Topsail Group, LLC

Case Histories: Executive Coaching

Case: 1 2 3
  • “A Chief Strategy Officer that seemingly needed more focus”

    Situation

    The CEO asked Topsail Group to coach a highly intelligent Chief Strategy Officer of a USA division of an international company and make him even more productive. The CEO believed the CSO should be more focused in his approach to his team and his role as a member of the Executive Management Team. Although he was an out-of-the-box performer, he gave the unfortunate impression of being scattered and somewhat disorganized.

    Solution

    Topsail Group did not agree totally with the assessment of this individual. He was well organized and focused, but he was so intelligent he viewed every project and the solution differently; he was a deep and quick thinker who simply saw too many alternatives. This frustrated his colleagues mostly because they did not understand his approach or the depth of his thinking. Topsail Group developed an Executive Coaching Program lasting 4 months initially, but the coaching went so well it was extended for another 4 months. During that 8 month program, the coaching followed the Topsail Executive Coaching System TARPA; Topsail: Assessment, Reflection, Prognosis and Action Plan. In this particular case, concentration was on the following: studying recent performance reviews, Topsail Personality Profiling, Topsail Positioning System, evaluating accomplishments, direct feedback sessions about how he thought he was doing, and what he basically believes when it comes to work. Some of these sessions were held in the office, home of the employee, and home of the Topsail coach. It was important for this individual to like and relate to his coach. Assignments were difficult; TEAMWORK was considered the highest form of success. Other sessions on being focused: how to handle distractions, interruptions, keeping his staff focused and committed to deliver on time, being proactive, managing expectations, time management, project leadership, suggestions on how to make more effective PowerPoint presentations, developing a better relationship with each management member and the CEO. He also provided goals, created a personal mission statement, a job description, roles and responsibilities, identified his top priorities and placed all his current projects in the Covey quadrants and identified and concentrated on his style of leadership. The Topsail coach also attended his staff meetings and also met with his staff individually. There were also joint sessions with the CEO, the coach and the Executive.

    Results

    This executive eventually left this company; but not before he made more major contributions. He has used his experience to leverage a new position as CMO of a company in the same business category. Within a year at this new company, he was promoted to the Chief Operating Officer. The Topsail coach and this Executive remain friends and often see each other to assess both professional and personal achievements.

  • “An internally trained CFO who needed to grow”

    Situation

    The CFO of this company had been at the company for over 20 years. While he was an excellent financial professional and hard working operator, the CEO believed he needed to be formally trained as a top tier CFO, benefiting from best practices used by other comparable companies. Further, this executive had been on extended sick leave and his re-entry seemed like a good time to review the best way to run his department. CEO asked Topsail Group to address these issues as well as helping this Executive be a better communicator, a stronger leader of his team and a more active member of management.

    Solution

    As in any coaching assignment the selection of the coach is complicated; just because a coach is hired that is no guarantee that the individual will respect and agree that it is a meaningful relationship. We encourage our clients to evaluate whether or not our coaches fit the bill. At the beginning of this 8 month engagement there was a good deal of testing before actual work began. But once the Topsail Coach was accepted it went smoothly. The Executive Coaching program TARPA (Topsail: Assessment, Reflection, Prognosis and Action Plan) was used with this Executive. In this case the executive had excellent skills but was very detailed and while intelligent, communicated more remotely and sometimes obliquely than in person. Also after meeting with his team individually, they sometimes misunderstood him because of communication style. While many issues were addressed the concentration was on clarity and simplification of communications as well as understanding and managing the expectations of the CEO.

    Results

    The CFO became a stronger member of the management team, a stronger leader and a less “formal” manager. In the past his team thought he was aloof and less approachable, but after the coaching this improved dramatically. Further, he increased his interactions with his team two fold, had many department meetings, lunches and coffee sessions which added to his approachability. CEO was pleased with his performance. This CFO recently left the company and is functioning as a CFO with a higher salary and more responsibility.

  • “Executive coaching: when another company buys your division”

    Situation

    The Consumer Division of a large USA pharmaceutical company was being sold to another global pharmaceutical company as part of a new strategic initiative. After the purchase was announced, eleven key executives of the acquired division (one living overseas) were given an opportunity to earn positions at the acquiring company if they interviewed successfully and “fit” into the new company culture and operating style.

    Solution

    Topsail Group was engaged to help prepare and coach the executives for their upcoming meetings and interviews with their new employer. Topsail Group first identified each executive’s leadership, management, communication skills and operating style; the second step was to assess how they would fit into the new company. This project was a group job search, complete with executive positioning, summary of achievements and documentation. Among other items, the following executive diagnostic tools were used: Topsail Personal Inventory (TPI) to help evaluate the executive’s skills and operating styles; Topsail Anchoring System (TAS) to uncover key variables for success; Topsail Personality Profile (TPP) to help understand and establish business relationships; and Topsail Positioning System (TPS) to position, navigate, and chart process and progress. Hands-on, interactive workshops and numerous follow-up, one-on-one sessions were customized to address the needs of each executive.

    Results

    Several of the executives successfully completed the meetings and interviews and were offered comparable positions with the new company. For the other executives, Topsail Group continued to work and coach several of them until they successfully found jobs with other companies.

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