Welcome to our series: Executive Coaching . The Inside View with Barry Pogorel
Promoting from within has its own pitfalls for all concerned, especially so for senior management, charged with leading a company full of uniquely gifted and challenged people.
Must those pitfalls trap you? This case study may echo one you’ve seen up close… or lived yourself.
A CEO’s Dilemma
The Chairman of a global company contacted me. He said that he was looking for the company’s next President.
His top performing executive had asked for the job. This man was his most effective EVP, however, at the same time was a significant liability. The executive produced outstanding results in developing new business. When developing a project, however, he would do whatever it took to make it happen internally.
Although many people appreciated him, and were even in awe of him, they also feared him. He would threaten, cajole, pressure, force whomever and however across the company to get what he wanted. He moved quickly, decisively, and was frustrated and impatient when others didn’t do the same or had objections or issues with what he wanted. Finally, and this was the last straw, he told the Chairman that if he wasn’t made President in short order, he would leave the company and go to a competitor.
The Chairman told me that if he promoted this man, many people in the company would call and say, “Are you out of your mind?!” The Chairman asked me if I could “make him into a president.” I said that that depended on whether he was coachable and willing to deal with the issues the Chairman and others saw and wanted resolved. I proposed to meet with the man and find out.
In our first meeting, I instantly liked him. I could see that his commitment and brilliance was dimmed by his forcefulness and impatience. He told me he was interested in executive coaching and was open to discovering how he could function differently. He expressed genuine excitement to have the opportunity to develop himself as a leader. Although he didn’t entirely agree with the Chairman’s assessment of him, he saw there were some points that were valid. We began to work together.
Can You Tame a Talent from Rough to Ready?
In the course of our coaching sessions he discovered something profound in looking at his past. Oftentimes the biggest barrier to achieving what we most care about is our own past and the life-altering decisions we’ve made (and now are unaware of).
In looking at the origins of his impatience and forcefulness, he remembered a morning when he was a child. His mother sat him, his brother and sister down and cried for a few moments, and then said that she and their father were going to divorce, that their dad had a new job in England and would be living there. He recalled being shocked, scared, and confused. He also remembered thinking to himself: “I don’t have a dad anymore. No one’s going to protect us. I have to do things all by myself.” He became a solo force in the world. To others, this manifested as a one-man, independent power with great impatience to get things done.
This was the origin of his bull-in-a-china-shop behavior.
Some insights are merely theoretical. Other insights gained through self-reflection are deep and life-altering. This insight produced a breakthrough and he felt released. His effectiveness in producing results was undiminished, while at the same time he began collaborating with people, listening to others, inspiring and moving people into action rather than threatening/forcing them.
A Revolutionary Result:
Within 6 months, the Chairman appointed him President.
Out of our work together, my clients gain the key insights required to liberate them from whatever is constraining or limiting, and they achieve what they aspire to.
Your comments and questions are invited. about this post or any issues you’d like to see in the series.