Coaching brief

I was asked to coach the UK Managing Director of a US Private Bank with a global presence and an ambitious strategy for growth outside of the USA. The MD, who was an American, was tasked to significantly grow the business in Europe, improve the opportunities for increasing revenue from existing customers and start a new brokerage trading department. The MD was identified as a potential future Partner but feedback suggested he needed to alter his leadership style away from command and control to a more collaborative style.

I met initially with the SVP of Human Resources Europe and the MD’s managing Partner to discuss the changes the business would like to see in the MD. We then met with the MD to ascertain his view of his personal and professional development needs. A three-way teleconference was set up to agree the coaching agenda, outcomes required and the overall coaching contract, including reporting and confidentiality.

Coaching approach

A programme of six two hour face to face coaching sessions was agreed to be run over a period of five months with a mid point and exit review meeting. I also offered telephone and email support to the MD between coaching sessions.

Outcomes required

Key outcomes identified included;

  • Improved relationship with the managing Partner
  • A clear strategy and rigorous plans for growth of the European business
  • Clearer, more focused communication
  • Improved networking and key stakeholder management
  • Evidence of a shift to a more collaborative style of leadership
  • Increased self awareness; ability to embrace the cultural differences between the US and UK

Evaluation

Evaluation of the success of the coaching was to be a combination of quantitative measures based on improved KPIs for employee engagement scores, achievement of growth targets and improved networking within the business.

Further measures were qualitative – feedback from his Managing Partner about improvements in communication, changes in his leadership style and evidence of a more structured and reflective approach.

The coaching process

The coaching was a challenge from the start as the MD wanted to develop the detail of the coaching plan at arms length and to issue this to me so we could ‘get on with’ delivering the outcomes. I coach my feeling response to this process – quite divorced and disengaged from the process – to reflect with the MD how this style of working (an example of command and control) might impact his employees. The MD took the opportunity to reflect on his preferred leadership style and began to understand that his anxiety to deliver results drove this behaviour.

He then explored how he could approach things differently without failing to deliver agreed targets. We then developed the coaching plan together and used this experience to help the MD understand that this approach could help his employees feel more engaged with any plans, take more ownership and be more accountable for their delivery. The MD decided to run an away day workshop with his senior teams to develop their strategic and operational plans.

The MD developed sales and growth plans with his colleagues for the key regions in Europe, each with a nominated senior manager owner. This collaborative approach produced robust plans which were structured for the first time, meant that employees were fully engaged with and committed to delivering them. The plans we communicated to the wider business including key stakeholders.

The coachee and his senior leadership team, with my support, developed a communication strategy to promote the UK business both within and outside of the organisation. This plan included tactical and strategic marketing initiatives, key account management processes and sales management information which had previously been lacking. The MD and his team decided what and how this information would be communicated to the key stakeholders in the Bank.

Of particular significance was the cultural awareness piece. The MD was considered abrasive by his UK colleagues – especially in his choice of language – and was perceived to be highly critical in his management style. I introduced him to the Situational Leadership™ model so he could flex his style to get the best from his people. The coaching helped the MD appreciate the fundamental differences in communication style between the US and UK/European and to temper his style and language to suit a wider audience.

Achievements

The coaching was evaluated by the coachee and his managing Partner at the exit review meeting to have been successful. Outcomes were met although the coachee was aware that he had made changes he would need to maintain after the coaching had ended. Achievements included:

  • A clear strategy for growth in Europe with supporting operational, resource, marketing and sales plans
  • Better and more focused communication with the wider business
  • A higher profile within the Bank, especially at Partner level
  • Clear evidence of how the MD was working more collaboratively with his team; delegating and engaging his employees more effectively
  • Succession plans and more insight in to potential talent
  • Improved relationships with his UK and European colleagues and a better relationship with his boss

Return on Investment

Return on investment from the coaching is still being evaluated. However some clear gains from the coaching are:

  • A more engaged, happier UK workforce
  • The potential to achieve growth targets even in challenging market conditions
  • Robust plans and processes for sales and key account management
  • An improved likelihood of the MD achieving Partner status
  • A leader with increased self and cultural awareness and more choice about how he leads the business.