Play along and WIN the Corporate Game but take some risks with your team that really stretch those Possibilities …..

Those teams with the vision, drive and creative engineering mindset who designed and built Concorde in the 1960’s lived and chose to work in a World of Possibilities. They were not constrained by the past – time and time again, in my coaching practice, I come across people in all business sectors who refuse to follow the trends already set in their businesses

A Retail CASE STUDY – creating your own supersonic team performance:

Some years ago I worked with a client who was headhunted by a major retailer. For the sake of this example, let’s call her Helen. She joined the company in a major role in retail operations. Having already had experience of executive coaching in her previous company, she took us with her to support and challenge her without attachment, giving an outside independent view and input into her new role.

My role, as her external executive coach, was to support and challenge Helen to a) deliver the goods with amazing results within the existing context and b) to facilitate the exploration of a new context above and beyond that already envisaged.

At the time, the company was an extremely profitable and successful retail operation. It had grown exponentially over the previous 20 years into a dominant force, both on the high street and in out-of-town locations.

External executive coaches are uniquely positioned to deliver exactly against this kind of brief. The key ingredients any potential coaching buyer should consider are: 

  • Professional qualifications
  • A track-record with client testimonials in support 
  • A clear set of starting points – a foundation from which to build great RESULTS
  • A willingness to challenge and be held to account for the delivery of desired outcomes
  • Above all – a chemistry between the coach and coachee

Helen quickly found that the company had a ‘winning formula’ that relied heavily on process. There is nothing wrong with this approach – we all know of the advice to ‘stick to the knitting’ and this often holds true. However, the company was run very rigidly from the centre with the budgeting process driven on an incremental basis. Individual store managers, senior field managers and senior executives below director level were instructed (not encouraged) to add inflation to costs and a prescribed increment to revenue on an annualised basis. The only accepted deviation from this was either through major new competition opening, or cannibalisation from openings within the group as expansion was still rapid.

In effect they knew how to design and build Piston Engined Bi-planes and were ‘sticking’ with what they knew….

This approach had worked very well, but allowed very little leeway for individual managers, middle managers and senior operations executives to step into the entrepreneurial space i.e. no one was even allowed to think, let alone think about building their equivalent of Concorde.

Helen, with external support from me, saw things differently and immediately created two worlds for her area of operation:

  1. Outwardly across the business, she went along with the ‘process’ and diligently produced an incremental budget for each operation she was responsible for. She didn’t particularly like the culture of command and control, but went along with it. She made sure her ‘bi-planes’ were the best across all the divisions and made sure people knew this. Her teams were motivated to be the best but to stretch to bigger and better things – possibilities that others were not looking for.
  2. Internally, (within her team of circa 150 operations) she set out on a completely different journey. Whilst making the best ‘bi-planes’ and producing the best results to suit the needs of the command and control culture.

This second world is the one where the true leader stands out.

This new journey eventually produced results where sales grew by circa 20% and profits ‘soared’. The rest of the business looked on forlornly as they languished in the incremental world of inflation plus sales performance. Her people, by and large, loved working in this innovative, challenging and results-focused environment. She had set them free to think about and stand for the possibility of designing and flying their Concorde equivalent

Her colleagues in the rest of the country were left in her wake, so the command and control structure at head office had to sit up and take notice!

The key ingredients of this approach encompass:

  1. Being prepared to fly the corporate plane but occasionally completing some fancy loops i.e. really getting to understand the needs of the business and delivering them with panache that beats the internal competition.
  2. Enrolling and engaging your team, however large, in delivering the goods (building the basic product or, as in this case, bringing in the retail bacon) and, at the same time stretching to new and, as yet, unimagined horizons – bi-plane to Concorde.

Executive Coaching, set up correctly, can bring a fantastic return on investment – Helen’s career has since grown exponentially and yours could too!

If you’re interested in finding out what will help you have the maximum impact in your career within an existing or new role, call us at The Results Centre on 01858 414 240 or email