Do you have a high performer that acts out, but you hesitate to correct him or her because he or she generates so much business for the company?
You may discover that your favored “race horse” is actually costing you more than you know.
What can you do?
I have seen this before – and if the high performer is willing, and you are ready to support the change, you may be able to turn this around.
Sam was an executive vice president who generated the lion’s share of the revenue for his organization for over five years. Leadership coined him “the race horse,” and at one time wondered if he should be the next CEO.
The customers were real fans, and Sam’s team was extremely loyal.
There was just one problem: Sam didn’t like to work with the other vice presidents or their managers. He felt they slowed his progress, which meant they weren’t consulted when he took on a new project – even when it affected their area. Sam often went around department managers if he needed help with something from one of their employees.
In the past, leadership pushed back on these other executives, worried that if Sam was asked to work with them, he would quit. However, over time, leadership noticed a growing resentment and conflict due to Sam’s work-arounds and inter-team avoidance tactics. Productivity was taking a deep dive.
Sam was surprised when his CEO introduced us, stating that he didn’t see the problem since his revenue generation was better than ever. However, since I had met with the CEO previous to this meeting, and we had quantified the loss to the organization because of Sam’s approach, the message was clear – Sam was actually costing the business a lot of money. His team and members of other teams were fighting, and turnover was on the rise.
Wanting to save his job and his reputation, Sam agreed to work with me to turn things around.
He had several great qualities, but lacked two key leadership traits that would stop his career in its tracks – the ability to empathize, seeing things from multiple perspectives; and the resulting ability to develop and nurture rapport with others for trusting relationships.
We co-created a development plan that addressed these two behaviors specifically, and worked together over the ensuing months to apply and integrate his learning so that it became a part of his nature. Sam agreed to a bold approach in this – he allowed me to help him talk to some of his colleagues and team members so that they played a part in his success. He shared that he was working on his leadership, and asked them if he could get intermittent feedback from them as to how he was doing as he and I worked together.
This paid off exponentially. Not only did Sam learn how to eliminate old counter-productive behaviors and replace them with more effective ones, he acquired some great advocates in his colleagues and teammates through his willingness to receive and use the feedback they provided.
Sam wasn’t promoted to CEO at that organization. He did get an offer, but instead, chose to accept another CEO position a few states away. I wish him well. He has earned the promotion.
Do you have a “racehorse” that does not play well with others? What might it be costing you?
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive coaching, leadership development, succession planning, change, and conflict management. She is also a Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.