Success Stories and Testimonials about Former ABRASIVE LEADERS

Do Our Coaching Programs Really Work?

Our Success Stories and Testimonials Speak For Themselves!

Our portfolio of select client success stories will give you a sense of the challenges for which we are chosen to address, the range of our assignments, and the bottom line impact of our work.

You may well recognize some of your own challenges in one or more of these stories – and invite you to envision similar outcomes for yourself and your organization and the difference it could make for you and your company.

Success Stories & Testimonials about ABRASIVE Leaders:

The Senior Vice President within a Global Financial Services Company had always been a high performer with a string of significant business successes. He had a huge ego and lived in the command and control leadership mode. He was completely results oriented and did not treat people respectfully. He viewed people as there to serve him because his frame of reference was ‘my way or the highway’. His abrasiveness resulted in increasing chaos in the organization. When he was assigned a project that required collaborating with people in different parts of the organization, three other SVPs refused to work with him – and they also refused to subject any people within their teams to work with him! At this juncture, the rubber had hit the road. His management advised him that he needed to dramatically change his attitude and behavior. Going forward he would be expected to achieve his results in a collaborative and respectful manner. This meant that all abrasiveness and discord needed to be replaced.

Initially, he and I met with his direct manager who advised him of the specific positive consequences of improved and sustained behavior – as well as the negative consequences of no behavior change or change that would not be sustained.

After I conducted in-depth interviews with a significant number of individuals with whom he frequently interacted, I delivered the feedback to him. He then decided which one of the themes in the feedback to begin addressing.  We crafted a comprehensive strategy to mitigate or eliminate those abrasive behaviors, and we did this each time he began to address each of the themes in the feedback.

Clearly, the changes that were needed were difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, since he was just as focused on these needed improvements as he was when working on a business issue, he was successful. His intensity and courageousness carried him through this entire process.

He seems to have acquired an awareness and respect for how he is coming across in meetings and social gatherings.  He no longer positions himself to be the center of attention.  He has stopped interrupting and poking holes in other people’s comments.  He is reaching out and engaging others.  Since he now collaborates instead of dominates, people are no longer reticent to work with him.  I don’t know how you did it, SJ, but you helped save an invaluable asset to our company.  Thanks again for the great work you have done with “X” this year.  Executive Vice President of a Senior Vice President in a Financial services Company. 


A Senior Scientist within a Global Consumer Products Company had been with the company for the 23 years of his entire business career.  He was considered a world-wide expert in his field.  He had risen up to be the assistant head of his department.  When the head of the department retired, he was expecting to be promoted to the top spot.  When his boss told him that this would not be possible since so many people complained about how critical and intimidating he was, he was very upset.  His boss suggested coaching to help him change specific behaviors – so that other scientists and business partners would stop refusing to work with him.

Early on in the coaching I learned about the demands that his father had placed on him as a child – nothing less than perfection was acceptable.  Subsequently, the results of my interviews with co-workers revealed that he was treating people the same way that his father had treated him.

In our fourth coaching session, he advised me that on the previous day he had led a full-day meeting with some 10 participants – and at the end of the meeting one of his biggest complainers got up, walked around the table and gave him public positive feedback about how he led the meeting and handled differences within the meeting.  It was, then, all uphill from then on!

In his latest mid-year review, I told “X” that I had obtained all good feedback about him – no new or additional negatives. People are finding him more approachable and communicating more effectively.  They feel he is now part of the team and that everyone feels included.   Thank you for all of your support.  Managing Director of a Senior Scientist at a Global Consumer Products Company. 


A former surgeon was brought into a bio-tech company to lead the marketing for the company’s only product.  Since she had no previous business experience, she used her commanding leadership style – and perfection that is needed in the OR in dealing with people.  Co-workers were turned off and didn’t want to cooperate or work with her.

She cried when we reviewed the results of the interviews that I had completed.  As we began to address the themes in the feedback report, she would provide lengthy explanations and rationales to support her behaviors.  Reluctantly, she began to implement the strategies we crafted and to use the techniques and tools that I offered.  At the end of the coaching she was then able to say:

I am confidently collaborating – and no longer dominating.  People are finding me approachable and no longer reticent to work with me.  I am enjoying being a part of the team and coming to work.  And, in my latest mid-year review I received all positive feedback.  Thank you for all your support. Director at the bio-tech Company.


A Vice President within a Global Insurance Company was experiencing challenging and dysfunctional relationships with several of her team members.  She, herself, was a delightful, very bright, organized, strong-willed, and fast-paced individual.  For her, perfection was paramount – and patience was not her forte!

As we were reviewing her feedback report and discussing her strengths she realized that a key issue for her was that she was usually 8 steps ahead of her team members so that they were often not communicating ‘on the same wave-length’.  With this first insight she was then able to begin to demonstrate patience as she would communicate with them at their level of understanding.  Subsequently, as she continued to self-diagnose and adjust her behaviors, the tense atmosphere of the team changed into a more harmonious one.

Clearly the time we arranged for this high potential manager to spend in guided self-reflection and assessment through 360 degree feedback with Sara Jane has been invaluable in helping her have a higher degree of self-awareness of her own reactions, body language and responses. Tools acquired through the series of discussions have been used and the feedback taken to heart. I can see evidence of these tools being operationalized very often.  Some of these subconscious behaviors are long standing so increasing our employee’s ability to self-diagnose, seek and use feedback and then behavior modification tools are exactly what she needed.  It is still an on-going challenge for her, but her ability to self-correct is contagious and has improved the working of the entire unit.  Senior Vice President of a Vice President at Global Insurance Company.


The Marketing Director within a multi-billion dollar investment firm was brought in as a change agent to migrate the company from an insular to a customer-focused organization. She was an incredibly smart, dynamic, and fast-paced individual who lacked the patience and sensitivity to deal with those who were slower or ‘just didn’t get it’. And, since this organization was predominantly comprised of individuals who had never worked in any other company – including her CMO boss – her frustration level was always high. She needed to centralize disparate marketing functions, as well as create new ones, and to do this she needed to exhibit the same customer-focus within the organization that she was trying to bring to the organization. While she knew what needed to be done she did not necessarily know how to go about getting it done.

Working together, and using the results of several personality and behavioral assessments and feedback from key stakeholders, we brought to light the counter-productive behaviors that were getting in her way of obtaining the needed buy-in for strategic decisions and enhancing the natural  resistance  among those who were being  directly  impacted by the organizational  changes.

We discussed new behavioral strategies that took into account her natural dynamic, fast-paced style and tendencies. We employed tools to help and broaden her behavior repertoire, build rapport, and align her with her stakeholders.

Initially, she, herself, was resistant to implementing these new ideas since she had previously been so successful in several Fortune 50 companies and saw no need to change herself. This resistance and inconsistent use of suggested new behaviors exacerbated the resistance among her stakeholders. Over time, as she achieved some successes with her new behaviors, she ‘relented’, doors opened up, and the needed buy-ins and culture change began to be realized.

I am pleased with her progress.  I recognize that change does not take place over-night – so she is a work in progressChief Marketing Officer.


A deputy to the General Counsel in a global pharmaceutical company, was smart and fast-paced, and an expert in his field of law – which made him especially invaluable to the firm. This deputy, however, was also demonstrating a lack of patience with most of his internal clients – and some of his external vendors.  Complaints about him were rampant and grating on the nerves of the General Counsel especially since the complaints were a major distraction for everyone.  So the deputy was referred for coaching.  While he was polite, he was also somewhat annoyed, if not angry, that he had been referred for coaching.  He went through the motions of participating until one day when he actually used one of the strategies we had discussed – and reaped the positive benefits in terms of avoiding a conflict during a meeting.  After that, while he never quite fully opened himself up to realize the full value of the coaching, he did a sufficient amount of work to mitigate the rampant complaints.

“SJ, thanks for following-up with me about ‘X’.  He is doing fine.  I have not directly had any complaints about him or heard anything through the grapevine, nor has he experienced any problems with his own colleagues.  Bottom line, ‘all quiet on the western front’.  General Counsel.