Reena is a loyal and responsible controller at a multinational tech company. Born in Canada to immigrant parents from India, she considers herself Canadian; however, she ticks the South Asian ethnicity box.
When we started coaching together, Reena felt she was sometimes holding herself back because she didn’t grow up with role models who looked like her. Although she wasn’t always alongside confident women, she was surrounded by strong women who had courage, took risks, and overcame their fears.
Reena was tired of playing it small at the onset of our work together. She focused too much on work and wanted more balance in her personal and professional lives. She loved how much ambition she had and didn’t want to let that go; however, she wanted to get back out there and start dating again after her divorce. She realized she had thrown herself into her work, closed down her heart, and lost focus on nurturing her relationships.
She loved her friends but noticed that they would constantly make disapproving comments. She knew they were amazing people, but it was no longer good for her confidence.
Reena was worried about her future as she lived with constant pain and migraines. Some days, it was hard to get out of bed, but she would always push herself.
As a woman of color with South Asian roots, she experienced unique challenges from her organizational role and her cultural background. Despite her strong technical acumen and work ethic, Reena often felt disconnected from her direct reports and struggled to assert herself due to ingrained cultural beliefs. This case study explores the coaching journey that helped her build better relationships, negotiate a new role, and overcome cultural barriers.
Reena’s South Asian upbringing emphasized humility, respect for hierarchy, and avoiding confrontations. While these values had merits, they sometimes hindered her ability to communicate assertively and openly in a Western corporate context.
- Building Relationships: Reena’s direct reports expressed that she was distant and unapproachable. Her feedback style was often perceived as vague, leading to miscommunication. This impacted her personal relationships as well.
- Negotiating a New Role: Reena desired a role that better suited her skills and aspirations, but she felt conflicted about advocating for herself. She was taught not to be seen or heard, so to put herself out there, she needed to overcome a lot of negative self-talk.
- Cultural Beliefs: Reena grappled with beliefs that sometimes limited her, like fearing she’d be perceived as “pushy” or “demanding” if she spoke up. She grew up in a family where the women didn’t speak up or ask for what they wanted.
- Building Trust and Empathy: Reena was coached to initiate one-on-one meetings with her team. She learned active listening techniques, opened up about her own experiences, and encouraged feedback. This created an environment of mutual respect.
- Assertive Communication: Role-playing exercises helped Reena develop a balanced communication style, allowing her to give clear feedback and set expectations without compromising her authenticity.
- Self-reflection and Overcoming Limiting Beliefs: Through guided reflection, Reena recognized the deep-seated beliefs that held her back. She learned to challenge and restructure limiting thought patterns and reframe her cultural strengths (like empathy and respect) as assets.
- Negotiation Skills: Reena was equipped with strategies to articulate her value proposition, negotiate her desired role, and navigate potential counteroffers.
- Strengthened Team Dynamics: The newfound open communication that Reena created resulted in improved team morale and performance. Feedback from her direct reports confirmed the people she worked with felt more understood and valued.
- Role Advancement: Using her refined negotiation skills, Reena successfully advocated for a role that aligned with her passion and expertise. Through clear articulation of her contributions and vision for the future, she convinced senior leadership of the value she brought.
- Empowered Self-Perception: Reena began to view her cultural background as a source of strength. By reconciling her South Asian values with her corporate environment, she fostered a unique leadership style that was both compassionate and assertive. She made new friends and established new relationships with old friends. She felt more inspired, passionate, and aligned with her values. Her glow and inner light came back. She was having fun in life again.
Reena’s journey underscores the transformative power of coaching, especially when navigating the intricate interplay of professional aspirations and cultural identity. By bridging the gap between her roots and her corporate role, Reena achieved professional success and became an inspiring beacon for many others navigating similar challenges.
If you are interested in coaching with Manpreet, join our Ishvara: Rise of Women of Culturally Diverse Backgrounds 4 month coaching program or schedule your complimentary consult to see if this is the right program for you.