In my last posted blog, I wrote about control and how it can derail an executive from growing his or her business. In this blog, I would like to offer a case in which the coaching client successfully shifted from a controlling style of leadership to a leader who was able to give up control in order to grow his company.
Tony is the CEO of a successful medical manufacturing company. In the early years, his company grew at 5 percent per year, and he was able to finance this organic growth with retained earnings. Expenses went to new equipment and hiring hourly workers when needed. His management team was able to maintain this modest growth, although they were limited in experience and skills.
The business had some seasonality, with the first quarter generally slow. The reality of losing money in the first quarter irritated Tony, and he often lashed out at his management team for not doing better. There was a great deal of fear in the executive ranks, fueled by emotional outbursts and threats. Tony was a micromanager and intimidating toward team members.
Changes in the marketplace created increased demand for the company’s products,and sales grew at a rate of 20 percent. In his coaching sessions, Tony admitted that several members of his management team were not able to keep up with this growth. Faced with this challenge, Tony agreed to upgrade his team in order to bring in more competence and leadership strength. He also realized that his controlling style of leadership would not sit well with the newly hired executives who had their own ideas on how to run their departments. Once he had chosen to support a more complex, faster-growing company, he knew he needed to change his leadership style.
So how was Tony able to change his leadership style?
He surely would have rejected a direct approach to change his leadership style. Why tamper with success? Instead, his coach helped him recognize the gap between his slow growth strategy and the level of complexity and skills necessary for a faster growth strategy. Once realized, he came to this own conclusion that he needed to hire more qualified executives and he needed to allow them to run their departments without his interference. Although he adjusted his style, he was not comfortable with this change until he began to see positive results. Success gave him confidence to continue to yield control. First quarter sales and deliveries improved, which helped him to ease his concerns. Coaching helped him to learn how to hold his executive team accountable without micromanaging them. Tony agreed to have monthly coaching sessions to assess progress and goal attainment, and to make sure that his executive team members had the resources they needed to succeed. He also facilitated weekly team meetings to encourage his executives to work more closely together.
Today, this executive who just 5 years ago led by intimidation and close control over every aspect of his business has shifted to a management style characterized by allowing his top executives more autonomy and adopting the leadership role of a coach. He is more relaxed and enjoying his business again. The business continues to grow in sales and profits.