If you want a job doing well, do it yourself. A motto once lauded by the subject of this case profile – and to great effect. But what got him to where he was in his career simply wasn’t going to get him any further. To be effective at that level he needed to engage in some executive coaching, to help him to listen more, let go of the reins and allow others to drive.
My client* is a Supply Chain Executive for a world-famous brand, employing 55,000 people across 50 countries. His executive coaching programme began shortly after he’d been promoted into a more senior role with a broader spectrum of accountability, meaning he would no longer be able do everything without running himself into the ground. To protect his well-being and maintain his effectiveness, a transformation of working style was needed – from managing to leading; exclusive to inclusive.
*The sensitive nature of my work precludes me from giving specific detail about individuals or businesses.
The coaching theme
As a manager, my client had been very structured, data-driven and driving. He talked more than he listened. He was inclined to simply ‘tell’ rather than invite input. A tendency to get wrapped up in detail meant he could be very prescriptive and set in his outlook. He didn’t allow much room for individuals to use their own initiative or present directly to seniors. In order to handle the demands of his new role and maintain a good work-life balance, this client needed to step right back. The question was ‘how do you break established working habits?’
What we did
The Achilles heel of many high-level business people is the need to be ‘in control’; so while my coaching strategy was (as always) tailored to this particular client, some themes were universal. By increasing his self-awareness of his current habits and their results, we were able to challenge certain behaviours and ways of thinking. This helped him open up to new ways of doing things. Importantly he relaxed. He experimented with being less formal and found this was helpful. And he opened up to others’ ideas (even the crazy ones!). From there, we examined ways of encouraging team dialogue, giving others the opportunity and space to do the thinking for themselves and to take the initiative. Team members were now able to take ownership of certain problems and solutions.
Over the course of 6 sessions over 6 months, I saw this client transform before my eyes. He really bought into the value of listening, adapting his style and asking for input from others. He was delighted with what people were capable of and the ideas they came up with when given the space. And he’s received fantastic feedback from both peers and management as a result. He delegates where necessary, and is more open and relaxed about outcomes. Work in progress is no longer ‘incomplete’, but ‘in-hand’. This more effective, hands-off leadership style has benefitted the whole team, as well as the client personally. He continues to work in a healthy, sustainable way and is no longer burdened by what he termed “the myopia of the decimal point”. He is now free to operate intuitively and empower his team to make best use of their unique offerings.
“Since Rachael’s coaching, I now pause when I feel under pressure. I feel confident enough to set the direction, but defer to my team for the detail – solutions and approach. Rachael has equipped me with the confidence I needed to ‘lead’ more and ‘do’ less. I found her personable, approachable and trustworthy, with a great balance between listening and coaching. She was very open about outcomes and flexed the coaching to work on other related issues, which made me feel at ease from the start. Clearly an expert in her field.”
8 months on….. most of the ideas from the executive coaching are now second-nature to my client and are making a really positive difference in the business. Moreover, there have been further organic improvements on the original coaching themes and other significant leadership areas. The process now has its own life. My client reflected on his experience since the commencement of coaching as “a massive journey – a revelation – transformational.”
Tall Spaghetti is based in Sheffield, so is particularly well-placed to deliver executive coaching in Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and other nearby locations. However, Tall Spaghetti works on a national basis too.