Case Studies

Case Study #1

Sarah had worked for a multinational Fortune XX corporation for over 20 years when she was referred to AIM Leadership. Having managed a financial team for almost 10 years, Sarah had been demoted two levels and “relieved” of her management responsibilities. She felt she had delivered what was expected and each year she had performed well on evaluations. Over time, the company’s values had shifted from results to who and how they were delivered. Unfortunately, no one told this to Sarah. Her managers did not give her constructive feedback on how to become more productive.

Not only was Sarah surprised by these demotions, she was embarrassed, confused and felt betrayed. As the primary bread-winner, Sarah felt obligated to come to coaching and yet, she was skeptical of “anything corporate.”

There were many problems in this situation. During the previous 3 years, Sarah had had several managers. None had prioritized candid developmental feedback. None had created a real relationship with Sarah, where they could understand what they saw as her priority. And none were clear enough about their own values in order to constructively deliver difficult feedback.

To complicate matters, during this same time period the corporation transitioned from being family-run to having a CEO from outside the family. Very much aligned with the AIM Model, the new CEO measured success on the “who and the how” in addition to the “what.” Sarah was still focused on the old model and delivering the what. She had missed that the “game changed” and no one had been courageous or honest enough to tell her.

Initially Sarah was very skeptical of AIM Leadership. A quiet woman to start, she felt stabbed in the back by people she thought she could trust. As the primary breadwinner for her family, she felt she had no choice and yet she was very doubtful of collaborating with AIM. During the first four hours of coaching, the conversations barely touched on anything related to Sarah’s work. The AIM coach focused on getting to know Sarah, understanding what was important to her and deepening the relationship.

Not too surprisingly, Sarah shared several challenges on the home front that virtually paralleled her work challenges. As a mother of two teenage sons, she was focused on getting things done (cooking dinner, doing laundry, etc.) and overlooked how she delivered these results. The AIM coach provided her perspective through questions, reflections, new insights. Not “telling Sarah” – letting Sarah see herself.

Through the coaching collaboration Sarah reconnected to what was most important to herself (developing her self-knowledge) and started to see how she was showing up at home (self awareness). Within a week of making several small yet essential shifts, Sarah saw significant shifts in her boys (they were sharing with her, more communicative, more engaged, working with her on projects – rather than against her).

With a few significant wins on the home front, Sarah was less stressed, more trusting of the AIM coach and more open to learning – stretching – and collaborating with the AIM Coach.
As she became clearer about what was important and more aware of how she was showing up (as she knew her self better), she was able to adapt, connect and relate more deeply with the boys. Sarah saw the parallel between the challenges at work and home. She had specific tangible wins with what “mattered most”; she could “cross-contextualize” and translate her learnings from home to the workplace.

AIM coaching helped her see that if the coach had come in focused on the “what,” getting Sarah on board to manage the way the company wanted, the collaboration with AIM would have fallen flat on its face. In contrast, the AIM coach was committed to deepening the relationship with Sarah: focusing on who she was and what was important to her, – meeting Sarah where Sarah was. (With people you have to go slow to go fast). As Sarah saw the wins and felt “seen” by her coach, the speed and intensity of her learning intensified.

She was invigorated, committed and disciplined in her learning. For each person she connected with, Sarah began to deepen the relationships before tackling the work problems. Soon she was seeking out her “challenging relationships,” inviting them to lunch, and getting to know them as individuals. Before large meetings, she scheduled time to think about each person coming to the table and thought of five things she admired about that person (deepening her relationship / connection to the people involved… not just the worker bees). Within 3 months her boss praised her shifts. Within 6 months, Sarah was re-instated to her management position.

Interestingly, as Sarah was reaping so many rewards, she was also continuing her growth and development, and connecting more deeply with those around her. People soon came to her to facilitate their most difficult, contentious meetings. From introverted socially awkward producer, she became a skilled trusted facilitator. The best part is that Sarah did this because she knew it was what was right.

Case Study #2

Highly self-aware and self-motivated, Meghan sought out leadership development. Professionally successful, she was aware of her gifts, strengths and talents as well as some of her “developmental opportunities” that were inhibiting her (both fulfillment and accomplishment). Meghan approached AIM Leadership to “grow herself”. For over two years, Meghan committed to deepening her self-knowledge, skills and tools. She was always looking to play at a higher game – and sought coaching – to push that edge and be supported in doing so. Meghan wanted to combine professional success with her personal life (recently married, eager to be a mother) “in a healthy, balanced, way.”

Her personal growth and development has been apparent in her personal successes as well as her professional achievements. Meghan knew that as she continued to develop, the challenges that she continued to face enabled her to have even greater learning opportunities. She brought her real world challenges into her coaching and applied the outcomes immediately.

two years after commencing coaching, Meghan “lived” the AIM Model of Leadership and she was reaping the rewards. She was constantly “growing herself”, and deepening relationships with colleagues, friends, family and her partner. There was tremendous alignment and she was experiencing the great results in virtually all areas of her life.

Meghan returned from maternity leave and accepted a “growth position” as a manager of an early stage investment fund with an entirely different team and new technical responsibilities. In addition she was given the challenge of co-running this team. That said, each of the new learning areas was the “easy” aspect. The greatest challenge was collaborating with someone who was focused on leading by the old Model of Success. Her partner Joe had a number of big, financial wins under his belt. He had closed huge deals for different financial institutions and had the “confidence” to prove it. He had been rewarded for the what and it seemed had paid “less” attention to the who or how along the way.

When Meghan was asked to co-manage a new fund with Joe, she was excited. Although the position was outside her comfort zone, she knew Joe had great experience with his background in technology, banking, running his own early stage venture, and an incredible track record of taking over, financing, and successfully exiting this company. Meghan went into the situation uncertain of her abilities to deliver for the huge project and hopeful that she could learn from Joe.

Meghan felt stretched beyond her capacity to manage her multi-cultural team and to balance her family role as a mother and wife. The fund Meghan and Joe were tasked to run was sponsored and wholly owned by a non-profit specializing in international development . Meghan came to AIM Leadership for guidance on how to effectively balance her personal and professional life, knowing that when her personal relationships were fulfilling so too would be her professional relationships and responsibilities.

As an AIM leader and someone who followed through with her coaching, Meghan focused on building relationships while Joe was very result-oriented. Meghan spent all this time developing real relationships so she could connect to build deeper rapport with her clients. Joe continued to focus on the deals and his track records. Soon associates and clients wanted to meet with Meghan instead of Joe, and with Meghan’s AIM leadership strategies she continued to close her deals while Joe didn’t close any.

While Joe focused more on the results (what), Meghan focused on the process (who & how). Team members were reluctant to work with Joe; he was perceived as callous, brusque and disrespectful. As their track record “split,” Joe started to focus even more on closing the deals, achieving the what. Meghan, a people person by nature, focused on their team, the relationships and the engagement of colleagues to support the execution of details.

During a 6 month period, Meghan closed more deals, had more invitations to collaborate, and was asked to speak more often (3:1). This gave her more exposure to then attract more deals. Consistently Meghan reached out to Joe, trying to get to know him, to meet him on his turf to understand what was important to him. She tried to share strategies from her own success. This increased the pressure on Joe.

Joe resisted the chances to look in the mirror and their partnership came to a head during a team retreat that focused on aligning outcomes. Joe wanted “old model” style while Meghan and her team wanted the AIM Model style. Joe didn’t have the self-knowledge to manage himself. He wasn’t able to share of himself, failed to create the real relationships with others and didn’t adapt to the institutional context within which he was working. This approach cost him deals, deteriorated relationships within his team and bled social capital with colleagues around him. His ego was attached to closing the deals (what), and he didn’t have the agility to try other approaches (how) and partnerships (who).

Amid company restructuring when budgets were cut, Joe was one of the first to go. He didn’t have the results, the relationships, or the rapport to even have a discussion with executives. Although she had significantly less depth of knowledge within this industry, Meghan and her AIM model of leadership were a coveted resource. She was given a raise and kept abreast of the situation. Management also “listened” to her amid the shifts. To that end Meghan saw “all of Joe,” the human side and his unique skills, and strategically worked to retain him.

If Meghan made one mistake in this partnership it was not placing high enough priority on the values /alignment of her partnership with Joe. More specifically, had she known he could only do the old model she might have established rules of engagement / conditions for collaboration sooner, saving herself emotional energy and social capital within the company that was spent “trying to save him.”

Conclusion

In the information age, people are a company’s greatest resource. By leveraging self-awareness, latent strengths, personal values, and individuality, AIM clients create a leadership style that is comfortable, sustainable and effective. With our changing economy and globalization, we are witnessing the need for authentic leadership that will sustain through technology and time. AIM Leadership is deeply passionate about and dedicated to creating customized solutions which further maximize your leaders’ performance abilities.

We see the immense value in results-oriented collaborations and realize that in order to create sustainable solutions, we must work together with people-oriented team members.

The value is in the quality of the services. Among our adaptable and continually progressive approaches are our executive coaching services, interactive trainings, and international speaking engagements. Focusing on the strategies and resources, AIM Leadership will enable you to empower and inspire yourself and your company.