CLIENT: Telecoms company
THEMES: International Assignments, Career Development
AUDIENCE: Executive Level Leaders
LOCATION: UK, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia, Czech Republic
The organisation is an established telecoms business with over 130,000 employees operating in UK, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia and Czech Republic, and operates graduate programmes across these territories along with a Graduate Academy based in Barcelona. The parent group is established in 24 countries.
The Project Context
A range of coaching providers had previously been contracted across the region, with a low level of co-ordination resulting in limited information being available to our client regarding the coaching being provided (eg types of coaching, goals and alignment with corporate objectives, sessions per assignment, costs) and no clear picture of business impact and personal development outcomes.
To begin to rationalise provision and create an enhanced professional offering, the organisation therefore decided to source an external coaching supplier for 250 Executive Level leaders. We developed two optional packages as a framework for Executive Coaching delivery, which including detailed management information and follow-up reporting.
Two strands of coaching were delivered through the programme:
- Career coaching, exploring coachees’ personal values and individual development interests and providing opportunities to focus on their own development; this was delivered using a workbook for self-reflective activities, followed by a series of coaching sessions
- Coaching to support international assignments: graduates within the organisation are given opportunities to work in other countries, and we provided coaching sessions to enable them to explore their development aims and goals and maximise the opportunities to realise them in relation to the assignment.
The Executive Coaching package includes use of MBTI® and FIRO-B®, alongside a bespoke 360 degree feedback instrument, and use of our unique follow-through technology to support coaches in embedding new behaviours in their daily working.
CLIENT: Engineering Project Management
PROJECT: Aligning the Vision
THEMES: Leadership Transitions
AUDIENCE: The Board
A division of a £3bn engineering, project management and consultancy group.
The Project Context
Our client, who’d joined the organisation only eighteen months earlier, was vice-president of Engineering in one of the group’s divisions. His role was to raise the division’s competence and creativity. Reporting to the divisional president, he had four peers holding P&L responsibility, and had been finding it hard to influence them, his boss and colleagues at group level. His boss described him as “too deferential towards peers and unwilling to confront others constructively.” He also felt the client had an indistinct image at group level, meaning they were largely unaware of him, limiting his potential for promotion.
The client set two coaching goals for himself:
- Becoming more influential and assertive, both sideways and upwards, to show the self-assurance to work at a more senior level. Success was defined as:
- – no longer feeling frustrated about the difficulty of inserting himself into key events, but feeling able to do so
- – consistently confronting and asserting himself skilfully with peers, with recognition of this from his peers
- – being pencilled in as most likely successor as Executive VP, Global Engineering
- Creating a distinctive agenda that would add value to the business, and demonstrating progress towards it as evidence by:
- – a coherent and consistent written agenda, stating his intent, choices, actions and timings
- – requests from other divisional Presidents for his input (requiring him to have previously publicised his agenda)
- – improved project execution, documented in the written agenda and recognised by internal customers.
We delivered fifteen months of confidential one-to-one executive coaching, with meetings taking place on a monthly basis.
Evaluation and Results
The client, his divisional President and his HR Vice-President gave feedback at the beginning, mid-point and end. The President and The HR Chief reported the client as being much more assertive with his peers and those above his level. The client’s proposed distinctive agenda was recognised not only by his peers, but also by the group’s Chief Operating Officer. The client was promoted to Executive Vice-President, Global Engineering shortly before the end of the coaching assignment.
“I liked my job and I know an opportunity to step up to a group role would arise, but I was dissatisfied with my progress and with a surrounding resistance to change that I couldn’t see a way around. On goal #1, I’ve been (seen to be) consistently asserting myself, I’m no longer frustrated about inserting myself into key events, and I am the successor! 10/10. On goal #2, I’ve used my agenda with the Group COO, his direct reports are opening their doors to me and accepting me, and I improved engineering project execution last year. I give myself 8/10. I’ve learnt greater self-awareness and self-control, I no longer feel like a victim of circumstances, and my self-confidence has deepened.”
CLIENT: Luxury Car Manufacturer
PROJECT: Aligning the Vision
THEMES: Board Coaching
AUDIENCE: The Board
A well-known brand, recognised and respected for its quality product, our client recognised that, even for luxury cars, competition in the market was increasing. Substantial investment into the organisation had seen the workforce rise from c.1,500 to 4,000 alongside the initiation of a new set of corporate goals that would propel the organisation ahead of its competitors.
The company had already acknowledged that it needed to smooth its profit growth by the timed introduction of other cars to fulfil the gaps between product-family launches. To create a more sustainable business, greater efficiency in bringing new products to market was needed. The growth of new markets, especially China, also urged close attention to customer satisfaction; reliance on brand recognising would not be sufficient.
The Project Context
During a time of significant change – including the appointment of a CEO from Group level who was new to the business, a re-organisation of the Board and the initiation of stretching business goals – cohesion within the Board was essential. Nervousness was growing within the business that the capability did not exist within the leadership cadre to implement the desired changes, and that the Board would not be sufficiently equipped or united to create the right momentum.
We were asked to work with the Board to help them support each other in working effectively together, and creating clarity around their personal, collective and business goals so that they could skilfully support the teams that reported to them. Our coach worked with individual Board members and with the whole team to establish the challenges that they faced, and to give them the space to explore and agree their priorities before putting in place short- and long-term goals. The team used the coach to focus on:
- creating a cohesive team
- exploring interpersonal styles to raise self-awareness and awareness of others in order to improve communication, trust, understanding and openness
- establishing communication strategies for their teams by creating a unified message that they would share across the business
Following successful one-to-one and team based coaching with the Board, each Board Member worked with us to put together a joined-up series of meetings and supportive conversations with their direct teams. The focus for these sessions came as a direct result of the Board coaching, and they were aimed at establishing the expectations for change within the leadership teams that would support the transition.
CLIENT: Construction Materials Company
PROJECT: Creating a High Performance Leadership Group
THEMES: Executive Coaching
AUDIENCE: Executive Team/Senior Leadership Group
A 1500 strong construction supplies business with six UK locations, and a subsidiary of a 225,000-strong global conglomerate, our client held a Leadership Conference to communicate business strategy and identify ways to overcome barriers to its achievement.
As a result, a methodology for co-ordinating the actions designed to achieve this vision was introduced to the Leadership Group, and subsequently honed and driven through a series of events over the next two years. As part of the roll-out, two key areas were identified in terms of Leadership Group behaviours:
- Silo Mentality – many leaders were focused too strongly on their immediate team and responsibilities, paying insufficient attention to their wider organisational leadership role. Narrowly focused reward mechanisms re-enforced this behaviour
- Leadership Style – too great an emphasis was being placed on a ‘command and control’ style at the expense of engagement, communication and coaching
We provided two integrated solutions. Firstly, we worked closely with the client to establish Coaching Networks, set up across geographical and functional lines to work on the required behaviours and skills. Beginning with the Executive Team, this approach was cascaded out to the rest of the forty-strong Leadership Group.
Quarterly one-day Coaching Network events, combining input from an ASK® facilitator with an Action Learning Set approach to working on key organisational issues and projects, were structured on the following basis:
- working with individual and collective agendas on the issues raised by Leadership
- input sessions and practical exercises from a topic menu including: coaching, high performing teams, influencing, leadership and performance management
- using psychometrics and 360 degree feedback to generate momentum behind self-awareness in the context of working together in these groups/teams
The HR Director and ASK® Account Director annually agreed key themes and messages for the groups, which then prioritised their time to achieve improved performance.
Secondly, where additional individual Executive Coaching was seen to be required, we provided independent coaches for the following audiences:
- Board appointees, to provide support members of the Leadership Group in their transition to the Executive Team
- existing Board members who were technically very capable without being fully effective in leading others
- identified key talents in the Leadership Group who wished to implement their career development plan
- external Leadership Group recruits to help them to adapt to a new culture and maximise their impact
- members of the Leadership Group with functional roles seeking to enhance and extend their influence
Annual Employee Survey results were used to focus the Coaching Networks on particular areas. The following year’s survey showed strong improvements across the board, particularly in Overall Satisfaction and Customer Focus, despite workforce reductions.
Participant ratings (on a scale of 0 – 5) from the coaching cohorts clearly showed that, in their opinions, the events ‘clarified my role as a leader in actively re-enforcing the right behaviours for delivery of higher performance of across the business’ (4.5) and ‘helped me to be aware of my influence and impact on others as a leader’ (4.3).
“I really enjoyed role-playing on coaching styles and then discussing real life issues to help others.”
“This one day event took us from complete confusion to clarity over the mentor role.”
“Good focus and open atmosphere.”
CLIENT: Global E-Commerce Platform
PROJECT: Global Leadership Coaching
THEMES: Inclusive Leadership
LOCATION: Europe, USA, Australia
With 149 million active buyers globally and over 700 million listed items, our client is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, enabling 20% of global e-commerce activity. Founded in 1995 and employing c.30,000 people worldwide on all continents, it connects a diverse and passionate community of individual buyers and sellers, including a growing number of businesses both large and small. The organisation has three business units, supporting online buying and selling, digital payment processing, and commerce, retailing and digital marketing for merchants.
In an organisation where managers operate in a matrix-based and virtual working environment, leadership challenges are highly differentiated. Our client was seeking a provider with a global network of high quality coaches who would be able to offer a consistent resource to support leaders across all areas of the business in being adaptive and agile.
We agreed an overarching coaching framework, informed and inspired by our business-focused approach to coaching support. Before contracting each coaching relationship, the participant has a conversation with their line manager and L&D representative to agree their coaching need and focus, and the nature of the support they require. The participant also works with L&D to engage with their line manager and define the ongoing support they will need after each coaching contract to ensure transfer of learning back into the workplace.
The coaching content has varied considerably between individual clients, depending on their personal development requirements and the business and cultural context of their roles, but has included:
- Leadership styles
- Influence and Personal Impact
- Transitions, especially where leaders need support in enhancing their ability to flex their style to have impact across a variety of cultures.
In some cases, there has also been a mentoring element to the coaching relationship, reflecting our ability to provide a suitable quality of coach/mentor with a willingness and ability to offer positive challenge.
“I got loads of value out of this – I have made strives forward that I would not have made without our coaching sessions.”
“We continue to work on the goals set up front, and focus on applying learnings moving forward!”