How often do we make instantaneous judgments based upon our beliefs and cultural bias without stopping to reflect on the situation at hand? Why do we jump to conclusions without truly listening to what is being said? Why don't we trust others' opinions and assume we know the real truth? How often have you misinterpreted a colleague's questioning glance or heavy sigh and in turn made the wrong decision based upon your false assumptions? Why do we let our emotions and feelings get the best of us and cloud our ability to make sound decisions?
The answer to these questions lay in our understanding of how our brain works and how it can distort the logic of our thinking and decision making. By learning the techniques to control our minds and avoid these kinds of misconceptions and hasty judgments we become more adept at resolving conflicts with new insights, coping with uncertainty, reducing stress and improving communication. All these factors, coupled with other effective leadership development strategies, will produce exceptional leaders.
The examples below illustrate how ECI has used these tools to assist executives and their teams become the kind of leaders capable to resolve the myriad of challenges affecting their organizations.
Board & Shareholder Intervention with CEO
ECI guided a Fortune 50 Board of Directors (BOD) to resolve a highly publicized corporate scandal. The BOD felt enormous pressure to respond swiftly to media accusations and to its shareholders' outcry for accountability and legal recourse. Through the use of action learning techniques, ECI coached board team members to resist the inclination to react emotionally and impulsively and instead helped them to identify and resolve company impropriety, judiciously. Through thoughtful and tough deliberations the Board concluded that the company’s CEO had to resign and that new ethical standards and socially-valuable initiatives needed to be implemented immediately.
Impact of Differing Generational Perspectives on Corporate Performance
ECI assisted CEO of financial services firm to help identify motive for large employee turnover and its subsequent negative impact on profitability. Through one on one coaching of the CEO, his team and a younger group of executives, what surfaced was the existence of an unspoken schism between the baby boomers and the emerging leaders. The more senior baby boomers could not keep pace with this younger generation’s technological savvy or understand their different, yet efficient, work schedules. They were threatened by the younger executives' confidence and compensated for it by distancing themselves from them.
The younger executives, in turn, interpreted the baby boomers' aloofness as dissatisfaction with their output and felt unappreciated for the hard work and long hours they put in. They assumed they lacked the skills necessary to succeed at the company and resisted asking for help. They feared such disclosure would corroborate the senior executives beliefs and be perceived as weakness. The result was that these gifted young executives preferred the arduous chore of looking for a new job rather than facing up to the CEO and his team.
ECI brought the two groups together and helped them establish an honest and open exchange exposing their respective concealed fears and unfounded assumptions. After these discussions they started working as a unified group and shared their knowledge base with one another.
ECI proposed and helped structure a reorganization of the company, away from a top down management style, to a more horizontal one. This new corporate set up fostered a collaborative environment which combined the younger, emerging leaders' confidence and technological dexterity with the senior group’s experience and patience. The results were remarkable, turnover ceased and the company’s revenues sky rocketed.
Merger and acquisition diversity and gender bias
Through coaching and workshops, ECI successfully facilitated senior executives at a biotechnology firm to adapt to changes resulting from corporate merger and acquisition activities. The latest acquisition created enormous strife within the company, the result of which was a sizeable drop in employee productivity. The subsequent ramifications showed up in the depletion of their inventories and with it, the elimination of their anticipated competitive advantage in the global market place.
The acquiring company prided itself on having a diverse work force and bristled at the new employees’ reluctance to work with either women or with people from certain ethnic backgrounds. Through one on one and group coaching sessions, role playing, cross cultural orientation and mentoring, ECI helped the acquired company’s executives become sensitized to their behavior and learn to value all employees, regardless of race or gender. ECI facilitated the implementation of a woman’s leadership program and a diversity training initiative, both of which remain positive influences on the company’s culture to this day.
Differing International Business Norms
ECI provided consulting services and coaching for a CFO from a US financial institution before, during and after his two year assignment in Asia. The CFO was sent overseas to align the joint venture (JV) partner’s financial, ethical and environmental standards with those practiced in the US. This was a difficult assignment since bribery was a staple of doing business there and pollution barely noticed. The CFO devised a skillful plan during our coaching sessions, to deal with this challenging assignment.
In the first phase, while overseas, he worked directly with the JV senior executives to ensure they had a thorough understanding of and accountability for enforcing US corporate standards to their operations. Second, to fortify this initial phase, the CFO included a tour of duty for these same executives at US headquarters which included one on one coaching for these foreign executives to help them adjust to corporate norms. Upon the CFO’s return to the States, he implemented his third phase, which included the vigilant overseeing of the JV’s business practices to ensure its continued consistency. This three phase approach worked to secure a financially and ethically aligned partnership which increased their ability to attract money in the capital markets and further expand their operations.