It only takes one ineffective leader to lower productivity and increase turnover in your organization and these two problems can cost you thousands of dollars if left unchecked. But there is hope! Many leaders are unaware of the negative impact they are having on the people and productivity around them. Given the chance, they learn and grow to become effective, high-producing team leaders.
Recently, I worked with an executive leader that had a stellar reputation for his technical skills and ability to produce outstanding results, quarter after quarter. In fact, his CEO called him the “mailman” because he always delivered. Although his CEO loved him, his direct reports and peers did not like working with or for him. HR felt that the executive should be let go. The CEO did not want to fire this executive, but the number of complaints brought to HR about how this executive treated people was making it too difficult to ignore the problem any longer.
This executive was described as:
- Egotistical: unwilling to admit he might be wrong or others were right
- Having an abrupt, abrasive and condescending communication style
- Spending most of his time speaking and very little of his time listening and asking questions
- So focused on his and his own team’s results that he was willing to throw others in the company under the bus
- Unappreciative of other’s contributions
Do these adjectives describe someone on your team? If so, follow the six steps listed below to help your leader build stronger relationships in which peers and direct reports are motivated to follow the leader.
- Assess the leader’s perception of his or her strengths and opportunities. Meet with the leader to discuss how they perceive their leadership and what they believe others would say about their leadership, communication, and performance management style.
- Conduct one-on-one interviews. Seek details about the leader’s behaviors that are causing problems and complaints with coworkers. Obtain input from the leader’s boss, and a cross-section of peers, internal customers and direct reports.
- Administer a 360 Leadership Development Assessment. Use the highlights of the interviews to customize a survey to address specific concerns as well as his strengths to gain quantifiable data on leadership competencies. A well-balanced survey will help the leader see his greatest leadership strengths and identify his greatest opportunities for improvement.
- Create an action plan. Work with the leader to develop an action plan based on the leader’s goals and feedback collected from coworkers. Focus on three (no more than four) areas for development. Make actions SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Schedule regular coaching sessions. Meet frequently with the leader to develop skills to effectively implement actions outlined in the plan. Assess progress, discuss challenges and provide feedback and training on a consistent basis.
- Collect follow-up feedback. After six months (or other agreed upon timeframe), evaluate how the leader is doing with interactions with coworkers. Use interviews and surveys to assess progress. Amend the action plan, as needed, based on information and actions suggested by employees.
The leader mentioned at the beginning of this article was offered the opportunity to work with an executive coach and he took the opportunity to heart and made a dramatic turnaround. We implemented the actions outlined above and worked on executing his action plan for six months.
Executive coaching prevented this company from undergoing a costly and disruptive change in the executive position. This resulted in the retention of a high-performing executive able to effectively lead a team of engaged, motivated, and happy employees.
Does one of your leaders need help? Contact Peter Barron Stark Companies to learn more about how executive coaching can increase the effectiveness of your key leaders and save you thousands of dollars.