Develop leaders to deal with obstacles and set them up to succeed

Greg faced a dilemma in his new CIO role. The business had appointed him because of the value he could provide to the business strategy. But frequent IT network outages completely derailed his initial conversations with senior executives. Business unit clients refused to talk strategy with him because, in their view, his team couldn’t even keep the lights on. Day-to-day issues chewed up much of his time. He faced obstacles to strategic thinking wherever he looked. 

Every day brought more disastrous news regarding their system performance. It would have been easy for Greg to put his entire focus on fixing today’s network issues. But he knew he needed to adopt a two-speed approach. He had to tackle the operational challenges and simultaneously develop a digital strategy. 

Whilst building his leadership capacities in his executive coaching program, he challenged his team to fix the network issues and turn around their system performance. He was able to take a step back and empower other leaders within his team. He could monitor key measures of operational performance rather than having to be “hands on” himself. That move freed Greg up to focus on the strategic issues. He aligned his leadership team on a vision for them to become a trusted advisor to the business. 

Once Greg’s team committed to the vision, they turned around the operational issues in no time. Business executives noticed the results and became their biggest advocates. The conversation shifted from, “What would you guys know…” to, “What do you guys think?” Greg and his team could contribute their value to the strategic success of the business instead of putting out fires.

In the HBR article, Executives Fail to Execute Strategy Because They’re Too Internally Focused by Ron Carucci, he suggests transforming obstacles has everything to do with success in leadership. The article cites a 10-year longitudinal study of executive performance conducted by Navalent to learn why 50-70% of executives fail in the first eighteen months of promotion into an executive role. They found that 76% of new executives indicated that the formal development processes in their organisation were not helpful in preparing them for their executive role; 55% indicated that they had minimal, if any, ongoing coaching and feedback to help them refine their ability to perform in an executive role; and 45% indicated they had minimal understanding of the challenges they would face in an executive role.

🙋‍♀️ What obstacles have you had to overcome to free up time and space for strategic thinking? 🙋

Best regards, Brian