A Managing Director of a leading property services company faced the challenge of integrating a subsidiary business within his region. This required successfully merging different operating models, divergent business strategies and people to form ‘one team’.
Overnight the dynamic of the leader’s business radically changed. He was confronted by two very different cultures; each with individual requirements, business focus and strong personalities.
Simultaneously, his own business function was handling a number of challenging client assignments, placing considerable pressure on fatigued resources culminating in strained relationships amongst board members. As a consequence, the senior management team found themselves fire-fighting and resolving operational issues pushed up the line, either by disgruntled junior staff or inexperienced managers.
These simultaneous calls on the Managing Directors time were draining energy and focus away from the combined business vision, which he needed to clarify and embed.
Impact of Coaching
Engaging a coach helped the leader to carve out much needed space and time to think away from the business. He realised he needed support to ‘act as a sounding board’ and to challenge his thinking, behaviours and perception. He also required the coach to ask thought provoking questions to challenge him and to hold him accountable for any proposed actions arising from his coaching insights.
The year-long coaching programme helped him to identify his blind spots and blockers. He recognised an unhelpful pattern of behaviour. In giving too much guidance to his direct reports he hindered them from ‘thinking through their own issues’ and creating more innovative solutions. Simple modifications to his thinking and behaviour prevented him from being ‘played’ or having problems delighted upwards. His reports came to understand ownership of their issues and the need for effective collaboration. It also alerted him to the dangers of other people’s unconscious operating habits, particularly some who took longer to accept the new organisational approaches.
Our discussions revealed how the prevailing tensions had impacted his behaviours, causing him, on occasion to display his frustrations and unwittingly be complicit in reinforcing the negativity within his senior team. In deepening his self-awareness, he started to challenge his own assumptions and judgements concerning others whilst modifying his behaviours to enhance his effectiveness.
With the support of a coaching programme, including 10 x 2-hour, one to one session, he gained much needed encouragement that ‘feeling stymied’ is normal for all leaders. This recognition alone was a much-needed catalyst to set him free to ‘think ‘through his challenges with a fresher and clearer perspective. Removing leadership guilt in turn allowed him the space to calmly generate better ideas, map out a plan of action and improve his decision-making skills.
Adopting an iterative process, the leader acted and thought his way into a new stronger style of leadership where he successfully empowered and supported his team to integrate the two businesses.