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How We Did It: Proactive Executive Coaching and Leadership Development

The Need

One company needed to provide support to transitioning executives, to help them overcome challenges and accelerate success in their new roles.

The Solution

DDI's special form of executive transition coaching called Pressure Point Development uses a three-phase process to help transitioning executives get started on the right foot.

The Result

With powerful, actionable development plans, executives started new roles confidently and were set up for success, ready to transform the business. 

For one particular executive, this experience crystallized what she was doing well and what she was neglecting, then gave her a tangible plan moving forward of specific things she needed to do differently to excel in her role.

Eric Hanson, Consulting Director, DDI Executive Services

In this How We Did It video, Eric Hanson, executive consulting director at DDI, shares how he worked with one company to implement a proactive executive coaching and leadership development program to help new executives accelerate success in their roles.

In just one example of how DDI's Pressure Point Development executive coaching experience works across a group of executives, Eric explains how he partnered with one senior leader to help her see the potential pitfalls ahead in her new role so she could avoid making costly mistakes.

Learn more about the different phases of this executive development experience, including how Eric works with new executives to form a clear, actionable plan to drive success and overcome challenges.

Learn about DDI's executive transition coaching

Transcript: 

Beth Almes:                        

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to "How We Did It," where we share stories about how we worked with clients to achieve great success. I have Eric Hanson here with me today. Eric's going to talk about how he worked with an executive to help her see the potential pitfalls ahead and get set up for success in her new executive role. Welcome, Eric.

Eric Hanson:                       

Thanks, Beth.

Beth Almes:                        

Tell me a little bit about the challenge that this executive and the company were facing.

Eric Hanson:                       

Yeah, great question. This is a situation where I worked with a senior leader who was put in place in a role where she needed to drive some turnaround of a distribution operation. She was successful in her prior roles, but was asked to lead a turnaround in a situation where the accountabilities were loose and performance was falling short; they were missing customer expectations. There were a number of issues that really needed to be addressed pretty urgently.

Beth Almes:                        

What kind of solution did you use to help her accelerate into that new role, given all those pitfalls that were already standing in the way?

Eric Hanson:                       

Sure. We used the Pressure Point Coaching process. I will say in this particular situation, what really helped was the discovery process of understanding what were some of the pressures she was facing. For instance, she was facing some pressures with regard to new relationships that she needed to get familiar with. 

She needed to build new networks and understand the relationship dynamics in that situation. She discovered that she was really immersed in a lot of the details, which was important to understand some of the problems and to come up with some resolution, but really through this process, helped her to discover the various facets of her role, where she was spending her time, and where she was really missing out, where she was neglecting some things that really needed to be addressed.

Beth Almes:                        

Tell me a little bit about the pressure point process in general. How does that work for executives?

Eric Hanson:                       

The pressure point coaching process consists of three key sessions of 90 minutes each. The first part is about discovery. It helps to work through a process for people to really understand the full range of their roles and the challenges that are facing them, and to talk through the areas where they're spending a lot of their time and areas where they may be missing out.

The second session gets into what we call the examination of pitfalls, or potential risk areas. What this involves is looking at the various facets of the role and what are the things that you might be at risk for neglecting or overlooking. Where many times we spend a lot of time focusing on certain things that require our attention, we may inadvertently miss out on some other things. That pitfall examination, or potential risk analysis, allows us to zero in on what might be giving this person the most challenge and areas that probably need some action to address.

The third phase of the coaching involves what we call a LEAF plan—learning, experience, application, and feedback. In that, we're actually helping to facilitate through the creation of an action plan that gives the person a solid foundation on the things that they can go and tangibly do and work on to mitigate some of those potential risk areas. That's really the outline of the pressure point coaching process.

Beth Almes:                        

Great. As this came to life for this new executive and her role, how did she work through this process and identify some of those potential risk areas that she needed to watch out for?

Eric Hanson:                       

Absolutely. What was really interesting was as we talked through the various forces of executive pressure—and that might be what's hitting this person from the standpoint of their team—all of a sudden, this woman had a team of people that she was less familiar with and needed to develop those relationships and get her arms around who the different players were. 

The pressure point framework gives us an outline of the different areas that people may feel pressure. It might be team, like I mentioned, it might be the networks that they're working within, it might be strategy of their operation, and also would look at maybe where do they put pressure on themselves as well. That all makes it difficult to adjust in our turnaround situation like she was facing.

We worked through that framework, and I helped to ask questions about what was she facing in her role? What resonated with her? What were the things that were really getting a lot of attention? What were the things that she was less cognizant of, but that were putting pressure on her and her performance in her role? The framework was really, really beneficial to have something to react to. That's how we went through the discovery process of the things that were really foremost in creating some of the pressures in her role.

Beth Almes:                        

What kind of pitfalls was she facing? In this scenario of low accountability, struggling, things that were there even before she got there, what kind of pitfalls were unique then to her as she had to address these problems in her role?

Eric Hanson:                       

Absolutely. What we call fragile accountabilities is one of the pitfalls. Let's say there was a history of leaders really not holding people accountable to their results, holding them accountable to work behaviors, and following standard operating procedures. There was too much looseness in the way that the things were managed and as a result, mistakes were made. She realized that there were fragile accountabilities in the work environment.

The other thing that was really interesting was on the relationship side. There's a pitfall we call passive politics. What that is about is not really recognizing or appreciating the relationship dynamics and some of the power dynamics. She realized that she was, as she needed to, digging into the details, understanding and solving problems with others, but she was not, let's say, investing in the relationships and the broader network in a manner that would really help her. 

She realized she needed to develop a wider network of relationships and really foster trust with that network of individuals. The plan that we had coming out of it was really just focused on that kind of thing, fostering those relationships and recognizing where she needed to develop more trust with others, and to look at that dynamic in addition to handling all of the day-to-day problem-solving.

Beth Almes:                        

You mentioned the three pressure point coaching sessions. As you drew to the end of that, where was she in the process? How had things changed from beginning to end?

Eric Hanson:                       

Working through that process, I think, was really—I guess the word I would say—insightful for her, because it took her through this process of discovery and really examining the total array of her role and looking at the things that are assets for her. She's got great strengths, and we looked at how she could leverage those strengths. 

Pulling through to the plan that was put together really helped her to crystallize and examine, "Okay, I realize there are some things that I'm doing well, but there's some things that I'm neglecting." She was at a place where she really had a tangible plan for moving forward. She really could put her finger on the specific things that she needed to do differently or more of, and she walked away from that process with a real clear plan of action that she began to implement.

Beth Almes:                        

That sounds like an incredible transformation for the individual executive, but what do you think was the impact on the organization as a whole as she moved forward with this plan?

Eric Hanson:                       

If you think about those couple of areas, she was really attentive to the accountability piece, and that was part of the operational problem-solving she was already engaged in, but it really brought to light how she needed to shore things up and leverage her team more than she was previously. 

I think she had a very solid plan for working with a whole array of different people—senior leaders within that facility as well as people who had been in roles for a long time, that had a lot of relationships with senior leaders that she was less aware of. And through the relationship-building process was able to foster a level of trust with them. I think she was set up in a really good place to get all that work going.

Beth Almes:                        

Thank you so much for that story, Eric. I think it's really a fantastic representation of how a really great executive who's already so strong can just learn so much more coming into a role and making sure that before the mistakes even start, that you're getting off on the right foot and really have a powerful way to drive success. They put you in the role for a reason, right?

Eric Hanson:                       

Absolutely.

Beth Almes:                        

Great. Thank you so much for sharing that story.

Eric Hanson:                       

Oh, you're welcome. Thanks so much, Beth.