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No One is Perfect! – Part I

A Mini Case Study:

One leader’s story of how accepting he is not perfect led to stronger working relationships

<This story is about one of ACG’s coaching clients, the name of the leader as well as other that may identify the leader or the organization has been changed.>

Jack, a senior vice president of a global organization was having increasing difficulty in getting initiatives accomplished. This trouble seemed to begin after the executive leadership team – including the CEO, COO and CFO – turned over and new individuals began to lead the organization. In the past, Jack seemed to be more in sync with the last executive team. He was certainly less in sync now. In a recent meeting with the COO, to whom Jack reports, the COO told Jack that he needs to accept that he does not know everything and needs to start relying on others internal and external to his team for their expertise. If he did not do so, the COO warned, there would be repercussions. The COO shared with Jack a number of situations where he felt that Jack had made the wrong call because he did not rely on the expertise of others.

Jack reflected on what the COO said in the meeting. It was true that he did not rely on others for decision making, solving problems or even which path to take to achieve divisional goals; but he assumed this was his responsibility alone. Additionally, he certainly did not want to be responsible for any bad decisions made or impacts to the bottom line. He had goals to reach and needed to keep his team moving forward to achieve those goals. He was most comfortable with telling his VPs exactly what needed to be done and who they should assign on their team to complete initiatives. Jack did acknowledge that he didn’t retain VPs long in his group and that was becoming more of a problem for him as the organization became more complex and more was expected of Jack. However, Jack wasn’t sure that the fact that VPs were leaving his group was necessarily his problem. He believed that mainly the reason was because they could not handle the heavy workload.

A 360 Assessment

As part of making some changes, a 360 assessment was conducted of all Executive and Senior Vice Presidents. The goal was to determine where improvements might be made in transforming the organization to increase innovation and enable for more autonomy at the lower levels. Given the significant turnover at the executive (C-suite) level, it didn’t make sense to add them into the 360 process at this time.

Jack’s 360 process included:

  • His own self-assessment
  • An assessment of him by his boss, the COO
  • Assessments of him by his 5 direct reports (all VPs)
  • Assessments of him by his indirect reports (8 selected individuals who reported up the VPs but who have worked closely with Jack over the past 1 – 2 years)
  • Assessments of him by 5 peers
  • Follow up interviews with direct and select indirect reports.

A total of 20 assessments and nine follow-up interviews were completed for Jack.
The assessment results indicated the following:

  • All decision making was done by Jack which has caused the following issues:
    • Delay in decision making
    • Incorrect/poorly made decisions
  • Goals to be met were unclear (all reports – direct and indirect)
  • Roles and responsibilities were unclear (this comment was consistent from Jack’s direct reports and was also commented on by his boss)
  • There was a lack of understanding of the strategy for the organization (all reports – direct and indirect as well as his boss)
  • Peers noted that Jack:
    • Did not collaborate to achieve goals
    • Kept his group silo’ed within the organization
    • Did not perform well under pressure
    • Did not accept responsibility for problems within his group
    • Was unable to contribute to the group at a strategic level

The following was gathered from both 360 assessment data as well as in-person interviews with both direct and indirect reports:

  • Jack did not manage well under pressure or when feeling stressed – he lashed out at others.
  • When things went wrong – such as a poor decision made or problems meeting goals – Jack often blamed others (Two of the individuals interviewed both shared a story of a situation they were in with Jack where they proposed a solution to a problem. Jack ignored their proposed solution and told them to implement his solution. When the solution did not resolve the problem, Jack told the COO that these two individuals were at fault for implementing a bad solution they came up with.)
  • Jack had apparent favorites in the group – both at the direct and indirect levels. Others perceived that these favorites were given extra days off, were able to leave early and were given the best assignments.

Jack’s self-responses to the assessment questions were in contradiction to what his boss, his peers, his direct and indirect reports noted.

This information would be used to structure a conversation with Jack to get him back on track.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Jack’s Meeting with the Coach

To learn more about Abudi Consulting Group’s 360 assessment tool, contact us today.

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