CASE STUDIES

Supporting an MD of a global investment bank to transform her leadership style and heighten her trajectory.

The Client
As the head of a critical function for three large EMEA product areas, the client was known for her strong management style and ability to, “get things done”. She was an ideal fit for the firm’s Senior Leadership Programme – and Carrie was appointed as her coach to support her during her transition.

The challenge
Over time, the client had become less engaged when entering the Leadership Programme, admitting she “did not particularly look forward to coming into work”. Carrie was there to help the client turn this ambivalence into a more proactive attitude, with key goals to hone her leadership skills, and used psychometrics to increase the client’s awareness of her capabilities. Feedback from 360’s helped the client to gain a more strategic view of her potential within the firm.

What coaching achieved
Through one-to-one coaching, including high praise from the 360 feedback about her performance in her current role, the client gained real clarity about her reputation and potential across the firm –beyond the product areas she was managing. Finally, with valuable insight into different leadership styles and management techniques, the client felt more able to prime successors and delegate responsibility.

Helping a young CEO step into leadership and bring about change in a new role at a staid advisory boutique.

The Client
As heir apparent at an investment firm where he had spent most of his career, but with no set timeline for when the CEO was retiring, the client had moved to a new job at a privately-held advisory boutique where the CIO founder was stepping down.

The challenge
Despite its good reputation, the firm had a business model dependent on a few large clients and stuck in a complacent culture unhelpful to the challenges it faced in the market. The client was tasked by the board with transforming the organisation. This meant restructuring the management team, re-establishing best practice and re-booting existing client relationships as well as attracting new clients from EMEA. In his late 30s, he was new to the loneliness of the CEO role, the behaviour required to lead, and the stakeholder management required of him during the transition period.

What coaching achieved
A flexible year-long coaching programme offered the client an expert sounding board. Carrie was available to sense-check his strategy, and help him get to grips with the firm’s complicated ownership structure, constructively challenge a difficult management board and turn around a constrictive client situation. Coaching also supported the client’s waning patience, needed to tolerate the repeated delay of the founder stepping down. By providing ‘time to think’, coaching helped the client develop resilience, and manage board members, restructure the business model and re-engage key clients.

Sounding board for moving into a portfolio of board roles.

The Client
The CEO of a small financial services firm decided to move into a portfolio career after stepping down from his executive role. While CEO, he had one board role outside of financial services where he had spent his entire career. The client engaged Carrie in an open programme to provide support and an objective sounding board for the networking and interviewing required to build a portfolio, but also to ensure the target roles were a type and mix that aligned with the client’s values and future lifestyle plans.

The challenge
As his networking began, the client found that he was contacted for numerous roles in his home market and internationally very quickly, and that being that ‘in play’ required rigorous time and contact/content management, including frequent iterations of his CV and what seemed like endless conversations answering the question ‘what did he want to do?’. The ‘emotional rollercoaster’ of networking, exploratory meetings, updates with search consultants, interviews with Chairs, NEDs and CEOs, short-listings, rejections, offers and follow-up was exhausting and impacting his natural resilience and positive demeanour.

What coaching achieved
Coaching sessions and ad hoc conversations provided robust challenge and a safe place to think about how the client’s background, strengths, psychometric profile and values ‘fit’ with the various sectors, organisations, board structures, and roles on offer. Within a year, the client had what he called ‘the right mix’ of Chair and NED roles both at home and abroad, with board colleagues he was certain he would enjoy working with; strategic and sector challenge, and thus continuous learning; personal engagement. Finally, when combined, they met his target remuneration level.

Productively engaging all Board Directors in a FTSE 250's first external board evaluation.

The Client

This FTSE 250 owner-led organization floated in 2014 with an Executive Team that had worked together for more than two decades. It engaged three NEDs as part of its listing process, and added two more in the interim to the assignment. The Chair was stepping down after more than two decades leading the Board. Carrie and Neil Britten, a colleague from Britten-Coyne Partners, specialists in strategic risk, partnered to carry out the Board’s first external evaluation before the new Chair arrived.

The challenge

All Board Directors, Exec and Non-Exec, were frustrated with the lack of strategic discussion and challenge in Board meetings. All agreed that the Board was not spending its time most productively: the Board’s agenda was set in backward-looking briefings by the Executive rather than forward-looking debate around the strategy and future of the organization. There was no explicit Board or individual director development. Critical initiatives had been delayed or left to drag on, and these were not being effectively addressed by the Board. Also, there were difficult strategic and relationship issues that needed to be recognized and resolved for the Board to act fully and collectively as one. That there was no ‘burning platform’ was inhibiting change: the company had exceeded the City’s and clients’ expectations.

What the Board achieved

Through Board and Committee observation, analysis of key Board output (Three-year plan; Board minutes; Delegations etc.) and extensive interviews and subsequent feedback, Carrie and Neil identified where the Board operated at its best, and how small changes – such as a change in the monthly board agendas – would result in greater impact around strategic initiatives and risk imperatives. It was quickly evident that all Board members were determined to change their individual and collective ways of working. They outlined Board and Director development plans to help it shift and facilitated an honest and open discussion about Board member relationships and ability to challenge one another. Board Directors have responded proactively to the findings and feedback and implemented our recommendations.