A businesswoman contemplates

The Context

The CEO of a medical technology firm has taken his market experience and strategic savvy and, harnessing his disciplined work ethic, dragged his country’s operation out of dismal performance and into success. The company has moved into third place in terms of market share.  It’s time for the company to consolidate its gains and position itself for a new season of growth.

The Problem

The CEO’s directive style of leadership is starting to look like it isn’t working anymore.  His management team is struggling to know how to fulfill their own leadership roles and he is in turn concerned about their level of performance. Is the company’s successful run about to falter?

The Solution

As is so often the case in business, the breakthroughs have to happen on multiple fronts: personal, team, strategic, structural, etc. It began with a coaching conversation in which the CEO recognized that his current style was necessary for a company in crisis, but not for a company clear of that danger. He immediately embarked on a focused coaching process in which he identified the root causes of his directive style and used that self-understanding to successfully develop a more consultative and distributive approach to leadership.

In a parallel process he drew his management team into strategic planning processes and invested in about eighteen months of leadership development for them: in the form of training, leadership and team assessments, coaching and on-the-job learning. He steadily increased their levels of responsibility, to the point where he was comfortable with not being present in meetings where strategic discussions were held and decisions made by his deputies.

The Success

The company went from being a demoralized organization to winning the Best Small-Medium Employer award three times in subsequent years and placing twice in the top 25 of Canadian SME’s. Since the crisis, the company’s market share increased from 3.7% to 15%, operating expenses plummeted from 120% of sales to 14% of sales, and revenues increased by a massive 540%. The company remains the strongest global region and is upheld as a model throughout the group.