March 19, 2012

Real business world

Is coaching a manager or a CEO to a leadership theory an easy job?

I don't think so Imagine how hard it will be if you just go to an organisation and tell the manager to change his leadership style while he is working there for more than 10 years. Do you think he is going to listen to you? Do you think he is going to apply whatever you say and be effective?

If you manage to make him listen to you be prepared on what you are going to say and how you are going to support your opinion because he will challenge your view and opinion based on his personal experience in working with people. And if you do not have an experience in working as a leader, try to benefit from the conversation as well.

While you think of leadership theories try to imagine real facts and companies and how this theories could help.

Why is that important?

Because everything we study, learn and build knowledge on, they may, if not for sure, apply and work differently in real business world.

So what we can do is to try and put our knowledge in a real business framework with all the problems and challenges this contains because that's reality.


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  1. Daniella Abena Badu

    I think for the coaching “theory” to work, the CEO must first acknowledge that he needs it not just to benefit himself but for the benefit of the entire organisation. Then he must be committed to the process, but I dont see coaching working in a scenario whereby the consultant goes to the CEO and tells him to change his behavioural style, If care is not taken the CEO may display a more adverse behaviour style towards the consultant.

    21 Mar 2012, 23:17

  2. Fotini Savva

    I partialy agree with you that the CEO should be committed but imagine that for our scenario the CEO is the one who invited the consultant to the company but also the consultant won’t just say you need to change your leadership style. But will find some different ways to support his opinion and make the CEO realise the importance of changing and implementing a leadership theory.

    22 Mar 2012, 19:24

  3. Max Hammond

    You touch on a range of issues here, which all conspire to make the situation very complex:
    • What is the interaction between personal development of the CEO and organisational development? The CEO stamps their personality on the whole organisation, and have been selected by the board for their personality and experience (essentially).
    • Consultancy engagements are rarely sponsored by the CEO (at least in organisations that are large enough to really need a C-suite). More often, it’s someone with more functional responsibilities.
    • Consultants (at least for content consultancy like you’re describing) don’t usually tell a client what to do – decision making remains with the client, we just support these decisions.
    • Persuading a client to take your outputs (or advice) seriously is part of the job. It comes with experience, and understanding what your client needs – do they want a dry analytical report about organisational structure and reporting lines, or do they want to talk things over over dinner? This is, in the end, an interpersonal relationship between consultant and stakeholders, including the client.

    You’re spot on in saying that you need to put your theoretical learning in the real business context – that’s why you’d be engaged, rather than the client just picking up a book!

    In my experience, the kind of mentoring you’re describing is more valuable to mid-level managers than C-suite. It can also be very valuable in the public sector, where the relationship between managers and the organisations they lead are somewhat different.

    23 Mar 2012, 08:59

  4. Fotini Savva

    Thank you for your comments Max, they were very informative because I actually don’t have any experience with consultancy.

    However, the scenario that I was talking about was a small business where the CEO was the owner of the company.

    I know that consulting is something more than just transfer your knowledge to the client. For a cosultancy to be valuable for the company it has to be based on their needs and their people, is basically selling ideas. And for achieving it you need to see it more in a practical way than a theorytical way.

    But I’m really interested in your opinions and I would like to share with me your experiences if you want that as well! Also, can you please explain what C-suite and mind-level managers mean for you?

    23 Mar 2012, 20:27

  5. Max Hammond

    Hi,
    The C-suite are the officers of the company, whose titles are usually of the form Chief XXX Officer. CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO, COO and any number of specific roles. Not all large organisations use this structure, but many do.
    Your scenario makes a lot more sense in the context of a small business – although you open up a set of new problems. As ever, so much depends on the CEO (who I’d normally to expect to take the title Managing Director in a small biz). There is often a very high pressure on them to run the company, rather than lead the company. Many (most?) small business managers are strongly entrepreneurial, and have a clear idea of their direction – rightly or wrongly! It often takes some form of crisis for things to start changing. Engaging consultants for organisational change (or leadership development) is not cheap, and not every organisation needs it. “Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow” by Larry E. Griener (1972) is one of the seminal papers describing crises of growth – worth a read.
    From my perspective, the best time to coach people in leadership is while they’re developing their skills. As ever, it’s much much easier to teach someone something new, rather than to change something they already know. For leadership (as opposed to management), this tends to come once they start taking on some strategic responsibilities – so perhaps on promotion to VP or Head of Department, or possibly to team leader: it really depends on the organisation. These are the mid-level managers I had in mind.
    I hope that’s an interesting insight from the Real World[tm] :-)

    26 Mar 2012, 07:28

  6. Fotini Savva

    Hi,
    Yes that was a really interesting insight actually! Thank you!! :-) Are you working in a consulting company?

    26 Mar 2012, 10:05

  7. Rogelio

    Great points by Max, I could not have said it better.

    It is incredible how big companies differ in “management” than small companies. Surely, there is the size element to take into account which makes the smaller businesses more flexible and less resistant to change but I believe that it is the day-to-day contact with the end-consumer that truly gives the “real business” feel to a manager/CEO/owner. This feel is only attainable by being in the trenches and listening to the customer.

    I have come across some brilliant small business owners who, precisely due to this contact with the end-consumer, are much wiser in their business running decisions than the top execs of many firms. The thing is, these small business owners either don’t have the financial means to grow larger or just simply don’t want to grow larger.

    All the best.

    Rogelio
    From the Manly Curls blog
    http://www.manlycurls.com/

    29 Mar 2012, 22:43


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