Sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons. Three years ago a client of mine, who I am going to call Jim, did just this. He had an opportunity to access some government-funded leadership training which he took up enthusiastically. Having prospered through two recessions, Jim knows instinctively the importance of managing costs and he wasn’t going to let any “free money” pass him by.
Jim is a talented salesman and businessman who knows how to cut a deal. He is technically savvy and understands the difference between cost and value. All of these skills have been acquired on-the-job as the business has grown over the last twenty years.
Jim’s Achilles’ heel was leadership. At times people were plain scared of him; fearful of a public dressing-down and occasionally fearful for their jobs. The irony of this is that, when you get to know him, Jim has a very soft centre. The trouble was that he hid it so well from most of those around him.
The leadership training and coaching was interesting. We started with Myers-Briggs, which went pretty well and confidently moved on to a 360 – the Human Synergistics Life Styles Inventory. That’s when the trouble started! Unlike those around him, Jim was unprepared to accept that his thinking style was primarily aggressive defensive. I remember clearly how he initially rejected his profile before speaking with others and reluctantly accepting the findings. This was when Jim realised that for the business to continue growing he needed to change.
And change he has. Over the last three years, Jim’s leadership skills have flourished and he is getting a real kick out of developing his top team. He no longer has to make all of the decisions and call all of the shots.
The business continues to grow in spite of the tough economic conditions and succession plans are evolving at a steady pace, enabling the the business to continue to provide more jobs and generate more profit. Meanwhile Jim can contemplate a comfortable retirement, punctuated with plenty of motor-boating and motorcycling.