CEO and Business Coaching
CEO In Hiding
Rosemary Block had been president of Miflex Manufacturing, which had operated profitably for 20 years.
In 2007, the company suffered a significant loss. Rosemary was unfamiliar with how to deal with the shock of such an issue and became withdrawn and uncommunicative. She was brilliant and could manage money with great skill, but this event brought her to a dead stop. She ceased communicating with her staff and providing the leadership they needed. Essentially holed up in her office out of fear, the organization was floundering.
A major stakeholder contacted Michael Whatmore about coaching Rosemary. In an intensive effort to rekindle her passion and drive, Michael began by running sales, production and staff meetings and generally modelling executive behavior. As the weeks unfolded, Rosemary stepped up fairly quickly and took over the leadership of these meetings. Regaining courage and confidence, these meetings quickly overtook her complacency. Conversations about vision, where the company was headed, how individual team members could contribute and what achievements the business was experiencing made persistence worthwhile and more milestones possible.
Throughout the process, Rosemary found solid ground on which to stand in order to make sound decisions and implement the necessary changes for the survival of the company. When Michael began working with this individual, the company had suffered a $270,000 loss; by the next year end, they had turned a slight profit and rounded the corner.
Rosemary’s attitude had turned the corner as well. She realized that she did not want to lead a team any longer and decided to sell the business. With Michael’s help, the business was sold, the buyer retained Rosemary and the business continued to flourish.
Oftentimes, coaching can help improve leadership roles; other times, it can clear the way and lead us in a new direction. In any case, the change is positive.
Vision Too Small
Bob Ruskin, a well-educated and skilled property manager, is president of Barclay PM. He considers his organization a “boutique” business rather than a “big” busines.
Bob’s perspective was getting in the way of growth. The sales cycle is long in this type of business. By the time Barclay PM was presenting a proposal, his salesperson had already spent eight to 10 months creating rapport with the potential client and establishing a relationship sufficient to garner an invitation to meet. Bob’s notion was to show up at these presentation meetings on his own or with an assigned property manager; however, Bob’s competitors would arrive at prospect meetings with a team of several people. Bob’s belief that he was “small time” made him appear that way to potential clients, which decreased their confidence in his ability to perform and meet their needs. Too often, lucrative accounts signed with a competitor.
Working with Michael Whatmore, Bob Ruskin realized that his view of Barclay PM was restricting his ability to compete in the marketplace. He was encouraged to bring his team of specialists, including salespeople, to presentation meetings. Michael coached Bob on how to orchestrate a presentation with his key players in ways that support and contribute to the value of Barclay PM proposals. This small and simple change shifted the company paradigm, and landing deals that would otherwise have been out of reach became possible. The high quality of their work was augmented by their new approach: They looked and acted well organized, like a company worthy of doing business. Now, Barclay PM gets the attention of the decision makers and closes more contracts.
What is your perception of your company?
Do you think that your actions and leadership skills restrict your competitive position?
How could running your business become easy and effortless?
Earl Nightingale, motivational speaker and author, said, “The mind moves us in the direction of our currently dominant thoughts.” With coaching, sound advice and support, you can change how you think — and how others think of you.
Listening & Being Heard
Matt Kroger is a mid-level executive with great potential.
Matt was told by the chairman and a vice president of his company that he had a “communications problem” and needed to get a coach. Although thoughtful, his communication style was different. He used fewer words than most people to describe situations and frequently became impatient when others misunderstood him or failed to follow his direction.
Throughout the coaching process, Michael Whatmore dissected situations and apparent miscommunications in his daily work, such as, “Who said what? What was the reaction? How did you respond? What was said? What was the demeanor of the other person? What was their body language?” Michael and Matt reconstructed these conversations and crafted a toolbox of responses, which were more productive and appropriate for business use. Practice, coaching and more practice led to significant improvement in Matt’s communication skills.
The shift was quite dramatic. It became apparent how Matt’s messaging style affected others and how others felt and respected him. Matt became better at working with a wider variety of people and driving his projects to success more rapidly. The board also recognized this shift in talent, offering Matt promotions as chief executive officer and then president — top positions in which communication skills are vital.
Brian Dobbs dreamed of owning his own company, but it was barely breaking even.
A cellular phone rings with a shrill tone. The ring and its volume stem from an employee’s personal telephone, now at a crisis point for Brian. The ring was certainly piercing and annoying, much like his employee’s voice: “It’s driving me crazy!” This behavior was disruptive and probably driving customers away.
The first step of solution was realizing that the ring tone was not the problem. This business owner was trying to control every minute detail of his organization’s daily operations. He was unable to concentrate on actually building it. The pressure of trying to both run and trying to work in his company was overwhelming him.
Michael helped the business owner revamp its organizational structure to include a general manager position. The GM took over the details – including the phone calls – and provided the owner with the time and energy to work on vision and strategy.
Today, the owner has time to go surfing and play tennis, secure in the knowledge that his business is running effectively and efficiently. He has implemented a sound structure and freed himself from day-to-day handling of the company.