1. Consultant

    March 28, 2012 by christine


    We worked with a consultant who was leading a critical piece of work with a global telecommunications company. He had failed to establish trust with one of the key stakeholders and their relationship was going from bad to worse. The consultant had to make the relationship work: his company would not tolerate losing this account and it was his responsibility to get it back on track.

    He had done everything he knew to understand and meet the client’s needs, but this one stakeholder seemed never to be satisfied. Working together was starting to seem impossible.

    We helped the consultant identify strategies for pulling the situation back from the edge. He noticed how he could trip himself up by feeling frustrated with the client stakeholder’s apparent intransigence. He then focused on the stakeholder’s agenda and planned how he could listen more effectively and ask incisive questions which would add value to their conversations. His aim was to get them both on to common ground.

    He identified the areas where the client stakeholder and he triggered unhelpful responses in each other, and those where they would be most likely to establish genuine cooperation. His next meeting with the client went so well, he sold £400K of services — surprising himself and exceeding his target. But most important he positioned the account for a long term, productive relationship.

  2. Vice President EMEA

    by christine


    We worked with a vice president EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) heading up IT professional services. He had spent his first couple of years in post trouble-shooting to re-align the business. As a result, he implemented significant changes including restructuring and adding in new functions. Now the business was in better shape, averaging 15%+ growth between 2009-2010, he wanted to step back from operational issues and work more strategically. In particular, he wanted to focus on: rapid growth for the EMEA region; improving the customer experience; and gaining buy-in from the board of the global company for his longer term plans for structural changes across geographies.

    This VP was already an accomplished leader. He knew where he wanted to go with the EMEA business but needed dedicated time to focus on how to achieve changes at a granular level. His Accelerated Success programme gave him quality thinking time, where he could look at his business more strategically, challenge his assumptions on how it operated and extend his leadership style and approach.

    As a result of his programme the VP EMEA works more strategically than in the past. He regularly articulates his vision for the business and sets clear goals for his teams. He has gained real traction for long term changes and has been successful in socialising his ideas for restructuring with the global board and EMEA Country Managers. He has successfully engaged two countries in structural changes as key steps in achieving his strategic vision, and recruited new people to his management team who will be key players in helping him get there. His EMEA business achieved unprecedented success in the year of his programme, exceeding target by more than 20%. And finally, he has also been promoted to a new and more challenging role within the organisation.

  3. Regional Director of Professional Services

    by christine


    We worked with the regional director of professional services, heading up the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East & Africa) of a global data warehousing business. He had been hugely successful in setting up and growing his part of the business. However, following the economic downturn, in 2009 the board of the global company demanded tighter cost control and a greater focus on sustaining recent hard won growth.

    The director’s challenge was primarily around mindset and leadership maturity. His strengths in the start-up situation had been his blue-sky strategic thinking and entrepreneurial flair, coupled with the drive to jet from one country to another, leading from the front and rallying others to exceed target. For his people, rewards and prospects were good and they readily put up with the turmoil and pain of rapid change. However, his people now feared for their jobs and he needed to provide stability, consistency and focus on retaining core business. This was a significant shift from his previous remit of growth, growth, growth.

    Through his Accelerated Success programme he dealt with his disappointment at the dramatic change in his role and then focused on the new situation. He quickly saw that to control costs and retain staff in professional services he needed to build a culture of collaboration between his and other functions, something that had not been a priority when the business was growing rapidly. He developed a new set of strategic goals that were aligned with those of other functions and the business as a whole, and paid much more attention to how he communicated with other function heads and with his own management team. He worked with his management team to refocus their teams, at the same time reassuring them that they had a long term future with the company.

    In confronting his own difficulties in adapting to the new situation, the director was able reduce the difficulties faced by his peers, his management team and their teams. He has steadied the ship and reduced costs, while continuing to exceed revenue targets. He has also instilled a sense of confidence across the region, which has served to retain staff who were part of the success in the good times, setting the company up for continued success during the anticipated slowdown – which never came! The services division continues to grow rapidly and, benefiting greatly from its renewed focus, is exceeding revenue targets year on year.

  4. UK Country Head

    by christine


    We worked with the UK country head of a global ICT company. Internally there was a culture of individuals and teams working independently of or against each other. They wasted a lot of time and money competing for resources, where they should have been focusing on meeting client needs. His goal was to grow the company by £15 million over 3 years. He knew he needed to change the way they operated if he was to be successful.

    The country head used his Accelerated Success programme to work with his management team to develop a 3 year strategy for the company, and to ensure annual business goals were aligned. During this process he came to understand how much influence quarterly financial targets had on what got done, and what didn’t. This prompted him to introduce a management team meeting cycle that enabled them to balance today’s demands with longer term goals. This in turn highlighted the need for better management processes, which would help maintain focus and improve the quality of the information available to his team. By introducing improved processes, reporting on business performance was more accurate and timely, and decision making on critical business issues was better and faster.

    Not everyone on the management team welcomed this new level of visibility and accountability, and through his coaching programme he also extended his capability in managing change at the individual, team and organizational level. He learned that inspiring others to share his vision was about more than setting an income target. He developed his understanding of what being a good leader looks like and successfully put it into practice on the job.

    As a result, the management team became much more aligned and motivation improved, along with effectiveness. Business performance reporting and management also improved. The country head was communicating more effectively with individual team members and was better at supporting them in their roles. Management team communication was more open, there was greater accountability, and difficult issues were addressed rather than swept under the carpet. There was also a visible impact on the wider organisation, with greater clarity of purpose and improved cooperation and communication. The bottom line was that clients were happier and business results exceeded plan.

    Developing his own career he continued to take on additional responsibilities within the organisation and has since been promoted to a Group Leader position.


  5. Director of Sales

    by christine


    We worked with an industry sector director of sales, who was taking longer than he had expected to transition from high performing account director to leading a sales team. He had spent his first twelve months in post doing what he did best – being the best salesperson on his team. Unfortunately, this limited team member autonomy and slowed down the sales cycle. By the end of the year his team was well below target, demoralised, and the director was exhausted. He realised this wasn’t sustainable and that, if he wanted to succeed, he had to start thinking like a leader and develop new expertise and skills.

    Through his Accelerated Success programme he was able to step back from operational issues and trust his very talented team to do their job. As a leader, he had to develop a sustainable vision and strategy which would enable long term success. The team needed to break out of the cycle of chasing every deal, just to make this quarter’s number, and the director had to stop micromanaging and start leading. With perseverance, he got to grips with formulating a vision and building a strategy. Then he cascaded this down to his team as clear goals, with milestones and a robust reporting framework. He coached and mentored individual team members in planning and problem solving but didn’t interfere with implementing solutions. And he made sure they had the necessary resources to do their job.

    By the end of his programme he had more closely aligned team goals with wider business goals and established longer term targets. These weren’t just for revenue but for targeting new clients where there was a good fit and better prospects for long term and productive relationships. He also understood that he needed to pay close attention to retaining his high performers and to recruiting new people who could deliver to his vision.

    It’s still early days for this director but he is getting results. He has a sound strategy for growth which is supported by his vice president. Team members are much more motivated, clearer about what they are doing and work with far greater autonomy. The director of sales is less stressed and confident he will learn to be as effective in his leadership role as he was as a team member.


  6. Director of Business Development

    by christine


    We worked with a newly appointed director of business development. The role was a new position in the company and it was a radical change from his previous job. Furthermore, it had been a number of years since he had directly managed a team. He now had to build and lead a new department, which had two years to be successful and meet revenue targets. He knew he needed to get a clear idea of what his new job was all about and to develop the capabilities to step up to the challenge. A big concern for him was how to be effective in the role and bring the best out in his new team.

    His Accelerated Success programme enabled him to step back from fire fighting – initially he behaved as though everything was important, so he tried to do everything. He realised he had to set specific time aside to think about strategy and the longer term in a more structured way. By thinking strategically about what he should be doing, he stopped wasting his time on jobs that were of no value.

    An important step was to improve communication and collaboration with his peers on the company’s management team. He improved his understanding of the sales directors’ pipelines and their plans for the next 12-24 months, and focused on integrating business development into the flow of information. Through doing this, he created a framework that minimised the number of gaps in communication, that had frequently led to problems for members of the management team in the past.

    Building these peer relationships enabled him to provide real leadership for his team too, getting them to think about the bigger picture and what they were trying to achieve with each prospect. The team has a weekly briefing so everyone knows what he or she has to focus on and the director knows his team’s activity is aligned. In particular, he was able to greatly reduce the amount of time they spent working on leads that were of no real substance, freeing up their time to focus on genuine prospects. The whole team is much clearer about what is expected of them, and they come across more professionally to prospective clients because they are well prepared for sales calls. As a result they provide more and better quality leads for the sales teams.

    The director of business development is now more effective than he was before his programme, and is enjoying himself more. He reports, ‘I’ve got much better use of my time and better use of my day, without working ridiculous hours. I can delegate in a thoughtful and planned way.’ And his boss said, ‘As an organisation we are in a much better position to execute for 2012. There is also more potential to develop the business development role. There was no blue print for this role before you (the director) took it on. Now other countries are putting in this role and they are coming to the UK for guidance.’

    His approach helps his boss in other ways too. Their one-to-one meetings are highly focused and tackle priority issues. They have a shorter list of things to discuss when they meet, which are the right things for the business to drive growth. They have also cleared time to focus on the important strategic alliances which will help them grow the business.

  7. Sales Director

    by christine


    We worked with a sales director in a systems solutions and professional services company. His team was successful but he knew he could get better results if he improved working relationships.

    At the start of his Accelerated Success programme the sales director recognised there was a silo mentality between sales and professional services. A lack of trust between key executives was slowing down the allocation of resources, and a general lack of cooperation between the two teams was impeding agility and affecting results. He therefore worked on his strategy to mend fences and demonstrate a genuine intention to collaborate. This meant careful planning for some difficult conversations and exploring conflict resolution techniques.

    It was hard going at first but his commitment to growing the business helped him succeed. Taking a pragmatic approach, he established a communication process which involved professional services much earlier in the sales cycle. This relieved the pressure on both teams and gave them time to plan resourcing of new opportunities more effectively. Where previously the sales director’s team had competed for resources and assigned blame, they developed trust and learned to collaborate with the professional services team. Over time, the professional services manager noticed that utilization rates with this sales director’s team were high. He therefore insisted his team work in the same way with all function leaders, which substantially increased his revenue.

    By changing his leadership style, the sales director shaped his entire team’s performance and also directly influenced improved performance of another function. This helped accelerate the sales cycle and the sales team’s contribution to UK revenue grew from 45% to 65%, an increase of approximately £7.5 million annually.

    A driven and very successful executive he has now been promoted into a Business Leader role within the organisation.

  8. Practice Leader

    by christine


    When leaders learn to focus on what adds most value in achieving business goals, they focus others around them too. That’s what happened when the leader of an overseas consulting practice in a rapidly growing market came to us. As part of a global company, his practice of 350 people had been set very challenging growth targets, and he wanted to free himself up to focus on strategy and empower his management team to take ownership of the operational side. However, his team was already working flat out, just not always on the right things. There were too many problems and distractions throwing them off course. The practice leader knew what he wanted to change, he just wasn’t sure how to make this happen.

    We customised an Accelerated Success programme, focused on helping him learn on the job how to grow the capability of his management team, enabling them to take to take the lead on operational issues. After a testing couple of years he also wanted to reinvigorate the practice, slow down attrition and get people excited about the future. So we worked with him on how to engage his team in this process.

    First steps included extending his delegation skills and how to pass important tasks onto the right people, at the right time and in the right way. As the programme coincided with the performance review cycle, we also worked on developing his coaching and feedback skills. We planned sessions with his people before he did them in the field, so the results he got were better and faster. Then we reviewed and refined his approach so that he could continue to develop it on the job. By extending his own capability this leader was also growing the company’s next generation of talent. When he paid attention to his own competence, he learned and consciously passed the lessons on to his team.

    We helped him learn how to engage his management team in creating a compelling vision for the practice, which was closely aligned with the direction of the organisation. He led his team through this process and then tasked each manager with repeating the process with their own team, thereby engaging more people in the new direction. As a result, team members got clear on how the practice aligned with the company globally, and what they needed to do individually to achieve practice goals. In 2010 the practice had its best year ever, and is now highly focused and continues to exceed targets.

  9. Financial Services Director of Sales

    by christine


    A financial services sales manager had been in the role for two years. He was successful and had a clear strategy for continuing to grow his part of the business by breaking into a new industry sector. He knew that how he performed as a leader would have a direct impact on his team and he knew he could stretch his people, delegate more of the sales execution, freeing him up to focus on strategy and the longer term.

    Changes in the team meant he had to fill vacancies and transition new people into the organisation. Furthermore, he had two less experienced people whom he would like to move into more challenging roles. He couldn’t afford to let execution on deals slip, because he had to make his quarterly targets. How could he continue to support his team and develop his own capability when his bandwidth was so limited?

    The Accelerated Success programme gave him space to reflect on what makes a good leader and how to foster high performance in his team. With his less experienced staff, this seasoned sales executive had relied heavily on directing the team. He’d seen most problems before and he didn’t have time to talk things through – feeling under pressure and short of time is the enemy of good coaching. We explored the value of directing versus taking more time, at least at first, to help individuals work out solutions for themselves.

    He learned the difference between mentoring and coaching, when to do one or the other, and he increased his ability to do both. When he coached he noticed this gave individuals an opportunity to figure out how to deal with the issue in the right way. They’d come up with the actions and they felt much better because they had worked out how to solve the problem themselves. He would help them look at the goal and where they were trying to get to, then look at the options for getting to that place, using questions to get the individual thinking for themselves. As a result, he started to get the breakthrough moments that you need in a sales situation.

    He reported, ‘We have to work closely together as a team to get results. There are things which enable us – trust and respect – and coaching my team developed that. It was satisfying for me to get to the end of a call or meeting, where I had people thinking and looking at different options and actions. I didn’t always have to jump in and tell people what to do.’

    His team learned how to win good, profitable, long term business: mega major accounts, which mean multi million dollar revenue year on year, if they do the job right. Winning new business is a key enabler for the company and although it is very hard to do, it can be done and his team does it.

    His final comment was, ‘This kind of performance is directly related to the team working in a certain way – that’s my belief. I was able to delegate effectively and empower my team, to be there to support them when needed but not smothering them. The benefit to the company is directly related to the bottom line.

  10. Professional Services Manager

    by christine


    A head of professional services wanted to his team to be more effective. He wanted his direct reports to take more decisions on their own and to encourage the same behaviour in their own teams. When his managers constantly came to him to solve problems, he became a bottle neck and issues got delayed. The consequence was his work load increased because he got involved in additional meetings to sort things out.

    During his Accelerated Success programme he recognised coaching as a skill he could learn and apply right away. He saw it as a powerful tool to stimulate the thinking of his managers, but that it was also something he could use with peers, between teams and with customers.

    He took it slowly at first, allowing his team time to adjust to his new approach of asking questions as opposed to telling. Coaching on the job helped him become a better manager, who delegated more. He stopped taking on additional work because he helped individuals think through issues and generate options for moving forwards. Over time he gave up control of solving problems as individuals learned to think for themselves. Of course this freed him up to work on more important stuff, which previously he had had to put off. Now his managers come to him with problems and solutions, which they discuss. He also encourages them to coach their teams and has seen confidence improve as individuals take on and succeed in more complex tasks.

    Curiously enough, an unexpected outcome in becoming a good coach was extending his listening capability. In the heat of the moment he noticed he finished people’s sentences or just give them a solution. Now he takes a step back and hears people out before he decides how to move forwards. He reports he is more patient with his team – which is validated by his boss – and actively encourages them to give their input. He reports, ‘When you are a better listener the solutions are better and the other party is more satisfied’.

    Customers have also felt the benefit. He listens to understand what they really mean, so that he is clear on what their issues are. This approach has helped him handle a number of tricky customer situations.

  11. Global Account Director

    by christine


    We worked with a global account director who wanted to step back from his role and look at the bigger picture, enabling him to focus on making a real difference to his business. He had always made a point of responding to emails and voicemails promptly but realised this meant he spent his time reacting to other people’s agendas. He needed to identify his own agenda for the team and free up his time to deliver to that. At first he thought there just weren’t enough hours in the day and that high stress levels went with the territory.

    Through his Accelerated Success programme he developed working habits that got better results for him, his team and for customers. This meant getting clear on the long term strategy for his part of the business, then making sure individuals understood their objectives, which would deliver the revenue. He became more goal focused and learned how to prioritise more effectively – now he decides what’s important. His team worked to his lead and are clearer on what is expected of them. They now spend more time thinking about how to engage with customers and partner organisations, to ensure they deliver the best possible service. They are also learning far more from customers and partners about how to continue to improve.

    The changes the account director has implemented have become the norm for his team. Now that he is truly goal-focused and has learned to prioritise, he spends more of his time helping the team win new business and achieving higher margins. The team gets the deal in this quarter as planned and doesn’t let it slip to the next. This translates directly to increased profit for the company as a whole.

  12. Operations Manager

    by christine


    A strong leader with a drive for delivering a quality service, this manager realised he had to modify his direct approach if he wanted to resolve performance problems quickly. As a field manager he was responsible for ensuring his team of engineers responded in a timely and efficient manner to client problems. A failure at his level impacted the organisation’s KPIs. However, his commitment to ‘getting it right’ meant he resorted to command and control, which upset both suppliers and staff. His strength was his passion for doing a job well and seeing it through to the end, however, this could also trip him up when he felt frustrated by lack of progress.

    The team leader wanted time to step back from the pressure of the job to examine his behaviour and evolve a more effective way of influencing his colleagues. We reviewed past situations so that he could see the pattern which led to his behaviour and what it might be like to be on the receiving end. He could see there was a point where he needed to step back and recognize I can’t solve this problem and I need to pass it on to someone who can. He needed to let go of the issue before he got too wrapped up in it and lost perspective.

    Over the next few months he practised biting his lip, while recognizing his tendency to get cross, frustrated and then shout. It was hard going because he just wanted to do a great job. But he also came to see there was a cut off point – he could either let it go or escalate it.

    By the end of the programme he reported feeling less in the thick of things and more able to consider consequences in advance, which meant he now avoided knee jerk reactions. He also felt calmer and more considered, which subsequently enabled him to make better decisions. There are many ways to gain cooperation and this team leader had started to explore more productive ways of influencing others.

We offer a free session to help you decide if working with us will extend your performance and deliver the results you want. The purpose of the session is for you to reflect on:

  • Your objectives for the next 12-24 months
  • The most important and challenging aspects of these objectives
  • What it would be most important for your part of the organisation to get better at, in order to achieve fully the business objectives.

You will also know if our accelerated success programmes are right for you.

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