ve become a more authentic leader. I didn’t realize how my mood or attitude would affect everyone around me, positively or negatively. Now I am ok saying, ‘I’m having a tough day today but I’m ok and I wanted you to know.’ It takes all the tension out of it and people don’t take it personally if I’m not at my best. We all have days like that, when the energy just isn’t flowing.”
Coaching has also had a significant impact on the rest of the organization. “The DISC and other assessment profiles that Harvey introduced us to are now ingrained in our fabric, from recruiting to managing. Our leadership team is immersed in the ‘Language of DISC’, which makes our communication simple and clear. We wanted our staff to have the same skill set—and it’s been highly effective in creating an environment of trust, productivity and fun. In my 9 years with HF Financial, this is the best it’s ever been for me.”
In response to how she would explain how coaching “works” to someone who hasn’t experienced it, Audrey shared that “Harvey lets me be who I am; he matches that level of passion and validates that emotion and then we can have a conversation about it. EVERY time I have done what Harvey has suggested it has 1) made me feel better and 2) resulted in something fruitful for the organization.
Is there any advice she would give to others based on her own experience? “You have to be willing to commit to coaching and do the work. It’s a worthwhile investment and it can be life-changing. I can say that every day I work at being a better leader because of this experience. And I love my job. I love the environment, the people, the challenges and the growth. I love seeing the results of the hard work I’ve put into my company and myself.”