Recent Client Assignments
Given the confidential nature of my work it is necessary to describe these assignments generically. If you would like more details I can request that my client be available to act as a reference for the work.
1. Cross-Cultural Teambuilding for a major global bank:
BackgroundMy client is the newly appointed leader of a global team of 9 senior executives.He has direct authority over 4 members of the team (the functional heads).The remaining members,who represent the major territories of the banks operations, report to their local CEO’s.The team were due to meet shortly,this being a rare face to face meeting.My client wanted to use the time to engender some real team spirit which would sustain beyond the meeting,and lead to enhanced collaboration.
Key issues that needed to be addressed were:
- How to rapidly build a collaborative spirit when opportunities for rapport building are limited and cultural norms are different
- How to build shared objectives when there are conflicting demands on how members prioritise their time
- What sort of leadership style should my client adopt to get best performance
I interviewed the team leader in depth to understand his concerns and the aims of the teambuilding.We used a positioning exercise to reveal his intuitive grasp of how the team was presently functioning.This enabled me to structure a set of questions to ask the team members.
I interviewed all the members of the team to establish their view of the present state of team functioning and to test their willingness to rapidly improve this.These interviews also created a sense of ownership of the team event with the team member,so it was not seen as simply the leaders imposition.
Analysis and response
Using the data I gained from the interviews I synthesised the key themes and issues that were preventing optimal performance.(see above).I designed an agenda that would surface these team and interpersonal issues around the main business objectives of the team,and not be seen as a separate exercise..At the start of the meeting I would present the synthesis of their interview data for discussion.This would create a shared platform to begin the meeting.We would also devote some time to an exercise where team members explored their personalities and ways of working and presented these to the team.This would rapidly increase their level of knowledge of each other,leading to more trust.There would be regular “timeouts” to review progress and deal with any outstanding or contentious issues.
In advance of the meeting the team leader and I discussed each of the team members and how he might best motivate and lead them.We also agreed our respective roles at the meeting.He would act as chairman,and I would faciltitate some of the sessions and be as challenger and expert witness in the others.
The event was judged by the team members to be the most honest and effective meeting they had experienced.Contentious issues which had long bedevilled them, were put on the table and discussed.Uncomfortable exchanges between team members were explored and resolved.The team leader was given direct feedback about the most effective way to lead the team.He in turn extracted clear commitments about the input of each team member to the team endeavour.
Achievements and Follow-up
I interviewed a representative sample of the team members 3 months after the event to review progress.This was substantive.There were a number of examples of enhanced cross territory collaboration.Useful communications between team members had increased dramatically.A project that had been long delayed by political infighting had been delivered.All the team members I interviewed were feeling more committed to the teams’ shared objective.
The team leader and I met to discuss these findings.We planned how to further consolidate the gains and address the remaining issues.
The work is ongoing.
2. Leadership coaching of a senior bank executive
My client has recently been promoted to CEO of a major territory of the bank’s operations.In this capacity he has direct authority over a large team.There are also a number of senior executives who operate from his territory but report to their functional leaders in HQ.With these executives he has to exercise influence without straight line authority.
My client has been recognized for his qualities of focus and drive.He is highly competent but also extremely impatient and intolerant of people who operate differently to him.His concern in taking up the new appointment is that he will not be able to moderate his impatience and that this will result in him missing some of the political and cultural nuances.In addition he realizes that achieving buy-in involves a different skill set,and that this is a much bigger requirement of the new role.
My client has been frustrated in the past by his inability to achieve a more flexible leadership style.He wants the coaching to help him achieve this.
I judged my client to be a perfect candidate for the Fast-track Leadership Workshop. Please click on the link to read about this in more detail.
This approach addresses the deep underlying causes of our behaviour.From the familial messages we receive when we are children,we formulate our own unique “map of the world”.This helps us navigate through life,It gives rise to our attitudes,which in turn drive our behaviour.It is only by revealing this map that we can both change and sustain behaviours.
My client was keen to undertake the work and rose to the challenge.
Our exploration revealed that this extreme impatience was linked to a business failure that his father had suffered when my client was 7 years old,and the impact this had had on the family circumstances.My client was unconsciously holding a belief that life was precarious and that unless he drove himself and others very hard,disaster could befall him. In the rational light of his adult circumstances my client was able to review this belief. He felt a great sense of relief when he fully understood why he had suffered from such extreme impatience.
Six weeks on,my client has reported a marked relaxation in his attitudes generally and that he feels much less stressed.He has already received feedback that he is managing the role transition well and that his new team find him approachable.He is still surprised at how relatively effortless it is for him not to reach the levels of impatience that were bedevilling him before.
We have agreed to meet on a six weekly basis to review his progress and to ensure this is sustained.Our focus will now switch to how he best leads and influences his key people.