The ask from the client
This summer we were invited to support a regional team of general managers in developing their leadership effectiveness, specifically, supporting them in adopting and embodying the principles of a leadership framework adopted by the company.
With this aim in mind, we set about drafting a series of workshops for the leadership team, specifically aimed at:
1. building a renewed sense of alignment and commitment to the team from the different members, through the specific review/definition of their team purpose, and a set of exercises aimed at building trust and fostering non-violent communication, and
2. developing their leadership potential through a series of self-reflections and dialogues, aimed at truly laying bare the inner dynamics of the team and the role that each person plays within it. We could then build upon that by addressing how to tap into the potential.
Little did we know that the internal transformation taking place with our client would directly impact this team and change their immediate priorities! We had to show flexibility and respond by directly addressing the business uncertainty faced by the general managers. We achieved this by engaging with them in the re-definition of what was most needed, which then led us to offering a tailor-made set of individual coaching sessions, and a workshop to directly tackle the ‘elephant in the room’ within the group. That is, the well-known – yet never addressed – challenge of the different ‘weight’ held by each manager on the team, based upon the financial weight of the countries they are responsible for.
Impact and key learnings
By showing our flexibility, we could gain trust from the group of general managers and actively engage them in the definition of their needs and the next steps. During the individual coaching sessions, we could start working with the general managers on their key challenges, but we did so by considering their lives as a whole, gaining first perspective on what they valued and what mattered to them, in general, to then later dive into the specific topics that they brought forward. This enabled us to create a safe space and a relationship based upon trust, thanks to which our clients could access new perspectives on how to tackle their challenges, and a renewed clarity and commitment to pursue their goals.
Finally, we could see confirmation of the fact that what makes a team effective does not depend on the specific cultural setting or local customs, but is rather grounded in a deep commitment on the part of each participant. To put the interest of the group first by embracing vulnerability and healthy debate.