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Manufacturing and Retail

Managing Upwards

An MD of a major international retailer, used to a high pressured and fast paced dynamic environment, was considered for further promotion. He was not successful in his application and over-night found himself reporting to a new leader. The anecdotal reputation of the new boss, was someone whose behaviour was often unreasonable, unpredictable and unprofessional.

As a leader, well versed in considering the impact of organisational change on its people, the MD held a number of concerns his talent would not be well received or understood by his new boss. He feared being seen as a ‘maverick’, reportedly the view of a number of existing board members.

Realising he would require a carefully focused perspective to navigate and build a successful relationship this new boss the MD hired a coach. The focus was to challenge him to effectively manage the transition to the new reporting line, develop his leadership capabilities and create a rewarding partnership with the new boss.

It was evident he felt frustrated and dejected after recently going through a disappointing experience; heightened by the unsubstantiated feedback given in support of the decision not to promote him.

Impact of Coaching

Through coaching, he came to understand the importance of self-reflection as a vital tool in their continual growth and self-development. He came to realise the value in developing personal ‘rituals’ (things that give people the opportunity to pause, look inside and to sustain positive energy) as a way of recovering and taking a break from the linearity of relentless goal-oriented activity.

This meant that the MD managed his time to greater effect. After assessing his other priorities, he learnt to schedule what was non-urgent and build in time for the thinking, planning, reviewing and strategising. He experimented with various times of the day for these activities and aligned them to either his of the business needs.

At the same time, he became an even more highly attuned observer of other people and in particular his new boss. Using his reflection time, scheduled per day, to assess what else had he learnt about the situation or person he strengthened his interpersonal skills and effectiveness. In establishing a routine and providing adequate time to quieten the mind and body he also discovered a marked increase in his resilience and greater control over his stress levels. He was no longer reacting to events or people, but became curious to seek the learning and opportunity for further growth.

He learnt the art of asking powerful questions in a curious and openly interested tone of voice; elicited greater insights and thinking than before. This subtle shift in attitude and behaviour created a more positive, upbeat and energetic interactions with his boss.

By adopting a new approach to a perceived challenge, the MD won. He crafted a close and mutually respectful relationship with his new boss; who in turn learnt to fully utilise the MD’s strengths as ways to mitigate his own weaknesses. Over time the shift in the MD’s attitude and behaviours reportedly rubbed off on the new boss whose reputation improved as he adopted a more informed people-oriented approach to the business.