Dr. Tracy Cocivera, Head of Executive and Team Coaching Services in Canada, and Eric Beaudan, Global Head of the Leadership Advisory Practice, explain how they are using systemic team coaching to help the leadership team of a US-based aerospace company reinvent its business model.
Most senior leadership teams are adept at dealing with singular business challenges like developing a new product for a specific market. Where they struggle is working as a team when confronted with outsized business challenges, for example, when entire supply chains were uprooted during the pandemic.
These types of business challenges require the senior team to address gaps between its operating groups that were once brushed off as non-critical, and are now key to transforming the business.
One such organization was a US-based division of a large European aerospace company, whose order book reduced drastically during the pandemic. The team decided to bring in an external CEO to restore confidence, win new contracts, and help steer the organization as a new structure was implemented.
Odgers Berndtson Canada helped the CEO and the Executive Committee (ExCom) come together, find some wins, and work their way through the new structure. Using Systemic Team Coaching as an organizing framework, we helped redesign the business unit’s operating model, restore trust among the leadership team, and aided the CEO in shifting the leaders’ mindsets to become more agile and entrepreneurial.
Among the new CEO’s list of short-term priorities was stabilizing and adjusting the organization, clarifying product strategy, win new bookings, and imagining and delivering the future.
The new CEO's immediate task was implementing a new structure and operating model. Rather than originating the new design himself, which he suspected would not get the buy-in of his team, the CEO asked his direct reports to nominate a group of directors to form a cross-functional design team. The CEO provided general guidance to the team for what the new structure should enable the organization to accomplish. This exercise was a mindset shift for the ExCom, who needed to trust their direct reports to develop design recommendations and rethink how the business created value for customers and the holding company.
Odgers Berndtson also facilitated a monthly series of Leadership Labs to help the ExCom shift their leadership and build more trust and collaboration within the team. Becoming part of the ExCom’s change agenda, the Labs helped the team align and feel energized about their vision and future, agree on how they were going to execute their priorities, and share feedback on how they were collectively leading through this demanding change process. Using our proprietary Leadership Scan and based on our research, the ExCom showed strength in demonstrating visible leadership, while needing to sharpen its ability to take bold action, have candid dialogue, and define clear roles and accountabilities.
The ExCom worked hard to get clarity and alignment on their vision, co-create team agreements, and empower and coach the design team. A new iteration of the Leadership Scan showed a significant improvement in the level of buy-in to the strategy and culture change among the ExCom’s direct reports. This provided validation that the organisation’s vision and restructure were understood and working, and provided critical feedback to the team at various points along their journey, which facilitated team insights and buy-in to team coaching.
The restructure also required each ExCom member to expand their leadership as individual leaders moved into new roles. To help each ExCom member quickly adjust to their new roles and working relationships, we coached them over six months. This helped the ExCom to articulate any gaps and modifications in the new structure, as well as identifying potential candidates. We also helped them with communication and change support.
With the new structure in place, the ExCom then focused on taking its collective team leadership to the next level. The team identified three mission-critical challenges:
- Improving a key internal stakeholder relationship.
- People and talent investment.
- Execution and management.
At the same time, they focused on adopting new team behaviors, such as a bias for speed, passion to get it right the first time, being curious and digging deep, taking smart risks, and keeping it simple. This helped the ExCom to share their learnings from our team coaching journey with their teams and empower them to be more aligned and collaborative with cross-functional teams.
After one year of implementing these changes, the company won a significant contract affirming its new direction and competitive prowess. The leadership team learned to challenge itself and rise above old behavioral patterns to foster a more candid and customer-focused culture, as well as take risks and make faster decisions. Employee attrition reduced significantly, and employee engagement returned to a healthier zone. The team’s focus has now moved to leading with innovation and executing complex global contracts with a 'first-time right' attitude.
To find out how Systemic Team Coaching can support your organization, contact our authors, get in touch with us here, and you can also find your local Odgers Berndtson contact here.
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