Simon was the branch director of a group of 45 London branches of a major retail financial services organisation. He had previously successfully managed a smaller group of 30 branches in the South East and this had led to his recent promotion.
Since Simon’s appointment, a major restructuring programme had been announced, leading to the closure of five of his branches and others being downgraded to minor outlets. In addition, there was to be a major refurbishment of the flagship brand. These changes were causing friction among his staff.
Simon was enthusiastic and highly ambitious, and his high-energy style had always served him well in the past. He came across as naturally self-confident. However, he confided in his mentor that he was starting to lack confidence in his ability to tackle these new challenges. It was agreed that he should have a number of sessions with a change coach to support him in his new role.
At the initial meeting between Simon, his mentor and the change coach it was established that the two areas to be explored were his leadership style and his change management skills. Using a behavioural contract, two of his outcomes were stated as “To identify my leadership style together with the associated strengths and weaknesses”, and “To identify my thinking style, its strengths and weaknesses and develop the thinking skills required to enhance personal performance.”
Simon completed a managerial style questionnaire and sought 360-degree feedback from his senior team. The results highlighted the fact that while Simon perceived his style to be fairly inclusive and democratic, his new team saw him as highly directive and having little tolerance for under-performance. Although this style had worked for him in the past, Simon needed a more collaborative approach with his new and more experienced management team.
Simon had received minimal training in the skills required to effectively lead change. His coach recommended a reading list for him to work through in his own time. In combining his desire to develop a more inclusive leadership style with his increasing knowledge of effective change management, he worked with his coach to develop a strategy for the restructuring programme. This included identifying a core team from across his group who would guide and inform the process. The team was responsible for identifying a vision for the newly structured group, communicating this in their teams, and feeding back best practice and obstacles.
CBC was used to underpin all of the above by helping Simon consider his beliefs about people, their actions, his expectations of self and of others, and the reasons for these. Simon discovered that one of his life rules about other people that drove him in his day-to-day work was ‘if I am the boss then you should do things my way’. He realised that this left little scope for others to bring their own unique contributions to the team, leading to frustration.
Simon was still reluctant to step back from chairing the core teams meetings as he felt that would make him appear weak (‘If I am a leader then I must be seen to be taking the lead otherwise people will think I am ineffective’). So using the skills and techniques of CBC, he was able to develop a different mental picture of an effective leader. Through coaching, he was able to reframe that belief to one that acknowledged that through empowering and trusting his team he could provide far greater leadership.
After eight coaching sessions, it was agreed to review progress with his mentor.
His new-found knowledge in change had given him the understanding and confidence he needed to complete the restructure programme. An additional 360-feedback session reflected the increased respect and belief in Simon from his senior team.
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