Reframing the role

How we helped a client transition to a senior position within a FTSE100 business

A marketer in a major financial services organisation had recently been promoted into a senior leadership position. The new role had a wider remit, a geographically dispersed team, and was accountable for revenue targets associated with the conference side of the business. After a few months in the role, feedback started to come in about her behaviour in meetings and her lack of ability to get the best out of her team.

A technical person by nature, she liked to be in the detail; intelligent and fast-thinking with a very analytical approach to issues. Having been very successful as an individual contributor and middle manager, this transition into senior leadership was proving difficult for her. She could not let go of the detail, using a ‘tell’ style with her team and being seen as a micromanager as a result. This impacted her relationship with her senior stakeholders as the majority of her time was spent managing downwards.

Through coaching, we uncovered that what was ultimately driving her behaviour was fear of failure. Once we had explored this, she understood that her need to be in the detail was a form of maintaining control and yet, it was creating a culture of mistrust in her team. She also came to see that whilst people admired her experience and ability, her ‘tell’ style was disempowering her team, leading to poor engagement and poor work output which only reinforced her need to be in the detail and in control. She felt she couldn’t trust her team to perform so had to micromanage. When in all actuality it was her management style and fixation on the detail that was causing her team to underperform.

Following six, two-hour coaching sessions over six months, she developed a more engaging style with her team, really taking the time to get to know them, their management preferences and what motivates them. Feedback from her team and her manager indicated that her interpersonal and people leadership skills had improved significantly.

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