Leadership is about building a team & guiding it to outperform the competition
Systematic. Significant. Sustainable.
I help executives improve their performance by addressing the paradoxical demands that make leadership a balancing act. Most of my clients are executives and their teams within Fortune 500 – 1000 organizations, across a range of industry sectors:
Breaking Out of the
Frank is considered an industry expert and a "superstar" in the company. His superior believes that Frank has "untapped potential; is wicked smart, very competitive, and impresses me with his innovation and creativity." At the same time, he has reservations about promoting Frank into a top executive position—"he is very good one-on-one but people don't feel it unless they get to know him. It's a ‘presence' thing. He needs to learn how to capitalize on his strengths if he is going to be a player in the C-Suite." Frank has aspirations to be a CEO in the future. At the same time, he largely agreed with his boss' assessment of his current leadership style. Therefore, Frank approached Human Resources (HR) about retaining an executive coach.
Step 1: Setting Expectations + Expand
HR recommended to Frank three potential executive coaches who had been vetted by the company. After "get to know you" interviews with each candidate, Frank selected me as his coach. At this point, he and I met to discuss his goals and to outline the process we would employ. Next, Frank and I sat down with his superior to understand his expectations, review the coaching process, discuss confidentiality, and respond to any of his questions or concerns. We also agreed on which colleagues we should ask to provide feedback to Frank. The three of us decided to meet again once Frank reviewed his feedback and had begun to create an action plan.
Step 2: Data Collection + Expand
I interviewed Frank and 15 colleagues about his leadership. He and his co-workers also completed a 360-degree survey. This combination of qualitative and quantitative data provided information on Frank's strengths, strengths overused, and shortcomings that are evident in his leadership style as well as in his ability to make strategic and operational decisions. In addition, I interviewed Frank and his spouse to better understand what motivates him, important influences related to his life outside work, and how he balances the demands of his job.
To complement this behavioral data, Frank completed assessments that provided information on three aspects of his personality. First, is an understanding of his core values, goals, and interests and how they drive what he focuses on and his perceived priorities at work. Second, his typical approach to work and interactions with others—how he behaves "at his best." This involves considering both performance facilitators (personality strengths) and potential detractors (shortcomings and strengths overused). Finally it is important to examine performance risk factors—likely blind spots and problematic interpersonal behaviors that can disrupt relationships, corrupt judgment, and interrupt a Frank's ability to ability to build and lead his team. These "dark side" tendencies are often difficult to detect because they co-exist with well-developed social skills and make a positive impression on others in the short run.
Step 3: Feedback & Planning + Expand
After collecting this large trove of data, Frank and I met for a one-on-one session to debrief the data, discuss themes and insights, and explore the consequences and implications of the feedback. A few weeks later, Frank and I met again to consolidate the feedback and distill the key themes. Together, we created a profile of his strengths and limitations, and an action plan that included specific goals and desired results from coaching.
Step 4: Taking Action + Expand
At this point, Frank and I reconnected with his superior to share his learning, insights and action plan. Frank's superior was pleased with Frank's progress. He offered some helpful suggestions, buy-in for the plan and pledged to support Frank in accomplishing the goals he had set. In addition, Frank shared some of the feedback themes and his action plan with other key stakeholders, including his direct reports, peers, and select members of the senior leadership committee.
Frank and I began 18 months of coaching, biweekly at first, and then moved to monthly sessions. As a way of monitoring his progress, Frank completed a customized survey every Friday. Although it only took him about five minutes, the discipline of completing this survey helped keep his goals top of mind, introduced accountability and carved out "reflection time" on a regular basis.
Step 5: Evaluating Progress + Expand
18 months after our coaching sessions began, Frank and I created a customized, targeted survey to gauge the amount of change others had experienced in his leadership. I also conducted follow up interviews with each of the initial raters.
• "Much more focused on his command presence, willing to be out front. He is more certain of himself."
• "He is becoming more assertive, more direct in meetings and does a better job taking a leadership position and a firm stand around controversial issues, which in the past he would have avoided or talked around."
• "He is now engaged in all aspects of the business, not just his area. He also has a broader, more enterprise-focused view."
As this phase of our work together drew to a close, Frank and I met again with his superior. He noted, "Tremendous change. I've seen him get out there more and initiate contact. He is much more forceful in meetings. More strategic." Around this same time, the CEO announced a major change to the structure of the organization. One result was a large increase in span and responsibility for Frank. Frank's superior and the EVP of HR indicated that the changes in Frank's leadership were key factors in their decision to promote Frank into this larger and more strategic role.