Case Studies


Coaching a Leader toward Enhanced Success and Fulfillment

Challenge and Opportunity:

As an external executive coach, Kristin was hired by a Vice-President of a Fortune 50, global company. This individual had never had experience with an external coach; however, he knew he ‘needed help’ in determining his next steps. He wanted to move forward, yet was not sure in ‘what direction’, inside or outside the company. He lacked objectivity and the current climate at work was detrimental to him in many ways. This individual had a proven track record in Corporate America built over 25 years. He had a wealth of experience, strong skill sets, and yet, was not finding fulfillment or challenge in the current role. Furthermore, his lackadaisical attitude was starting show up in his performance and in his professional relationships. This person stated he associated his identity with his corporate experience and respective titles/roles within the organization. He was afraid to leave – and lose this identity. He also was afraid of losing the ongoing pay check, benefit program, and overall security blanket of his corporate role. He was at a loss of what to do – and just knew ‘he was not happy anymore.’

Approach:

As a coach, Kristin realizes that all successful change (individually or collectively) begins with an individual’s choice; and gaining clarity on what the person needs and wants (short and long term). Coupled with this, is the need to understand the current client environment and how her client fits within this organization. Though the process and approach differs with each client, the steps Kristin used with this particular client included:

  • Interviewing the client, as well as several members of her client’s team –his manager, his peers and his team members. Kristin paid close attention to the values pervasive in the culture, the overall goals and objectives of the organization and her client’s team .She observed how/if they were aligned to one another, the challenges and obstacles facing the overall organization and her client’s team, and finally understanding the real and perceived strengths of the company and her client’s team.
  • These interviews were complimented by several assessments to further gain insight, and share enlightenment with her client relative to her client’s individual strengths and preferences. For this particular client, the Strengths finder process was used, as was the MTBI, Meyers Brigg Type Indicator.
  • Then, over the course of the next 6-7 months, Kristin and her client met four times a month focusing on ‘what the client ultimately wanted’, what ‘success’ looked like to her client, what the client loved to do, and what his desired outcome would be. These conversations were integrated into a SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based) plan for their coaching relationship.
  • In addition to these conversations, which enlightened her client to what he ‘truly wanted’, they developed activities which continued to move her client forward to that desired outcome…including having her client write his ‘desired state’ one year from now for crystal clear visualization.

Results:

At the end of the first eight months, the individual was given a choice to move up into a higher level leadership role within the company. Ironically, due to the work of this coaching engagement, the individual realized that this was not how he defined success any longer. Though this was a wonderful affirmation of the work he had done with his coach, he realized his values and overall desired outcomes no longer aligned with the standard corporate direction. The individual left the company to launch his own company fulfilling a lifelong dream of creating his own brand, and method of unique contribution to the market.

Coaching a Principal on becoming a leader

When we first met Alan Cohen, in 2003, he had recently been appointed Prinicpal of P.S. 69 in the Bronx, New York City. P.S. 69 had been designated a School in Need of Improvement by the State of New York and was in jeopardy of being taken over for poor grades or worst case closed. Alan, like most of the over 1200 principals leading the schools in New York City, was facing obstacles which most corporate leaders would pale under a challenge of this magnitude.

In 2003, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the businessman-turned politician and founder of the eponymous financial information company knew leadership was critical to reforming the school system.  New York declared at that time that principals, though rarely thought of as managers, at least not in a conventional business sense, have the same need for leadership development skills as rising corporate executives. Thus, under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, the New York City Leadership Academy was established in January 2003 and became a cornerstone of the Bloomberg administration’s educational reform strategy for New York City’s public schools, in a program called Children First.

Facing a chronic shortage of qualified principal candidates to fill principal positions in a system with more than 1,200 schools and 1.1 million students, Bloomberg set an ambitious three-year goal for the leadership academy to train approximately 600 principals by 2006. In addition to training new principals, the academy was to provide professional development for experienced principals.

The NYC initiative stands out, not only for the financial support it is getting from the business community; but on how the initial academy was built on the success of a highly lauded instruction and professional development program started in the 1980s by a handful of New York City school districts AND combining this experience with expertise gleaned from corporate leadership training. The Academy emerged as a model of how a public bureaucracy can adopt proven leadership training methods from business AND combine them with best practices in education instruction.

In addition to recruiting Jack Welch as a board member and instructor, the academy enlisted the business leadership teacher and consultant Noel M. Tichy. Dr. Tichy, currently director of the Global Leadership program at the University of Michigan Graduate School of Business, was GE’s manager of management education from 1985 to 1987 and one of the primary developers of the highly regarded GE Leadership Development Center (which is now called the John F. Welch Leadership Center) in Crotonville.

Through using the best leadership training methods from these companies, the academy integrated ‘real-life’ job challenges into teaching management techniques and built instruction around a school principal’s real challenges in such areas as team building, communications, and time management.

The mission of the Academy was to create the leadership momentum that would transform the quality of educational instruction in the school system as a whole. The academy attempted to equip its principals to be energetic change agents who elevate public school standards and expectations, motivate teachers, implement curriculum changes, and make lasting improvements in the classroom learning environment — a strategy endorsed by its business partners.

Kristin Kaufman was one of two private sector trainers/facilitators invited to be a part of this initiative and had the privilege of working for Bob Knowling and alongside Noel Tichy through this three year reformation effort. She lead scores of leadership development sessions at the Academy and served as Alan Cohen’s personal executive leadership coach throughout this entire period. This close relationship between Mr. Cohen and Kristin has continued for over seven years.

Approach and  Integration of Leadership Principles

Upon taking the helm, Principal Cohen had to give the school a wakeup call. He asked hard questions of his staff: ‘Who – if any – of you would want to send your children to this school?’ He held the mirror up for his team and all the supporting stake holders to see the reality of the situation.

Once his team realized and embraced the harsh reality of the current state; he began to build a new vision and a new path to reach that vision. He wanted to build a community in his school a climate of open communication, sharing, collaboration, and respect. “There’s no magic formula, but what I did was give people options and opportunities where they’d never had them before,” says Principal Cohen. He realized the power of ‘choice’ and giving and empowering his team.

At the core, Cohen built a very strong point of view relative to his vision for the school and integrated his mission and incremental ideas throughout the organization. His mission remained the foundational compass by which all transformation was based:

“Our mission is to create a community of lifelong learners in pursuit of academic excellence, where all students learn the necessary skills to become caring, creative and productive citizens. We will provide students, teachers and parents with a respectful nurturing community where we will educate their minds and their hearts for the 21st century.”

He supported his overall ideas with a strong set of values which were represented by expected behaviors throughout the school….parents, teachers, staff, students and constituents. He held his team accountable for ‘walking the talk’ of these values to continue to build as the norm within the school.

NYS Tests Results

PS69 GraphThis graph of PS 69 progress in reading and math scores speaks for itself. The school’s most recent score on the New York City Department of Education Progress Report was 98.7%. In mathematics, student proficiency has increased more than 50% since Cohen and his team took the helm. When compared to their peers at similar schools, the students at P.S. 69 performed 121.5% better. In reading, scores on standardized tests have improved by more than 30%. When compared to their peers at similar schools, the students at P.S. 69 performed 99% better.

From a leadership perspective, in 2007, Time Warner Inc. chose recipients of the inaugural Principals of Excellence Awards. The awards were created by Time Warner to celebrate the leadership of exemplary principals in New York City public schools. Alan Cohen was one of the five chosen winners – out of a population of 1200 principals in the New York City ISD.


 

Case Study: NYC Leadership Academy from Kristin Kaufman on Vimeo.

 

Please refer to other sources for more information on the New York City Leadership Academy and other contributing articles:

PS 69 Website

The New York City Leadership Academy

Art Kleiner, “GE’s Next Workout,” s+b, Winter 2003

Andrea Gabor, “Leadership Principals for Public School Principals”, s+b, Issue 39, May 25, 2005, Reprint number 05207

Randall Rothenberg, “Noel M. Tichy: The Thought Leader Interview,” s+b, Spring 2003

Anthony Alvarado, Richard Elmore, and Lauren Resnick, “Final Report: High Performance Learning Communities Project,” Sept. 15, 2000, University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center;

Sandra J. Stein and Liz Gewirtzman, Principal Training on the Ground: Ensuring Highly Qualified Leadership (Heinemann, 2003)

Noel M. Tichy with Eli Cohen, The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level (HarperBusiness, 1997)

The New York City Leadership Academy

Developing High Performance Teams around a Strategic Plan to Deliver Results

The goal was to design and implement a global strategy to exponentially grow the overall revenue for this Fortune 50 technology company.

Challenge:

The team was widely distributed around the globe; approximately 35 members of the team were in a matrix reporting structure to Kristin and had additional responsibilities in their respective countries which represented a higher value to their overall compensation package. The company for which Kristin worked was heavily investing in their own integration capabilities which competed directly with her potential partners’ offerings.  Individual team members were compensated for individual performance independent of the overall team goals or results. The internal team was mis-aligned with the company’s overall strategic direction, and this triggered mis-alignment with its alliance partner’s overall growth strategy with technology partners. The initial goal of the global team was to grow the business by 35% in the first fiscal year of her assignment, as measured by ‘through, to and with’ revenue.

Action steps:

  • Analyzing and gaining a strong understanding from all sides of the equation (team, partners’ executive team, company’s executive team, and all supporting parties from both companies) of what worked and what didn’t work in prior years.
  • Listening and recognizing what drives each individual contributor on the team, and supporting teams within the company, designing roles/responsibilities which optimized their unique skills, and areas for contribution, and launching a global planning effort for all cross-functional teams to mutually collaborate and align their respective go-to-market strategies.
  • Building compensation programs which rewarded individual and team behavior to drive the specific results needed.
  • Defining clarity around each company’s respective product and service offerings, mutually framing areas in which they could each augment and extend their reach into key vertical and horizontal markets, without competing, and building ongoing communication mechanisms to maintain alignment in joint activities globally.
  • Aligning both companies around key focus areas: geographically, vertically, and with strong solution orientation, to deploy resources for optimal return on the investment.
  • Gaining strategic commitment and alignment from the executive leadership of both companies to insure ongoing sponsorship through implementation within their respective global organizations.

Results:

Kristin’s approach was successful in building a highly motivated and tightly connected team of individuals. Through this teams’ collaborative efforts, the relationship between the two alliance partners grew in strategic significance to both companies, resulting in 40% growth in the first year, and growing to a three-fold increase in the overall revenue stream three years after this teams’ strategic implementation began.

Aligning Sales, Marketing and Operational Divisions for improved Sales Effectiveness

As an internal consultant for a high-growth division within a Fortune 50 healthcare company, the goal was to objectively uncover, diagnose, explore, and make recommendations to augment and extend their current strategy to grow overall revenue within this division through alternative processes, methods, and channels.

Challenge:

The division was heavily reliant upon their parent company for market segmentation, territory planning and sales approaches. This heavy reliance left many markets sub-optimized, limiting their growth strategy due to this strong tie, as their parent company was also a competitor to many channel partners with whom they could more proactively team. Their growth potential was very high; however sales and sales leadership felt a strong level of frustration due to limitations being placed on how they could go-to-market, ongoing sales conflict in the field due to no standard ‘rules of engagement’ or account management processes between the division and the parent company, and a over-weighted dependency on the existing broker channel for leads (over 90% of leads came through the broker channel) with no methods to track, qualify or manage these referrals.

Action steps:

The team, of both internal and external resources, implemented a sales effectiveness study which consisted of:

  • Interviewing over 40 members of the executive and leadership teams, from all functional groups within the division; as well as key members of the sales team to gain a clear understanding of the realities they face in the market and internally.
  • Reporting the team’s findings, the subsequent implications, and their recommendations to address key opportunities in these areas: market segmentation, territory planning, lead management, forecasting and pipeline management, account management, knowledge management/training, partner management, and cross-segment selling and leverage.
  • Prioritizing the numerous areas for improvement, to the top three which would give leadership the greatest ‘bang for the buck,’ gaining executive leadership endorsement to implement these changes, and move forward assertively for fiscal year implementation.

Results:

The sales effectiveness study was successful in attaining top-down awareness and understanding of what the real issues were facing the division. This resulted in a collaborative interest in solving the issues, and making the implementation of key changes successful. The division invested in a complete review of their current sales go-to-market strategy; which included analysis of their current market segments, their size, potential, channels to those markets, potential barriers for success, and ongoing critical success factors. This cross-functional review resulted in a mutually agreed upon, and fully aligned strategy moving forward across all segments within the division. The revisions improved sales performance, and provided greater visibility of their channel partners’ performance in various markets. Finally, it provided clarity and support toward implementing the next steps in Sales Effectiveness review recommendations, which included ongoing broker/channel management reviews/workshops, territory management and pipeline management streamlining, and ongoing people management workshops.

Aligning an Individual for Optimal Performance, Success and Personal Fulfillment

As the new Vice-President for worldwide channels and distribution for a publicly traded internet software company, Kristin’s virtual team crossed multiple functional and geographic lines – sales, account management, marketing, legal and engineering. She wanted to gain clear understanding of what drove the various individuals within team so that she could support and mentor their individual professional goals, while positioning them to effectively support team.

Challenge:

Many of the individuals who were part of her team, actually reported to other leaders who managed their promotional track, compensation, and ongoing positions within the company. Kristin realized that all successful change (individually or collectively) begins with an individual’s choice; and gaining clarity on what an individual needs and wants (short and long term) was the key in supporting and mentoring those choices. However, once discovered, she was operationally limited in what she could provide to certain individuals. The challenge was to continue to stimulate, inspire, motivate and support individuals while they were learning and potentially positioning themselves for transitions within/outside the current environment. One such individual was a high-performing, very astute member of her supporting legal team. This individual had assertive goals to grow and to gain skills which would serve her in the future.

Action steps:

  • Creating the opportunity for heavy involvement of all aspects of program development, not just the legal aspects, to gain thorough understanding of the tenants behind channel program development.
  • Inclusion in all meetings with other team members to gain visibility and awareness of team dynamics and subsequent leadership opportunities.
  • Weekly, and often daily, coaching on issues, resolutions, strategies, and ongoing professional development opportunities.

Results:

The individual left the company after several years of gaining mastery of the legal and operational aspects of implementing a worldwide channels and indirect selling model. This experience positioned her to be recruited as General Counsel for another publicly traded company, which was a promotional step. In addition, her life long dream of living abroad and attaining bi-country legal licensing was achieved. Clarifying her desires and abilities gave her the courage to accept a challenging role, move abroad and realize her professional and personal potential. Her life continues to align in the directions she has chosen to achieve with her goals.

Coaching an Individual Toward Enhanced Success

Challenge and Opportunity:

As an external executive coach, Kristin was hired by a Vice-President of a Fortune 50, global company. This individual had never had experience with an external coach; however, he knew he ‘needed help’ in determining his next steps. He wanted to move forward, yet was not sure in ‘what direction’, inside or outside the company. He lacked objectivity and the current climate at work was detrimental to him in many ways. This individual had a proven track record in Corporate America built over 25 years. He had a wealth of experience, strong skill sets, and yet, was not finding fulfillment or challenge in the current role. Furthermore, his lackadaisical attitude was starting show up in his performance and in his professional relationships. This person stated he associated his identity with his corporate experience and respective titles/roles within the organization. He was afraid to leave – and lose this identity. He also was afraid of losing the ongoing pay check, benefit program, and overall security blanket of his corporate role. He was at a loss of what to do – and just knew ‘he was not happy anymore.’

Approach:

As a coach, Kristin realizes that all successful change (individually or collectively) begins with an individual’s choice; and gaining clarity on what the person needs and wants (short and long term). Coupled with this, is the need to understand the current client environment and how her client fits within this organization. Though the process and approach differs with each client, the steps Kristin used with this particular client included:

  • Interviewing the client, as well as several members of her client’s team –his manager, his peers and his team members. Kristin paid close attention to the values pervasive in the culture, the overall goals and objectives of the organization and her client’s team. She observed how/if they were aligned to one another, the challenges and obstacles facing the overall organization and her client’s team, and finally understanding the real and perceived strengths of the company and her client’s team.
  • These interviews were complimented by several assessments to further gain insight, and share enlightenment with her client relative to her client’s individual strengths and preferences. For this particular client, the Strengths finder process was used, as was the MTBI, Meyers Brigg Type Indicator.
  • Then, over the course of the next 6-7 months, Kristin and her client met four times a month focusing on ‘what the client ultimately wanted’, what ‘success’ looked like to her client, what the client loved to do, and what his desired outcome would be. These conversations were integrated into a SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based) plan for their coaching relationship.
  • In addition to these conversations, which enlightened her client to what he ‘truly wanted’, they developed activities which continued to move her client forward to that desired outcome…including having her client write his ‘desired state’ one year from now for crystal clear visualization.

Results:

At the end of the first eight months, the individual was given a choice to move up into a higher level leadership role within the company. Ironically, due to the work of this coaching engagement, the individual realized that this was not how he defined success any longer. Though this was a wonderful affirmation of the work he had done with his coach, he realized his values and overall desired outcomes no longer aligned with the standard corporate direction. The individual left the company to launch his own company fulfilling a lifelong dream of creating his own brand, and method of unique contribution to the market.