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Mentoring a senior Vice President

Culture shock


Says LeaderShape’s Danielle Grant: With the remuneration for a role at this level set at well over £100,000 per annum, executive search fees were more than £33,000. Targeting front-end investment on this important hire has shown real benefits for the company and the individual, resulting in stability, growth and returns that have now exceeded initial expectations.”

In 2005 a United States owned household name discount retail chain recruited a new Senior Vice President from another American-owned entertainment retailer. The move was to a firm that looked similar in terms of its cultural fit. The culture shock for the new hire, however, was profound; the role was much more American-focused than the more autonomous UK-centric culture they had known. Also, their function was seen as less pivotal to the overall business strategy than had been the case previously.

Says executive LJ

Had it not been for the mentoring provided by LeaderShape in those early days, it is unlikely that I would have stayed beyond 12 months at most. I had an exceptional coach with a deep ability to deliver the right combination of challenge and support to top executives. The process was highly commercial with a strongly honed sense of how to maximise individual potential.”

This Senior Vice President used the mentoring opportunity to identify ways to understand and navigate the political waters of the new organisation, making quick wins that would build their stock and that of their department. An added benefit was they found the mentoring provided them with improved energy levels and a sense of resourcefulness. Three years on, they have now moved to the U.S. to take up a global role with the same company – proving the power of precision support at the vulnerable new-hire stage.

Case Study: Success in first 100 Days


Transition for Senior Appointments

New senior executives represent a very significant investment and a major act of belief and trust. They are expected to be an instant success. The cost of an unsuccessful appointment can be huge in terms of direct impact on the business and for the individual in terms of their career. Within the first three months the new recruit must assimilate a new job, influence their team and create the right culture.  They must make an impact both upwards and downwards and review the business strategy. Senior executives get to top positions because they are bright, decisive, talented and experienced and they should have a clear idea of what they are expected to deliver. But the first 100 days are a surprisingly short time in which to make a mark and build those vital new relationships. It is a time which all too often becomes one of ‘learning by mistakes’ – a risk for all concerned.

Objective Support

The LeaderShape approach begins before the appointee starts and often involves:

  • Winning people over
  • Generating quick wins

  • Unravelling the politics
  • Key stakeholder & relationship mapping
Defining priorities and focus

  • Creating the desired climate

  • Successful transition

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.

For more information contact Danielle Grant on 0161 796 3333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

OLM's Case Study


Rapid Growth and Diversification of a Business.

LEADERSHAPE'S POWERFUL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT work energised Chief Executive, Peter O'Hara, of the OLM Group as he coped with exponential business growth, transferring knowledge from a public sector background to private sector enterprise.   

The impact of the programme enabled major transition from an SME (EU definition < 250 employees) to comprise over 300 staff to date.  The work helped push through what is often a ceiling created by the CEO because of lack of Emotional Intelligence, unlocking the future for OLM Group to grow even faster.

Client Profile:

Founded in 1991, Teddington based OLM Group develops class-leading IT software and support services for social care working with over a hundred Local Authorities and tens of thousands of practitioners. 

The Group has diversified substantially to add IT consultancy services Hytec and publishing arm, Pavilion - both well known in their markets.


Here are the Results!

  • The impact of a three-year LeaderShape programme helped OLM to become a £20 million business.
  • OLM now employs over 300 staff and has six hundred customers.
  • The business diversified, including developing two new start-ups from scratch in new markets and technologies.
  • Low staff turnover, high retention - including of a highly valued Senior colleague, who might have left much earlier.

In a telephone interview, Peter explains how his epiphany, during Leadership development, was learning how to use his innate Emotional Intelligence. 



Describing one very specific benefit of the learning, Peter explains how he retained a very senior colleague he valued enormously - and with whom relations had not been going well. 




Using a combination of individual coach mentoring and teaching facilitation skills, the programme focused on OLM as a rapidly growing company resulting in:


  • Crystallising self awareness
  • Understanding of a range of leadership style, to empower individuals to take initiative and decisions, enabling people to maximise their potential.
  • Using Emotional Intelligence techniques to “unblock” management issues.

 I gave myself permission to learn," says Peter "at a time when I had to choose to sell out or diversify a successful niche firm. I was not initially familiar with this kind of Leadership coaching process but came to value the reflective mirror it offered; LeaderShape's programme paid back massively, it stirred in me a latent ambition to do more and I developed the confidence to do acquisitions and work considerably outwith my comfort zone. "

See the results from our satisfied client testimonials here


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.

For more information contact LeaderShape on 0330 323 0275 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Case Study: CEO Peer Groups


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.

For more information contact Danielle Grant on 0161 796 3333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Testimonials - Merlin Mentor Training

Testimonials: Mentor Training Programme

"I had thought that I was a good business leader until my weaknesses were exposed by my LeaderShape coach/mentor trainer as we progressed through the syllabus of the coaching course. She is an inspirational coach and I now always refer to her for help and advise when facing new business situations."
Peter Soddy, Strategic Marketing Consultant and co-author of Sunday Times Enterprise Network ('97), Innovators Club ('02) and Telegraph Business Club ('04).

"I have found the Merlin Mentor training programme to be stimulating, it has helped me to widen my horizons from running my own business to applying my experience to helping others. The listening, questioning and reflecting techniques learned have provided a very useful basis for my mentoring tool kit."
Kay Murray, Director of an Electronics Co.

"The training and support aspects of the mentor training programme have been led and facilitated by LeaderShape. They have been professionally run, and provided us with practical tools and ideas to use in our mentoring. The sessions have always been relevant and fun, with a good balance of guidance, personal support and group interaction."
Keith Baldwin, Management Consultant.

"I learned a great deal from my LeaderShape coach, in particular how to use reflection to improve my mentoring and harness my own understanding of my modus operandi."
Maria Dramalioti, Taylor Technology Investor.

"During my mentor training my LeaderShape coach provided me with some vibrant and energetic thinking and reflecting time. Through clever use of questioning and appreciation of time management we have been able to unearth key issues quickly, debate them rationally, and most importantly formalise ways in which to solve them."
Matthew Porton, CEO Genesis Capital Plc.

"The major benefits of the Merlin mentor training course were help in identifying the kinds of approaches most relevant to new situations faced by those performing mentoring for the first time. I believe the training has helped me to assist the various companies I have mentored since."
Tim Bentley, Finance Director (retired), Pfizer Ltd.

"One thinks one knows how to do something, but it is not until shown by a professional that one realises all the gaps in one's knowledge and style and the rationale behind the actions one takes. Thank you so much for making it such an excellent course and I look forward to more tutoring and mentoring from you over the next 12 months."
Hugh Burnett OBE, DL, FCA Ex-Chairman Cash Bases

"Throughout the training programme the support provided by LeaderShape has been excellent. Your experience, wisdom and objectivity have been extremely valuable. The value of talking through problems and issues has been beneficial because you are able to discern things I have not become aware of – as is often the case with supervision!"
Mike Wilman, Senior Lecturer Southampton Business School.

"My LeaderShape coach/mentor was an excellent example; he was reliable, supportive, and importantly challenging. I had several companies to mentor who were hard work, frustrating and sometimes very annoying! But they were so rewarding when I could make a difference to their business."
Paul Sayers, Management Consultant.

"I would just like to say "thank you" and "well done" for the course last week. I thought it was a very high standard in the way it was organised, hosted, and run. On a personal level I feel that I benefited from it a lot, and hope to continue to learn more as the year progresses - it will do me a lot a good outside of the programme, and for that I am grateful. I would also like to congratulate you all in LeaderShape and of course SEEDA/FSE on the whole idea, the scheme, the course/the organisation and presentation, it was all extremely good."
William Pope, Chairman, IEG Technologies UK Limited.

"I found the Merlin Programme very helpful in understanding the difference between coaching/mentoring and being a non executive director or an adviser. I found the theory behind the learning helpful but the practical sessions were the best. I found all the people I have dealt with from LeaderShape to be very professional and constructive in the training process."
Nick Rodgers, Non Exec Director.


Find out More

Once trained these mentors mentor others. One of the biggest schemes LeaderShape are involved with is Merlin. Read on for testimonials from those who have benefited from this mentoring.
We focus firmly on the practical "how to" of leadership development: We develop your leadership capability through the coaching, mentoring and facilitation of individuals, groups and teams.
Call us on +44 (0)330 323 0275  or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for the leaders and future leaders of your organisation.




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