"Kristi encouraged me to take the DiSC assessment and helped me to evaluate the findings. I was so struck by her enthusiasm and encouragement that I immediately recommended her to many colleagues. Kristi has become a source of inspiration for me, passing along thoughtful articles and tidbits of advice that are perfectly suited for my role and aspirations. Kristi is passionate, driven and thoughtful in her approach and I would highly recommend her services."

Kristen Heryford, Professional Development Coordinator
Fenwick & West

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Coaching Good People to Excellence?

(posted: November 30th, 2010)

As many companies know, preparing executives for senior leadership roles requires more than verifying their intelligence and experience.

"If a person has the talent and drive to be a great leader, but lacks the skills to manage people, the move is doomed."

All Grown Up (almost)

A Case in Point

A very large company was in need of some one-on-one training for one of its best performers to develop her into an effective leader. The executive was smart, well-educated, and supremely talented. She also completed her assignments and hit every goal placed before her.

So what was the problem with this dream manager?

She treated her subordinates very badly. She also had an unapproachable demeanor and through a number of temper tantrums.

In addition to the mistreatment of her employees, the executive had a disorganized approach to work and often leaped to solutions with little explanation or foresight. She did not value those who made "lesser" contributions and she blatantly played favorites with her subordinates.

The company didn't want to replace the executive despite her many interpersonal problems. They knew that replacing her would be difficult due to her unusual combination of talent and skills and it would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Senior management believed that coaching her would be a sound investment.

The Game Plan

The company had the executive take some training to help her recognize her role as a leader in the organization. They also wanted the executive to develop an appreciation for others' contributions and to be consistent in the treatment of her colleagues. And of course, they wanted their rising star to improve her organizing skills and become more patient.

To discover the reasons for her difficulties with people, the executive's past and present bosses, colleagues, customers and followers were interviewed. This was a huge undertaking, but it revealed several possible causes for the problems.

The fact that the executive had little experience managing was a clear cause, as was the poor mentoring she had received for the role. However, an even more important factor was that the executive had no knowledge of her own behavioral style. In addition, she also had made no effort to understand her subordinates and was guilty of intellectual arrogance.

The executive didn't respect people unless they were her intellectual equal. That led to a lot of her negative behavior.

Instruments and Tools

One of the instruments that was believed would benefit the executive was the Everything DiSC Management Profile. This instrument was administered to the executive along with the executive's boss and the human resource director. Discussing the differences among the three people was an eye-opening experience for the executive.

She saw that her leadership talents did not always correspond to other people's preferences. She also realized that just because her boss did something a certain way did not mean that she had to do the same. She also learned how to more effectively recognize and understand the different styles of the people she managed and how to adapt her style to manage them more effectively.

A Leader Is Born

She was thrilled. The profile was very affirming and gave her a lot of great ideas for making her life easier. She had never had a reaction like that to any instrument.

The executive made breakthroughs at her own pace, and the results of the training sessions were striking. Learning about her own behavior and motivations helped the executive accept new skills as improvements, and not as obstacles. She recognized that she did not have to alter her style to communicate better. She also realized that her style was not superior or inferior to others, which had been a source of tension.

Before people were streaming into the human resources office to complain about her. Those complaints have dropped to zero. It makes all the difference when employees are given the time and tools to necessary to learn about themselves.

Challenge Yourself
  • What other tools you or your teams have used to learn about yourself?

If you think you could do more, let me help show you how you can coach your people to excellence.

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