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An L&D Leader We’re Watching: Zee Gunjevic

"A L&D leader we're watching: Zee Gunjevic" next to Zee's headshot

This month we spoke to Zee Gunjevic, learning & development program manager at TextNow. Zee oversees his organization’s coaching efforts, aligning them within a broader leadership development strategy. He shared with us how he thinks about the role of coaching in his organization and how he’s seen its impact—both organizationally and personally. 

Q: What is the value of coaching?

Something for me that has really come to light since I’ve started coaching is that you start to learn things about yourself and your leadership development that you wouldn’t otherwise know. Your coach is able to tap into things that you discuss during both past and current conversations, and by doing so, is able to help you see the bigger picture. 


Last week, my coach told me that in the 10 months or so that we’ve been working together, she can pinpoint every point where she noticed where I was able to grow and where I stopped talking about something that had hindered me before because I had learned how to get to that next level. I think that’s one of the most important things about coaching. You don’t always see [how you’ve changed] until somebody points it out to you, and says hey, “we’ve been talking about this for a couple of months now, but the way you’re talking about it is completely different, and you’re much more confident about it.

Q: After providing coaching to your organization, have you noticed any changes in how people interact with each other?

Yes. I’ve talked to a few people recently that told me that, because of the group coaching that we offered, they’re able to look at different situations with their peers and direct reports in a different way. They are also using some of the models and methods that were taught during those group coaching sessions to better align both within their own teams and with other teams in the organization as well.


[Some of these group coaching topics included] how to deliver feedback, how to communicate top-down, and how to accept bottom up communication. I’ve witnessed a shift in the organization that supports the theory that coaching is definitely good for the organization as a whole, not just for the individual.

Q: Can you tell me a little more about why it’s important for more than just senior leaders to have access to coaching?

They’re the next generation of leaders. If we don’t provide individual contributors with the tools to level up and grow, then we’ll just stagnate at the end of the day. And whether or not that individual contributor decides then to move to another organization is not really the point. Then we’ll have someone else that will participate in the program and maybe they’ll move up the ladder internally. But we still want to give all those people the chance to learn and grow, and learn and grow with the organization as a whole. 


It’s never made sense to me why senior leadership gets all the development perks because everyone else is doing the [technical] work. [Senior leaders] are managing strategy, so I’m not saying they’re not doing work, but everyone else needs that same time to prepare in order to get to that level, and it only makes sense to offer it to everyone. 

Q: How have you thought about coaching’s influence on the culture of TextNow and vice versa?

[Coaching] 100% influences the values [of TextNow] and vice versa. The first of our values is “people first.” So giving people this development opportunity is first and foremost in line with that. Another one of our values is “give a damn.” We give a damn about your development. That includes [sending the message that] we want you to succeed. It’s okay to fail, but we don’t want you to fail, and we want to make sure that we can give you the tools in order to be successful.


This article was featured in Torch’s newsletter, Curiouser. Each month, we deliver the latest research, stories, questions, and insights about the art and science of coaching to your inbox. Sign-up and join a community of people who are passionate about growth, learning, and leadership.