In GW’s case he was an athlete and a super competitor. Winning was in his blood and so to him it seemed very natural to begin his career in the highly competitive part of any business – Sales. He quickly became successful, smashing targets and obliterating records he learned quickly how to win and keep wining. In our first meetings he said “I had exchanged my track shoes for a black top business shoe, but secretly when I look down I can still see my running shoes.” I knew right then that GW had defined himself as a competitor. “It’s just you and the track and the time you have to beat, the other competitors are just noise.” he told me as he talked about his philosophy for winning.
Being a successful CEO is a team endeavour.
GW was in his late 30’s when I was asked by his HR partner to meet him. He already had a team of both sales people and engineering operations reporting to him. The group’s senior management team had selected GW to become the next CEO of their European Business which was getting ready to IPO. The challenge as they saw it – “he is a great producer, but he doesn’t seem to be able to bring the team with him.”
Successful coaching is a product of two things: the effort put in by the client and the willingness of the coach to challenge fearlessly.
Changing behaviour requires introspection.
GW and I began our work. We started with a session about goals and aspirations. I wanted to learn what was important to GW and why it was important. I had him share his career history and we discovered career anchors past and present. To his surprise he had shifted from risk taking to security, an idea he found alien to his idea of self. As we worked further, using various tools to provide more and more insight he began to discover his needs, his strengths and the changes he would need to make in order to realise his ambitions.
I would really like to tell you that is all worked out well without a hitch, but that would be a lie. GW made changes slowly, he found the challenge of shifting to a new internal picture of himself overwhelming at times and his company eventually let him go before the IPO.
Learning, adapting and Succeeding.
However, his story didn’t end there, after a Target session we identified 3 great opportunities and he was quickly snapped up by a competitor. We continued to work together. Over time GW began to trust his new leadership style. COMPETE was still a very key element of GW’s leadership that he learned to re-purpose to help his team succeed.
Today GW is a CEO. More importantly he is the kind of CEO he aspired to be, competitive, team-builder and still winning races, only now he is not wearing the running shoes, his people are.