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A CXO Resets Her Leadership

Case Study #6
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The Challenge

The team of a CXO for a major healthcare plan was responsible for an overly cautious forecast that set the whole company into panic. Even though the projections didn’t come to pass, they still caused significant stress on the business side of the organization.

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The Work

In talking to the CEO, key peers, and direct reports, Jo sought to understand how this leader ran her organization, and what changes she needed to make to be successful. What were the guidelines she set for decision making? How were they working? Jo worked with the leader, her manager, and Human Resources to assess the leader’s strengths and create a development plan, identifying the top areas of focus that would make the biggest difference.

Over the course of an initial six-month engagement, a picture emerged of a talented, accomplished leader whose fast-paced style tended to overwhelm and overpower the people on her team. What’s more, her technical background was causing some leaders on the business side to downplay her contributions and get the impression she wasn’t getting their challenges.

Using bi-monthly meetings and ongoing check-ins with key peers and direct reports, Jo worked with this leader on the area of Developing Your Influence. Together, they explored different ways of relating with and influencing others. Jo also attended meetings with the leader’s direct reports, in order to give real-time constructive feedback and coaching.

“I’m more effective now and have completely changed how I lead.”

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The Result

This leader dramatically changed how she interacted with her team. She instituted strategic step backtime each week, to give herself time to recognize patterns and to build enterprise thinking. She increased meetings with direct reports from once a month to once a week. With this newfound attentiveness, she ended up letting go of one of her direct reports who was unwilling to change and work constructively with her. The replacement she hired was better equipped to develop others on an even larger team. Additionally, she got another direct report promoted to VP.

This organization used a management quality index to measure how well a manager leads through change, as judged by their direct reports and peers. Initially, this leader ranked in the 60th percentile. After the first six months, the organization opted to continue support for another year. By the end of that time, this leader was in the 100th percentile. Along the way, other business teams came to value her big picture understanding of the business so much, they called on her to lead new strategic areas within their top priorities.