Establishing team leadership through a period of change

A global beverage company was undergoing a massive re-organization in Europe and as part of that Pedro was promoted to Managing Director of a European market from the previous rank of Marketing Director. The change was enormous as he was replacing a longstanding leader, who had been controversial and charismatic, imposing and endearing. Pedro was young, bright and ready for the change, but also open to receiving help and support from a coach. Jane was brought in by the Regional HR Director, based on her knowledge of the sector, of the company, and indeed of some of the personalities involved. Her role was defined as Organizational Development Advisor and Coach to Pedro.

The change in every aspect of doing business was so enormous that Jane wisely focused initially on environment, allowing every party in the management team to get to know each other, to define and understand each other’s style, in order to maximize respect and collaboration early on.

Pedro’s challenge was sizable, and consisted of a need to establish his own credibility with the Regional Executive Committee (all of whom apart from him were based in another country), a desire to manage successfully his local Leadership team, and the challenge of appropriate resource allocation, so as to achieve the ambitious end of year results that were expected.

The time that Jane spent early on in the project, working on the general strategy of the reorganization allowed her to come to the coaching with more information and observation than would usually be the case at the outset of a coaching engagement, and this proved to be endlessly useful to Pedro. His youth was of concern to him – would he manage to deal with the change? Would he be able to fill the shoes of the previous MD? Would he find the appropriate way to manage the new distances involved in having become the boss of former peers?

An intelligent and sensitive partnership evolved between Pedro and Jane, whereby she challenged him with questions about his former style and approach, and nudged him gently but insistently to adapt to his new environment, particularly with regard to paying attention to the needs and reactions of others around him.

Given Jane’s approach of helping Pedro to understand his context, it was logical that she be invited to the Executive Meetings. She was able to observe the values, attitudes and behaviours of every member, and to offer up her insights to Pedro for evaluation and consideration. Pedro welcomed this strategy, and learnt very rapidly how to manage his new environment, which included many “bruised” members of the old team. Jane was key in running Leadership Team development sessions as part of her engagement, and the result was a clearly improved attitude to common goals and behaviors.

On an external front, Pedro was the “face” of the company’s new commercial and marketing strategies, which had not been greeted with unanimous enthusiasm by the local customers. Jane encouraged Pedro to experiment with both personal intervention and delegation in this context, such that he and his team were able to work coherently and cohesively to deliver the year end figures that all had hoped for!

Pedro has gone on to greater success again, both inside company and beyond. He describes Jane’s work in the following way:

Compared to other coaches, Jane is very independent.  This means I can feel confident she is genuine, and that I can use her view and perspective as I wish.  She is always objective, asking the right question at the right time, with surgical precision.  I grew a lot as a leader, because Jane pushed and challenged me to explore the boundaries of my leadership, to find what kind of leader I wanted to be.  It was the creation of the “backbone” of what I am today as a General Manager.  I am very grateful and would use her again without hesitation.