By Jeff Wolf
Time to read: 2 minutes
Alfredo, a native-born Italian, was senior vice president and general manager for a plastics extrusion company in Rimini, Italy, a division of a U.S.-owned multinational plastics company. Alfredo had taken an operation on the verge of collapse and turned it around into a highly profitable venture, thus becoming a star performer in the eyes of the company’s leaders. He was promoted to executive vice president and brought to the States.
Alfredo faced a similar situation in his new job. The company was going through a bad period: worldwide sales had flattened, costs had risen beyond expectations, profits had tumbled, and employee disengagement was at a peak. The performance of company managers and workers had plummeted as everybody was afraid of what the future held.
Then suddenly, the CEO died from a heart attack, and the board appointed Alfredo as interim CEO to fill the void and prevent panic. Alfredo rose to the challenge. Using the principles espoused in our Leadership Development Program, he took these steps:
First, Alfredo insisted on absolute integrity from himself and the employees of his company. He set the example by telling the truth, even when it hurt (as it so often does when prior leaders concealed unpleasant truths), and he “walked the walk.”
He focused his attention on the people who worked for him, and on managers, supervisors, and workers – everyone. Alfredo understood that great things can only be accomplished by great people, and he set an example that earned the trust of the people in his company.
He knew where he wanted to bring the company and he clearly articulated his visionand ensured that every employee in the company, from workers on the firing line right through his executive staff, understood what their roles were.
Knowing that capable employees leave the company when they lose faith in their leaders, he conducted assessments that enabled every employee to be heard. Alfredo went to great pains to listen to employees and assure that problems hindering them were corrected.
Alfredo realized that constant training and learning better ways to achieve his goals were key to not falling behind his company’s competition, and he extended that philosophy to the rest of the organization by implementing training programsfor employees, both in hard and soft skills.
Alfredo personally coachedhis direct reports to help them overcome obstacles and improve their leadership abilities. He also assured that high potential leaders throughout the company were identified and received personal coaching. He understood that the company’s life-blood and future was invested in high potential leaders and that he could lose them if they didn’t receive the grooming they needed and deserved.
He went out of his way to ensure that employees worked in an environment that encouraged people not only to work hard but to enjoy what they were doing. Accordingly, he appointed two CFO’s, the traditional chief financial officer and a chief fun officer whose duty was to create ways for employees to have fun at work.
Within a few months of Alfredo taking the helm of the parent company, improvements were noticeable across the board in every function of the company. By the end of the year, the company’s fortunes had improved dramatically.
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