Bull in a china shop


When he came to see Jody Michael Associates, John was a rising star at a Fortune 500 company. However, after making the first appointment, he questioned why he needed to hire us. According to John, everything in his life was great – unless, that is, you asked the people who had to work around him. The breaking point occurred when, for the third year in a row, John was denied a promotion to partner due to poor 360-degree reviews.


While John stated that he did not want to work with Jody Michael Associates, the possibility of not making partner a fourth time was something he loathed even more.

Needless to say, JMA cannot coach a client who does not want to be coached or is not open to change. John did not think his behavior needed modification. However, he did realize that he had hit the ceiling at his current firm. They had made that clear. It was the one bit of leverage that JMA had to work with.

We explained to him that he had a choice. Either (1) he could find a firm that promoted those with his personality traits or (2) he needed to learn how to work, lead and communicate as his peers and coworkers requested. He could improve his chances of making partner either way. John decided to try the latter approach.

Early in the assessment process, we realized that John was not a good listener. Among other things, he was self-absorbed, arrogant, anxious, highly confrontational and a bully. His reviews noted that, while he was considered a subpar leader and had anger management issues, he was a top producer and deemed a “high potential with a need for refinement.”

JMA engineered exercises and assignments that challenged John’s belief system. He had grown up as the youngest of five boys. Thus, he learned early that life was not fair, that he had to fight for what he wanted, and that bullying led to the spoils rather than to punishment. He had brought this approach into the business world, where the rules were different.

In session, Ms. Michael worked with John to provide him with practice in the situations that usually brought on his unruly behavior. He learned management techniques, as well as how to read people, how to work a room, and how to be empathetic. All the while, JMA was careful to make sure there were no competing commitments that were lurking to sabotage the entire process.


John realized that it was a “win-win” to bring his focus outside of himself to the people around him. Over time, he successfully changed how he addressed situations. Most importantly, he achieved the goal that brought him to JMA in the first place: The next year, his 360-degree reviews improved dramatically and his firm promoted him to partner. One of his coworkers went so far as to say that she had witnessed a “remarkable transformation” in him.

Please note: The names of clients, their employers and certain identifying details have been changed to respect their privacy and maintain confidentiality.