An established mid-market company had recently hired a new SVP level senior leader. She was in a critical, people-intensive, position for the organization in which over a third of the organization reported up into this leader. She was hired for her expertise and experience in an area the business needed depth in to execute on its strategic plan.
Even talented senior leaders can derail in their career and need help to get back on track. Partnering with an executive coach can create that path forward.
Six months into her leadership the organization was impressed with what she brought to the organization but concerned when they began to experience turnover among valuable employees who found her too demanding as a boss and her style aloof and abrasive at times.
At Perceptive, we find that many talented leaders derail in their careers when they have not developed the inter-related capabilities of forging relationships and building a team.
Perceptive was engaged to be an Executive Coach for this talented senior leader over the course of the next year.
Executive Coaching for SVP Leader
As in all our executive coaching engagements, we begin by establishing a working relationship with the leader. While she was initially apprehensive about coaching, she soon embraced the coaching process and dove in seeing it as an opportunity to become a stronger leader. She embraced a learning mindset, and this would serve her well in her development as a leader.
We conducted an extensive interview-based 360-dgreee feedback process to support the leader in understanding how others experienced her. The focus of the interviews was to understand key stakeholder perceptions of the role (which was new to the organization), how she was perceived in the role, her leadership strengths, and areas for increased leadership effectiveness.
The feedback revealed that the leader was viewed as an incredible asset to the organization because of the knowledge she brought to her role. They respected her leadership in this regard. However, her leadership style, described as relentless in its drive for results, came at a cost. Her peers and direct reports alike found it increasingly difficult to work with her.
Her team was experiencing burnout, and several had already left the organization or were planning to. She had not placed a high enough value on developing relationships with key stakeholders and many of her peer and direct report relationships were strained as a result.
Leadership Development Action Plan
We reviewed the results of the 360-degree feedback with this leader and discussed how her style was limiting her ability to be successful. While the feedback was difficult to hear, she embraced the learning process and set out to work on the areas identified in her feedback. Selected areas of focus were identified for the coaching, including learning to develop greater emotional intelligence (EQ) in addition to her well-developed intellectual intelligence.
We created a Leadership Development Action Plan that contained practices to help her build leadership capabilities in new areas. This gave her the focused plan that she needed to build her muscle in these developmental areas and gain renewed confidence along the way.
Creating a more balanced personal and professional life
Another critical area of focus was helping the leader create better work/life balance. She worked incredibly hard and derived a lot of satisfaction from her work. However, the intensity of her pace was not sustainable for her, her team, or the larger organization. She was experiencing burnout, and this was negatively affecting her ability to bring her best to her work.
Over the next year, she put the practices in her development plan into action. She worked hard to repair strained relationships, forge new ones, and be a more emotionally intelligent leader for her team. While focusing on relationships did not come easily to her at first, she came to enjoy it and saw the benefits of investing time here.
Successful leaders learn how their behaviors influence results and over time how to integrate new ways of leading for greater success.
In parallel, she began to place more emphasis on her life outside of work and was developing a more balanced perspective on her personal and professional life.
The leader made great strides in achieving a better and more sustainable balance between her professional and personal life. There was a palpable shift in her demeanor, and this translated into her being more approachable to people. She was noticeably less stressed and prone to being in-the-grip of strong emotions that didn’t bring out the best in her as a leader.
A follow on 360 was conducted with key stakeholders who had participated in the original 360. Several commented that they commended her for being receptive to their feedback and commented on the changes that she made in how she collaborated with them. She had established a healthier climate within her organization and improved direct report and peer relationships. Turnover on her team ceased to be an issue.
Note: To honor the confidentiality and protect the privacy of our clients we do not use names and have altered possibly identifying details in this Case Study.
About Perceptive Leaders LLC
Perceptive is a boutique leadership development and professional transitions consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado serving clients in the US and Canada, since 2005. We have worked with over 1,000 senior organizational leaders and accomplished career professionals to help them recognize opportunities for impactful and substantive change and how to realize that transformational change. For more than 15 years, Perceptive has been helping leaders and their teams transform their leadership. For more information, visit perceptiveleaders.com.
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