There’s no question that some leaders need coaching. As corporations’ environments continue to become more diverse and ever changing, leaders will increasingly turn to Coaches for help on understanding how to navigate dynamics and lead their team successfully. This looks like an ideal scenario, we have a company going through a lot of changes, the company is evolving, a leader takes on a new role in a different department, the leader recognizes the challenges of moving to a new department with a different culture and reaches out to a Coach for support. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
During my time working as an HR Director I saw way too many times poor leaders impacting teams for the worse. One example that I came across involves a Sr. Director that had been part of the regional offices for 10 years. When this leader transferred to the company’s headquarters to lead a team that had experienced frequent management turnover, it absolutely made sense. She was a seasoned leader that appeared to understand the company’s unique culture, and appeared very enthusiastic about this new opportunity. The team was exhilarated and looking forward to finally have stability and true leadership and guidance. Better yet, it was a long tenured employee coming from the regional offices, what can go wrong? “It must be a perfect fit” or so we thought. Regrettably, short of 6 months after the new leader had arrived, she had lost all of her team to different opportunities, she had 100% turnover. One by one they started leaving, disappointed, disheartened and with a very bad taste in their mouth. “How can she not get it? This is not our culture” the team will say. The leader had taken the iron fist approach; She will make statements such as “I am going to micro manage you until I trust you” and “I don’t trust x person even if she has worked with the company for 30 years”. She proceeded to remove working from home privileges, remove any usage of corporate cards unless prior approval among other many other changes. Even the managers that reported to her had to ask for approval. The nuisance was that years before she joined the team, it had been agreed upon that employees will have corporate cards and will be allowed to use them without approval as part of promoting team member empowerment. This is just one example of what had made this company’s culture so special, they trusted their employees, and they believed in conscious leadership and not tyrant management. The aftermath of this situation was huge, on one hand, you had a discouraged leader left with 100% turnover, defensive, playing the blaming game, and why not said set up for failure. Subsequently, no one foresaw any challenges of moving from the field offices to the headquarter offices or how some leaders don’t deal with change very well, no matter how high up the corporate ladder they might be in.
The reality is, this mess could have been prevented by simply having the leader work with a qualified Coach. Her Coach would have helped her go outside of her comfort zone, be open to meet new people and try new things. Likewise, her Coach potentially could have worked with her to better understand her own leadership style, her team needs and possibly even facilitate an effective team building. More important, a good business Coach would have given her unbiased opinions and lead her to ‘aha” moments to uncover solutions that people close to the situation might overlook.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that there is a growing need for Coaches in the corporate world. It was indeed an unfortunate way to learn. On the bright side, the benefits of working with a good qualified Coach have proven themselves once again.