Executive Coaching for Teams . Something Impossible?

Executive Coaching for Teams . Something Impossible?

Our series continues with a post on  Executive Coaching for teams . Something Impossible?

Enjoy The Inside View with Barry Pogorel

What happens after a merger takes place?

That’s when senior executives are left with the often daunting task of making the merger work in the real world, with real people.

This case study may surprise you as Barry’s executive coaching for teams set about creating a new context for formerly very competitive foes.  

Post-merger, what these new teams faced: Something Impossible

Post-merger, the new company was disjointed. The newly formed executive teams in the various regions of the world were made up of executives who had previously been fierce competitors.

Overall, the company’s performance was impacted by all this and in a declined state.

I worked with one region of the world as a pilot to see if we could transform it into a high-performance team/culture in a short time frame and produce a breakthrough in results.

I began working the regions executive team in a “leadership intensive”: 5 days in one month, and 5 more days a month later. We began by creating a “safe space” in which people were encouraged to be candid. The president promised this.

We examined, person by person, their strengths and defenses: we looked at each person’s formulaic ways of winning—their personal strategies.

Then we looked at each of their typical responses to threats. After a while, everyone saw that underneath the variations, there was a kind of template—something very human and universal.

A note here: my work is not psychological—but rather ontological. That is, having to do with being (ontos in Greek means “being”). And there is a generalizable “being” of being a leader. A fundamental structure that has to do with certain habitual ways of thinking, communicating, relating, and acting, like a piece of software that reliably repeats itself.

Was is the real challenge in executive coaching for teams ? Could they let their guard down? 

We went around the room, person by person, exploring her/his “ways of being.” It became apparent to everyone that, although they had different variations on the theme, there in fact was an underlying theme as to how they succeeded and how they responded to threat or danger that was universal.

Everyone increasingly let their guard down, as they saw the common humanity in the room.

The president proposed, in this new-found collegiality and partnership, that they take on something big together—something impossible: a breakthrough in market share throughout the entire region.

They asked if I would train the various local executive teams in the same material and get them all on board, which I did.

A Revolutionary Result:

In a year when the region was experiencing a recession, they produced a breakthrough in market share and surpassed every crucial financial measure.

The corporate president acknowledged them for not only their superb performance beyond any other region in the world, but also for having become a seamless team.

The executives not only made something that had seemed impossible happen, but also had real breakthroughs in their own development as leaders.



Your comments and questions are invited. about this post or any issues you’d like to see in the series.

You may also want to visit “How to Choose the Right Executive Coach” for a winning approach to selecting the right coach for yourself, or your team.

The Court of Public Opinion | Part 2, Outside

The Court of Public Opinion | Part 2, Outside

I was consulting a division of a company in the hospitality industry.

Before I began working with the senior executives, a major event occurred and was represented in the news.

The Warning Signs and External Signals of trouble in the Court of Public Opinion were everywhere:

I watched as the executives, and in particular the CEO, “whistled in the dark.” You know—if you’re walking down a dark and menacing road at night, if you whistle a happy tune, everything will be ok! Right?

They did not address this honestly in the public domain nor in employee meetings.

I watched the impact on stock price, revenue growth, and internal defections of valuable personnel.

CEO’s and other C-Suite Executives, BEWARE!

There is something all around you that can sink the best of intentions and plans! You must attend to it or face dire consequences for your company: the Court of Public Opinion (COPO).

At first, it may be invisible, like air to a bird, until we intentionally become aware of it.

There is  a human tendency to avoid what is unpleasant, disturbing, threatening, disruptive—what appears to be “bad news.” So it is counter-impulsive to take on COPO and have an effective and even masterful relationship with it. And, this is crucial to effectively lead and to succeed.

Four aspects of COPO and their corresponding registers/dashboards are:

ASPECT

    1. The internal rumor mill
    2. Marketplace reputation and perceived 
company future
    3. Customers and general public
    4. News media

REGISTER/ DASHBOARD

    1. The company culture
    2. Stock price
    3. Sales and market share
    4. All of the above

An additional complexity is that these four aspects influence each other.

To deal with COPO powerfully, you must begin by understanding what it actually is.

What is the nature of it? What is the DNA of COPO?

Very specifically: it is what people are saying and what people are hearing.

So the key is listening. Not to the noise of our own internal dialogue, our interpretations, judgements, and opinions. The CEO needs to listen outwardly and vigorously to her/his executives. And the executives need to listen outwardly and vigorously to each other. And the entire C-suite needs to listen to the workforce, the public media, customers. How can a leader effectively respond to others in an authentic and persuasive way if that leader has not fully heard exactly what people are actually saying?

No question that there is certain information that cannot and should not be said outside the  C-suite and/or Board room.  However when an event occurs, such as a critical change of leadership, an SEC investigation, a security breach, a crisis, etc. if you do not manage The Court of Public Opinion consciously and intentionally, then it will go its own way and you will be subject to it and the victim of it.

As the leadership of the company, what guides you in your response?

Shakespeare gave us this sage advice:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

What do the executives on behalf of a company stand for?

Every company these days has mission-vision-value statements.

Are these alive and practiced in the daily life of the company?

Are they the basis for actions, for strategic choices, for dealing with breakdowns?

Or are they wall-paper: good intentions but not actionable? We all know the proverb ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

We make sure our clients learn to listen deeply and thoroughly, and to respond effectively and powerfully to the Court of Public Opinion.

 


Want the “Warning Signs • External Signals” for The Court of Public Opinion?

Click here to get yours, free, from our Edgevantage Guides series.

 

Character

Character

Each day, our news is filled with shocking revelations of corruption: in sports, entertainment, education, government, healthcare, business, and other fields. The costs are high: severe loss of credibility of institutions/individuals and damage to the personal lives of those people impacted.

What is the root cause of these failures? And what is the solution?

The Japanese speak of kokoro—character, essence, heart, spirit. The Samurai cultivated kokoro in themselves and those they mentored or trained. These breaches of morality, ethics, and law reflect a breakdown in kokoro—in character.

A search in the dictionary finds character associated with uprightness, trustworthiness, incorruptibility, honesty, a state of being whole and complete. Integrity is associated with these same antonyms.

“An individual is whole and complete when their word is whole and complete, and their word is whole and complete when they honor their word,” says Harvard Business School emeritus professor, Michael C. Jensen in an interview that appeared in The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, Fall 2009. He draws a direct connection between integrity defined in this way and organizational effectiveness and productivity. So too for individuals and teams.

Is your word your bond? Is your team’s word their bond? That is, is it binding? In the daily practice of your work and life, is there consistency between what is said and what is done?

Common remedies are insufficient.

When a baseball player wants to hit a homerun, he doesn’t climb up in the stands where the scoreboard is and manipulate the numbers. He deals with what it takes standing in the batter’s box to powerfully and accurately hit the ball coming at him.

To resolve the root cause of our societal/business problems and to produce a home run in our performance as individuals, teams and organizations, we must deal with what is in the batter’s box of our business and life: our character, and our integrity.

• • •

Barry Pogorel Leadership deals with the root cause of great performance, enabling you and your people to produce extraordinary results. Contact us to schedule a confidential conversation. 

6 Principles of High Performance Teams

6 Principles of High Performance Teams

There is a science to having a high-performance team.

Just as there are laws for how the physical universe works, there are certain laws or principles that determine team effectiveness.

Water molecules require 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. Anything less, and you do not have water. High performance teams require 6 principles to be in play. If any of these principles are missing, you do not have a high-performance team.

The 6 principles of high-performance teams are
    1. Team members need to hear others—peers, reports, customers. Hearing means understanding what another says without judgement, without opinion. Getting exactly what they are saying. Ok to consider, judge and evaluate later—but first, hear it untampered so that the other knows you heard them fully.
    2. Genuine speaking—say it the way it is. Respectful always, but completely straightforward. Honest. Not held back.
    3. Each team member’s word is their bond. They do what they said they would do and hold others to what those others said they would do.
    4. Just as you want your favorite sports team to win, you want your colleagues on your team to win in their respective roles.
    5. Verbal recognition of other team members for what they accomplish and for what they contribute to the team and organization.
    6. Having a shared vision for the future—aligned on intentions and goals.
The benefits of having these principles alive in the behavior of a team are
    • A leap in results by both the team as a whole, and (interestingly) the individual members
    • Trust and connection
    • Greater well-being, ease, reduction in stress, happiness
    • The foundation for a high-performance culture

Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Barry Pogorel Leadership brings these principles alive in the daily functioning of teams so that they achieve what they are committed to, and beyond.

Don’t Fight the River

Don’t Fight the River

A friend of mine shared the following story with me:

“I was travelling some years ago in Costa Rica. My travelling companions and I decided to go white-water rafting on the Pacuare River. For those who know this sport, the Pacuare is a Class IV river.

It was spectacular—breathtaking—almost surreal in its beauty. After floating peacefully along for some time, at one point, several of us decided to jump into the water for a swim. It was warm! Delighted, we swam back and forth for a time. Pretty quickly, however, the current was getting stronger, the water more turbulent, than we had anticipated when sitting in the boat. The Pacuare was gurgling in white-water.

The boat’s captain was yelling at us—we could see his facial expression and his waving hands directing us to come back, but we couldn’t hear him given the turbulence of the river. And the current was strong enough that it held us back from being able to get back to the boat. After about 10 minutes of floating downstream, we suddenly saw large boulders up ahead, right in the middle of the river. They did not look inviting.

Several of my swimming team members panicked, struggling frantically to avoid running into the rocks. Others of us after a short struggle with the river somehow got the message that the river was more powerful than we were and that fighting it was completely futile, so we let go into the flow of the river, allowing it to carry us. This definitely took some courage, putting ourselves in the hands of this mighty river.

Amazingly, those who did not fight the river found that they could maneuver in the current with slight hand and arm motions, easily being carried around the rocks, while our less lucky team members who fought the river went directly into the rocks.

Fortunately, everyone survived, albeit some with bruises and scrapes.”

Lesson: if you are present and see the forces around you, sometimes rather than fighting them, you can work with them to get where you want to go.

Alex and the Wall

Alex and the Wall

Free Solo is a documentary film of Alex Honnold’s solo, free (no support ropes) climb of Yosemite’s 3000 foot El Capitan Wall. What he did was impossible. And in the fabric of his story are the elements of what it takes for any human being to accomplish what is impossible in their chosen field or area of concern.  If we shake off the natural complacency that gradually overtakes us in life, and tell the truth, there are impossible things we dream of making happen that would light us up: A extraordinary goal. An inspiring achievement. A dream. A vision. An authentic passion. And in the course of living with all its “slings and arrows,” most of us at some point give up such a pursuit and resign ourselves to go about the business of normal living. Alex did not. He had El Capitan. What did it take to climb the Wall? To accomplish the impossible? Some of what it took:

Honesty—he was in the practice of rigorously telling the truth in his life. When on a vertical wall two thousand feet above the ground, hanging onto a tiny ridge or dent in the granite, he had to see and say what was real. No illusions, no guesses, no hopes, no speculations. This included beginning the ascent one day and knowing himself well enough to tell the truth: “Today is not the day to climb.”

Integrity—he had to do impeccable preparation. Integrity is defined as “no component parts missing”. Nothing overlooked or left out or not considered. His execution of the climb had to be equally impeccable. Every step, every reach, every grasp had to be considered. Part of his readiness was to have integrity with his own physical state: to be in perfect condition, which included have an injured foot-ankle restored.

Single focus—a passionate commitment to the feat at hand. All self-concerns, all ego, was dismissed the moment it showed itself. There was nothing but The Wall. He was fully present at each moment.

Unstoppable and “un-reasonable”—he dismissed any thoughts of “it can’t be done” or “this problem makes it undoable” or “this is insurmountable” or “this is bigger than I can ever be” or “it’s never been done” or “I’m not the one to do this.” He put aside all reasons for why not. Instead, he thought only of “what’s needed now?” and “what’s possible in this situation?” and “what’s next?” No self-concern for comfort or convenience. No formula, no habitual patterns of thinking, planning, and acting. Dealing with this moment. Doing whatever is called for, whatever is wanted, whatever is needed. No thinking. Total presence.

Mostly in life we look for the confidence of certainty. He had only the confidence of honesty, integrity, focus, being present and perfect readiness.

These elements made an ordinary person extraordinary.

What about you? What is your El Capitan?