Driving Cultural Change to Drive Business Results

A global retailer was facing increased competition and was fighting to maintain and grow its market share.  The senior team realized they needed to fundamentally restructure the relationship between the corporate leadership and the store personnel.  Their goal was to empower the people who were closest to the customers, so that their change initiatives were clearly linked to customers’ needs and wants.  

Developing Interpersonal Finesse

Dan (not his real name), an Executive Vice President in a professional services firm, was under consideration for promotion to President of the company. As a leader of one of the firm’s largest territories, he had been highly successful in increasing revenues and growing his team. He had a reputation as a tough, aggressive, competitive leader who knew how to get the job done. In order to move from a regional to an enterprise-wide leadership role, Dan needed to build strong strategic relationships with peers across the company. This required him to modify his leadership style, emphasizing collaborative skills and softening his competitive style.

Developing High Potential Leaders

The senior leaders of a major financial services institution wanted to ensure that the next generation of leaders was adequately prepared to step into senior leadership roles.  They knew that it is usually more economical and effective for companies to grow their internal talent rather than compete for top talent from the external market.  Each senior leader had identified high potential talent within his or her division of the company, and a psychological assessment company had provided profiles of each of the identified high potential leaders.  The senior team wanted to provide a targeted, challenging leadership development program to accelerate the growth of the identified cohort.  

A Faltering Executive

An executive in a financial services organization was experiencing conflict with her peers, who saw her as arrogant and domineering. They perceived her as over-stepping her authority and felt she was willing to step on others to further her own career. They experienced her interpersonal style as rude, abrasive, and condescending. Others felt she did not listen to their point of view and took credit for their work. Her manager was tired of people coming into his office to complain about her. The company leaders wanted to retain her because of her technical expertise and business acumen. However, they were considering terminating her because of the negativity she aroused.

Executive Presence

A talented young director in a large, global packaged goods company had been selected to participate in the company’s high-potential leadership development program. The first step in the program was an initial assessment with a consultant from Gail Golden Consulting. In the interview, it was clear that the director exhibited many leadership strengths, including high intelligence, strong analytic abilities, and a drive for execution. However, her interpersonal impact led others to underestimate her leadership abilities. Her dress was very casual, her posture and eye contact did not convey confidence, and her voice was quiet and lacked enthusiasm.

Improving the Relationship between the CEO and the Board in a Non-Profit Company

The Board of Directors of a large, national non-profit organization was dissatisfied with the performance of the CEO. Two years earlier, the Board had determined that the rapid growth of the organization required a CEO who could demonstrate a new skill set that was beyond the capabilities of the then CEO. They elevated their COO to CEO and the former CEO became a Board member.

The new CEO demonstrated strong leadership in a number of areas. Not surprisingly, he was a highly effective operational leader, as well as an effective external voice for the organization. However, the Board found him to be overly timid, lacking initiative, and weak in his strategic thinking. They were concerned that he did not have the vision and forcefulness to take the organization to the next stage of its development.

Increasing Leadership Effectiveness in a Regional Office

A regional office of a national financial services company was experiencing a leadership crisis. The productivity and the profitability of the office were not meeting goal. Complaints about the two leaders’ interpersonal style and the office culture had reached the level that the CEO and the VP of HR were concerned about legal exposure. It was critical that the company’s corporate leaders demonstrate their responsiveness to the concerns they were hearing. If the office could not become more financially profitable and less tumultuous, the company was considering shutting it down.

Screening for Super Sales Professionals

A large mid-market retail company was initiating a new program to sell luxury products and services to high-end customers.  In order to rapidly ramp up their program, they needed to hire a large cadre of highly motived sales people with a history of success in relationship-based selling to high-end customers – a different kind of salesperson from those who were already working in their stores.

The company leaders were relying on the new initiative to bolster the company’s bottom line.  They wanted the program to be a success right from the start.  Initial branding was critical to the growth of the program, and they could not afford any mis-hires on the sales team.

Clarifying Leadership Roles in a High-Growth Tech Company

J Group was a rapidly growing web development and digital consulting firm.  As their success grew and their staff expanded to fifty employees, the leadership team had brought in new people into new roles.  In addition, the roles of some of the long-term leaders had evolved.  This had created some confusion for both new employees and longer-term staff around roles, deliverables, and how the new people added value.  In particular, there was some tension between the developers and the new leaders who brought expertise in areas like marketing and project management.

The continued success and growth of the firm depended on creating clarity and structure for these new roles.  In addition, J Group was a company which placed great emphasis on company culture and employee engagement, so it was critically important to build alignment across the firm.

Strategic Planning with a Small Tech Company

E Group was a fast-growing company which anticipated continued increasing demand for its product.  Sales had increased by 400% in 2011 and the company’s full production for 2012 was already sold out by September.  However, in past years the market had been very volatile, which made predicting the future difficult and uncertain.  The owners had concerns that some predictions were “too good to be true.”   They had invested a significant portion of their personal financial assets in the company; they wanted to protect their investment and to maintain sufficient personal resources to meet their family’s needs.  Key issues included:

  • How should the company expand?
  • How can production be made more efficient to keep up with demand?
  • What kind of outside investment should be sought?
  • How and when can the company pay the owners back?

Selecting a New CMO

An international consumer goods company was selecting a new Chief Marketing Officer.  Their search process had identified a number of highly qualified candidates.  The CEO and other senior executives met with the candidates and selected one who seemed to them to be an excellent fit.  They were pleased to have found this leader and were ready to hire him, but they decided to include a psychological assessment in the selection process as a final data point to help them make their decision.

Integrating a New EVP

A financial services company had recruited a new EVP from outside the company.  He had extensive industry experience and had impressed everyone involved in the recruiting process.  The CEO expected him to ramp up quickly and to lead his division to rapid growth through innovation and superb execution.

Although the new EVP was already a seasoned leader, the CEO had some concerns about helping him to integrate successfully.  He was transferring from a different part of the United States, so he needed to learn the cultural norms of his new community as well as the company’s culture.  The team he would be leading was composed of very senior, long-term employees of the company, one of whom had applied for the EVP job.  Economic indicators suggested that the company was entering a time of challenge and uncertainty.  The CEO knew the EVP’s integration could be accelerated with the help of a structured program of new leader integration, and that integration is not just a 90-day process, but takes a full year.

Selling Professional Services

Metropolitan Client Services*, a small financial services firm, was struggling with business development.  The partners in the firm were highly competent, responsive professionals who offered top-quality expertise to their clients.  However, none of the partners was either skilled at or interested in developing new business.  When the economy was strong, this was not a big problem.  The firm’s reputation was well-known and clients came to them.  But once the recession hit, revenues dropped dramatically.  The partners knew they needed to increase their business development activities, but were very unsure how to proceed.

At that juncture, they were approached by another financial services professional, William*, who had built his own firm.  He was a business development go-getter and he wanted to partner with Metropolitan.  He had a different business model that he believed would drive higher revenues for the firm.  His proposal was that Metropolitan buy his firm and bring him in to focus on sales.

The partners were interested but cautious.  They had experimented with sales people in the past, with little success.  Their culture was important to them, and they were not sure William’s business approach was a good match for them.  They didn’t want to turn down a good opportunity, but they wanted to be sure that bringing William in would be a good investment.