Coaching Stories


dear-prudence
True Story #1: Support newly-minted CEO

The Business Objective:
To transition a ‘hobby’ Board of directors into a strategy-setting organization willing to make transformative decisions even as the founder and former CEO now directly reported to the new CEO.

The Outcome:
The newly appointed CEO of this family-owned business completed a two-year, radical transformation of the business by increasing product and revenue mix by 43%, cutting overhead by 30%, and increasing customer satisfaction by 25% with the support of the Board.

The Story:
The Board of a New England, family-led software company knew that the intense competitive environment for their legacy solution required change. The founder/son of the family was unable to set a strategic direction that could navigate the commoditized waters. Therefore, they decided to replace him with an energetic outside executive with significant market experience. For the CEO, it was her first position as such. Therefore, she needed coaching to determine effective Board dynamics to secure approval for massive change within a short period of time. James worked with the CEO to: determine management techniques for the Board, create effective management technique for mitigating the founder’s role, and develop an experienced approach to being a first time CEO within a family-owned business.

 


enjoy sandwich
True Story #2: Manage start-up growth

The Business Objective:
To guide and coach a start-up team with a non-business founder towards profitable and sustainable growth within a volatile industry.

The Outcome:
At the end of the retainer phase of James’s assignment, the business had grown from 6-figure annual income to 8-figure income, had a management team of 5 executives leading 14 skilled employees (and a pool of part-timers) working on projects for organizations as diverse as Fortune 500 companies and non-profits.

The Story:
When James first started working with the Founder, this Mid-Atlantic business was not quite a year old and had only four employees. Although the founder was expert in his field and passionate about his work, he lacked business experience and the confidence to make practical management decisions. The coaching trick was to keep his feet on the ground while maintaining his passion so that he could attract both appropriate clients and suitable employees.

 


speeding
True Story #3: Balance strategic and leadership skills

The Business Objective:
To better utilize the experience and talents of a star VP by strengthening her strategic leadership skills without diminishing her critical executive management role. (A secondary objective: to demonstrate that the VP is on track for her next promotion.)

The Outcome:
With guidance from James, the VP clarified her five key measures of success. These helped her to distance herself from operational issues and to shift from ‘problem-solver-managing-consultant’ mode to strategic thinker able to develop, grow and mentor smart people.

The Story:
A VP at a major IT organization was previously a senior consultant for one of the Big Three. She had to adapt her style from proving to clients how good she was at solving their problems to a style which would help her subordinates to develop their own skills while making meaningful contributions. Achieving this shift is easier said than done because the VP operates in a very hi-tech, volatile environment bridging the gap between IT experts and demanding users in big financial institutions. In these circumstance, many executives fall into the micro-managing trap – because it delivers results in the short-term.

 


Meeting
True Story #4: Effect Rapid Organization Change

The Business Objective:
To guide and coach a new CEO and failing executive team through a turnaround from bankruptcy.

The Outcome:
Achieved within 18 months the successful return to profitability of the bankrupt retail chain of 185 stores in 5 countries.

The Story:
The company, a publically traded, international retailer had been given a brief stay of execution by a bankruptcy judge. The previous management, grandchildren of the original founders, had been ousted by the new majority shareholder. The newly appointed CEO did not have much time to demonstrate that the business, and the thousands of jobs it provided, could be saved.

James was appointed by the investment group to work directly with the new CEO to effect the turnaround. As the business required major change to return it to profitability, James worked with the executives (some old, some new) to evaluate their roles and contributions. Once improvement was evident, the business was bought by a major retail group. During the acquisition and integration phases, James worked with each executive on the transition. This created the foundation for what became a highly focused, action oriented, and ultimately a successful management team.

 


president-precedent
True Story #5: Re-engage CEO to re-focus a shrinking business

The Business Objective:
To stabilize a shrinking business by guiding the CEO to re-engage directly without alienating his key executives with his new forceful and demanding style.

The Outcome:
The downward spiral was halted, mainly because the CEO quickly modified his leadership style to managing a smaller, less profitable business: he changed his strategic thinking (implemented a results-based short-term plan), adapted his operational approach (reduced costs; cut executive salaries; shrunk staff), and boosted new business development to grow revenue.

The Story:
Multiple changes in the industry had forced this Mid-Atlantic business, as well as its competitors and clients throughout the USA, to adapt, all with varying degrees of success. The company had shrunk substantially in terms of revenue – this was the bad news. At the same time, the company had shrunk in terms of costs and people – relatively, this was the good news, for it meant that it had adjust better than most. However, it was not quite the same company it had been a mere two years earlier and now needed a different leadership and management style to stay profitable and to rebuild.