Coaching Client Stories
*Role and industries changed to protect confidentiality
Situation: A VP and Division CFO for a large financial services company wanted to become a stronger business partner and trusted advisor to the president of the division
Approach: Through interviews with the president and other key executives, we learned the VP was seen as resistant to innovation and change, and was therefore being excluded from key conversations related to the strategic direction of the business. We worked on taking a more balanced view of the business – the need for operational efficiencies and cost control and a focus on envisioning the future to embrace the directional changes needed for the division. We also worked on communication - how and when he expressed his views, to ensure he was expressing positive and forward-looking views, and not only commenting on financial concerns.
Results: The president reported that the VP has greatly increased his contribution to the executive team. He has taken an active role in co-creating and implementing the division’s new strategic direction, and is a key leader in driving the division’s change initiatives.
Situation: A senior partner in a technology consulting firm worked on developing and retaining talent in his fast-growing organization. He tended to be a “pacesetter” and expected everyone to keep up, often making excessive demands on his staff. As a result, several key people had left the team the previous year - people on whom he depended to grow the business and develop the staff underneath them.
Approach: Since he had a high-performing team by all accounts, we worked on developing a more supportive, facilitative leadership style that respected their ability to meet business objectives in their own way. He developed stronger connections with his key managers to better understand their needs, career goals, and priorities. He worked on providing feedback in a more supportive, motivational way that was tied to their career goals. Becoming aware of and managing his own stress level became one focus of our work, so that he could recognize when his stress was too high and he might revert to non-productive interactions with his staff.
Results: In progress interviews, his staff reported feeling more empowered, valued and motivated by their leader and they appreciated his efforts to retain and develop them.
Situation: The VP of Manufacturing for a technology company wanted to broaden his influence on the executive team. He was seen as a strong functional leader with potential to move to a business manager role, but needed to make a stronger contribution to enterprise-wide issues and strategies.
Approach: We explored and created plans for new areas where he could develop initiatives, partner with his cross-functional peers and leverage his general business knowledge in other areas of the organization.
Results: He was recently given a business line to manage and grow, and is also being considered for additional responsibilities on the executive team.
Situation: The VP of Product Development for a large software company was a "craftsman" at heart, and loved being directly involved in product innovation and delivery of services to clients. His challenge was to increase the overall capacity of his organization by leading from a higher level, empowering and stretching his very capable staff, and devoting himself to more visionary and strategic planning efforts. His greatest contribution lay ahead as he stepped back from the details of his operation and learned to lead, rather than manage.
Approach: We discussed his personal challenges with - and the loss associated with - letting go of the direct work of his craft. He recognized the benefits of focusing on the high-level vision for his organization and leading more strategically. An avid reader and learner, he asked for articles on specific topics, such as empowerment and strategy. We did a detailed talent review and brainstormed where he could delegate and empower his team more, and how to use situational leadership in that effort.
Results: His area produced several significant product innovations and helped increase revenue and overall market share. Several members of his team were recognized as leading innovation achievements and were given expanded responsibilities. The executive learned to enjoy seeing an entire organization be successful – from the individual achievements of his people to the industry recognition of his group’s innovations. He also realized that he greatly enjoyed seeing others grow and develop, in their skills and in their careers.
Situation: A VP running a business unit in a consumer products company was interested in understanding his leadership impact and how he could take his organization to higher levels of performance. He also had conflicted feelings about his significant leadership responsibilities, and what those responsibilities required of him in terms of time, energy and focus.
Approach: While he was exceptional at operational efficiency and structure, we explored how he could improve the culture of his organization to optimize employee engagement. We focused on developing a more inspirational leadership style, as well as ways he could leverage his process skills to implement talent development and retention programs throughout his organization. We also processed his conflicted feelings, the guilt he felt for not spending more time with his family, and his need for more time for relaxation and personal interests.
Results: His business achieved record profitability the next year and several members of his team were promoted or given expanded responsibilities. On a personal level, this rapidly-promoted leader matured in his understanding of how to balance his work commitments with other important areas of his life. He found creative ways to spend more time with his family, as well as pursue some personal interests and passions outside of work.