A senior executive of a major financial services company exhibited great commercial capabilities and success. He had a very strong external reputation, and broad and deep relationships with top-flight clients; he generated high revenues for his firm and was considered one of the most knowledgeable, energetic and able professionals in his field. He was quoted frequently in the financial press as an expert and a leader in major business transactions.
Internally, however, junior professionals did not want to work with him; peers did not trust him; and top management in the firm did not believe he could advance further or lead a large group. There was even some concern that he might not be retained in the firm, despite his superb external performance, because of these issues.
A LRI consultant began to work with him as his executive coach. The consultant conducted structured interviews with numerous juniors, peers and seniors to elicit their candid views of the executive. The consultant synthesized the results of the interviews into themes, which he then discussed with the executive. By the executive’s own account, for the first time he had a clear and specific picture of how he was perceived by others in the firm, and the concerns others had about him. The consultant and he drafted and agreed upon an action plan to help him turn around his internal performance and image in the firm. The plan included a small set of development objectives, specific actions to address them, and metrics for determining success. The consultant continued to coach the executive in a series of meetings over a period of many months to support his efforts to implement the plan.
The executive was able to achieve his objectives, to an extent far beyond the expectations of his firm and himself. He made concerted efforts to foster the development of junior people who worked with him, and provided them with outstanding opportunities to prove themselves. As a result, he was able to help several of his people achieve major, well-deserved promotions. He developed a reputation as one of the senior executives that high-potential people in his area most wanted to work with. He greatly improved his manner of dealing and relationships with colleagues. Some of them expressed amazement at his willingness to address the significant issues they had with him, and his ability to change both his mindset and his behaviors in ways that gave him credibility he formerly lacked with them. Top management recognized his positive changes as well. Soon he was heading a much larger group. Together with members of his group, he was making far greater — in fact, disproportionately high — contributions to the firm’s revenues and success in the business.