Team Management Systems

What about Leadership Insurance?

By Peter Nankervis
Copyright © Lighthouse Corporate Coaching P/L. All rights reserved.

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Executive coaching, leadership development - I refer to it as "Leadership Insurance" - an investment made in the success of a new leader, in order to save potential costs and deliver tangible benefits to the business.

Introducing a new leader to a team can be a challenge and is even more difficult when they are brought on board to undertake a significant business transformation or deal with underperformance or disengaged staff. So with rapid change and a tight employment market, how can you "insure" success?

As an Executive Coach, I am often appointed to work with new managers and teams to help them work through change. In doing this, I have used the Team Management Systems suite of instruments to ease the transition and get new leaders best-situated to influence their team members.

The newly appointed manager is often faced with a difficult agenda for change right from the start - the pressures are well-known. They come in determined to stamp their mark on their new position and often don't have significant people management experience to draw on. Even with the best of intentions, they can 'ruffle feathers' with poor communication styles or micromanagement. The consequences can be quite negative for the people and business alike.

Recently I worked with a new leader internally appointed to manage an underperforming sales team. The team had a history of average performance against local market growth indicators. They were seen by others as ineffective, resistant and just 'cruising', with a 1980's culture of long lunches. The team members, however, felt they were going fairly well.There were also negative attitudes towards the previous manager, who was working under the new leader as a senior operator in the existing team.

Fortunately for the new leader, the company had the foresight to engage support, which involved individual leadership coaching sessions and a series of team sessions.

My first step was to create awareness of the gap between perceived performance and actual performance of the team, using the Strategic Team Development Profile (STDP).

With the survey results from the STDP, I was able to identify central issues for discussion in a facilitated team session. Using the data from the STDP initiated important discussions on how team members work together on processes and tasks. The result of these discussions was the development and adoption of action plans that had full 'buy-in' and commitment from team members. The facilitated sessions also uncovered issues between the existing leader and his colleagues that needed attention. These issues were addressed within the team and goals were re-evaluated, reworked and aligned with business expectations. At the same time, internal champions were selected to support the changes and rally positive momentum behind them.

To support the change process, I also used the Team Management Profile (TMP). The feedback from the Team Management Profile enabled the team members to understand themselves better and, more important, gain a deeper understanding of the capabilities of their team members. This insight proved valuable as it prompted discussion around what the team was expected to do and helped towards establishing role clarity and accountability.

Team sessions were run to address development areas for the team, provide recognition for positive successes and progress, and set short-term goals to instil a sense of urgency and accountability for results. These sessions were aligned with individual coaching sessions, supporting the new leader to:

  • Set clear direction and boundaries
  • Manage his people challenges
  • Attend to his own development needs
  • Build 'stepping stones' to continue to move the team in the chosen direction

After six months, the organization evaluated the progress and the CEO was delighted with the transformation. The business turnaround in those six months showed team revenue up 270% compared to the same period the previous year, and at 225% against current year budget - and these results were achieved with the same team members.

Reflecting on the whole process, the executive team reported seeing concrete outcomes including:

  • A more productive and higher performing team
  • A breakdown in barriers to communication between national and international business
  • A real sense of energy and shared purpose evident within the team
  • A team on the right track with a growth mindset

The new leader was appreciative of the company's investment and support, and the CEO's decision to support him through the transition was recognised by the whole team. Morale and the level of engagement within the team has lifted significantly.

With results like these, why don't more companies make an investment in Leadership Insurance?

Copyright © Lighthouse Corporate Coaching P/L. All rights reserved.

Peter is the Managing Director of Lighthouse Corporate Coaching. Previously he was the National Consulting and Training Manager for a major National Human Resources Consultancy and held State and National line management positions. He also worked globally for Watermen Worldwide previously with initial responsibility for Asia and then Regional Manager, Europe, Africa and the mid East. He is a member of The Sydney University Coaching and Mentoring association and presents on "Building High Performance Teams" as part of the Monash University Post Graduate business program.

For more information contact Peter Nankervis on +61 (0) 2 8215 5355 or visit

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