Competitive Advantage for Business
After peer coaching, this business tripled in size in five years and established long-term international growth potential. It became very profitable and was sold to a listed company for a premium price.
CEO peer groups can help you achieve distinct competitive advantage. LeaderShape has been running these valuable forums for many years, driving executive development.
PATRICK HOOKER, THE CEO and controlling shareholder of a specialist scientific instruments SME, became a member of a high level peer group to help him develop growth in his business. He provided the critical technical expertise within the business but had no previous formal business training.
The business comprised international sales of very sophisticated one-off specialist electro-mechanical systems, which often required significant technical input for installation and subsequent support. The CEO had been focusing on resolving technical challenges and innovating new techniques. Delegating technical and operational authority and decision making was poor.
He shared experiences and challenges with other CEO members of a peer group over a number of years. He fully engaged with self- awareness and leadership development activities, including a specialist Emotional Intelligence profiling tool called LEIPA, which made Patrick more conscious of personal issues in dealing with and developing his top team. Many of his sessions covered his working relationships with his major shareholder partner and key managers. Key behaviours that were successfully addressed included the need to improve communication and dialogue with his senior team so they could take on more responsibility, and the need to reduce the company’s reliance on the CEO’s technical know-how, which needed to be systematically recorded as each product was developed or improved. This is not an uncommon scenario that frequently inhibits business potential.
Benefits of the Peer Group
Participation in the group enabled Patrick to become more aware of how much potential there was for business growth, what it would take to achieve this and to how to realise some personal wealth by eventually selling the business. This included standardising the product range and associated technology, improved systemisation of internal procedures, and development and implementation of a long- term growth strategy. The latter required him to reduce his excessive focus on operations and problem-solving, so he could fulfil a more effective strategic leadership role. This required a conscious plan for the development of a senior management team and executive board, supported by a strong middle-management team that could take care of the day-to-day operations and sustain the growth momentum without his regular involvement.
Key learning points from this experience included:
The formal leadership assessment processes brought to the surface behavioural issues that would otherwise have probably remained unspoken and never properly addressed.
The CEO was in his late 50s when he joined the group. Age is not a barrier to behavioural change if there is the right attitude and sufficient will to respond to identified leadership needs.
Moving out of a long-term ‘control’ position in an organisation to one of proper delegation can be very difficult. This can be achieved by taking many small steps rather than dramatic change, thereby matching the scope of delegation to the ability of people to cope with it. Regular communication and dialogue are critical.
LeaderShape Coach/Mentors all have direct experience at senior levels, often as MDs and CEOs. They are able to support appointees with a real, objective understanding of the issues – for the benefit of your business.