DATTNER GRANT

LEADERSHIP FOR OUR TIME

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We are often approached to do one and two day programs. They are what we refer to as the B12 injection – well briefed, with an understanding of the context and audience. They are inspiring, relevant, intellectually challenging and thought provoking.

In this case the client is a National – now privately owned – property maintenance provider. It is a great company which has been through a lot of change in recent years (who hasn’t).

The 14 person leadership team know the various parts of their business incredibly well. They have helped improve the effectiveness of what they do significantly over the last two or three years.

They are down to earth, practical and for the most part, aged mid to late 40s to late 50s, and all (bar 2)- men.

The General Manager and HR Business Manager who contacted us initially, identified challenges around the level of engagement and trust the team had with each other; what would enable the individuals as much as the collective to own strategy at a different level; taking advantage of opportunities to more assertively grow their businesses by sharing knowledge; learning, taking informed risk and collaborating. The impression was that the leaders were largely operational, albeit on a large scale, and perhaps more conservative (many had been with the organisation for 10 – 15 years).

The challenge for Dattner Grant was that time set aside to support this senior leadership group was just one day. So, here’s what we did:

  1. We launched a survey monkey asking basic questions around sense of purpose and values, clarity on strategy, perceived strengths and challenges of the business, perceived strengths and challenges of leadership and asked them what their wish list for change was (things that if changed would make a material difference to the way the business worked).
  2. We ran Human Synergistics’ ‘Lifestyles Inventory’ (LSI 1 only). This is a compelling tool to provide insight into the stories people are telling themselves about themselves and the world around them. Whilst this instrument is used in many contexts, we have a unique ability to rapidly provide break through insights for leadership teams that increase trust and openness.
  3. We then designed a one day program which moved the team from a typical long table conversation, to a round table space – no technology allowed, no tables, and quiet space to talk in a structured way. Groups of leaders were given ample time to talk through personal insights in smaller teams of two and three. As momentum built, the team, who did not normally meet in the round or without technology, started to say openly how significant the difference was in the way they were engaging.
  4. Following the day, each leader was given an hour coaching session which we designed around both personal insight, and pragmatic links to strategy execution. The coaching was shared with myself and the General Manager with the intention to build trust around deep dive conversations linked to business outcomes.

 

Outcome

At the end of a process like this, the world does not shift seismically but a group of good human beings have a taste of what is possible when clumsy conversations turn into open ones, when sticky personal issues are safely handled, when ideas are shared rather than defended and when the leadership skills required for strategy execution become clear. In fact, everyone sees the difference between good and great and how to get there.

From our perspective, it is important to realise that sometimes, if you can’t win the war, tackle the awkward, uncomfortable issues. Help good leaders recognise that being great may not be as tricky as they think.

 

Author, Fabian Dattner, Founding Partner Dattner Grant, Co Founder Homeward Bound