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Case Study 3: Coaching and Aligning a Team

The Chairman of the Board of a biotech company
had fires to put out quickly. The company was floundering. Board members and the management team had fundamentally different ideas about the strategy and direction of the company. The chasm was so severe that the CEO suddenly resigned. Staff morale was low, some of the key employees were already thinking about moving one. Top management knew they would have to retain its employees, cut costs dramatically and improve operational efficiency to succeed.

The challenge for the board chair was, as an outsider, to mediate the differences between the board and the management team and lead them to develop a cohesive, workable strategy followed by a clear execution plan. He then needed to persuade the board to get out of the way to let the team execute without their micromanagement. He had significant industry and operational expertise, yet he was hindered by his style. His usual way of leading teams was to be a "guru" as the individuals made their cases to him. Then he decided on a course of action. He realized that in this case he had to help the group work together as a cohesive team; he had to be a bridge-builder and a connector.

We began by co-facilitating initial board and management team meetings.
We saw that some of the individuals were strongly at odds, and worked with them in pairs to get them on common ground. We developed specific tools for him to use that gave him more range and breadth in his leadership style and enhanced his strengths and those of the team. The chairman practiced and mastered a new leadership style and got the board and management team to align to create a well-thought out strategy and plan for the company. With this new plan in place and working, the company began to turn around. Early wins, as well as a process which engaged everyone, created a new spirit and reinvigoration in the management team and board.