I am the founder and Managing Director of Group Dynamics International Ltd established in 1989, a consultancy specializing in personal, leadership and team development at Board and senior executive level in FTSE 250 and international companies through mentoring & leadership coaching, process facilitation, team development and psychometric profiling. I have also had over 25 years experience in the design and implementation of organizational development/culture change programmes for performance improvement.
Working with Public and Private Organisations in the UK, USA, Holland, Germany, Italy Poland, Belgium, Spain, South America, Australia and South Africa, my expertise are used with Boards, Senior Management Teams and the entire organization to develop a “can-do” culture where colleagues learn to collaborate and co-operate in pursuit of common goals, rather than obstruct, intimidate or compete.
Prior to founding my own consultancy, I was a management consultant with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a principle consultant (leadership) with Roffey Park Institute, the human relations tutor at the Electricity Council Management College and a manager in Marks & Spencer Plc.
I am author of Confronting Company Politics, 1997 and The Inner Warrior; Developing Courage for Personal and Organizational Change, 2004, both based on my experience of implementing international change programmes and published in the UK and the USA by Palgrave Macmillan. My third book on personal relationships, will be published in January 2012.
Executive Team & Organisational Development
Executive Team Development: A significant feature of many executive teams is that they are somewhat fragmented. There is often a concern that limited communication could result in missed opportunities and that people may take decisions that benefit their own division or department, rather than the greater good of the organisation.
The strategic challenge of organisations today clearly demands executive team working of the highest quality. To meet these demands, Group Dynamics International’s (GDI) Executive Team Effectiveness Programme helps develop an approach that taps the wealth of experience in the executive team and encourages them to become a collective force for the whole organisation, whilst still retaining strong individual leadership in their own areas.
I appreciate that members of executive teams may well feel that they are very sophisticated in their intellectual understanding of leadership and team working. My challenge is to convince them that this initiative is genuinely different, interesting, useful and likely to succeed in encouraging them to practise what they may well be preaching!
Organisation Development: The change programme also concentrates on marshalling the knowledge, skills and latent creativity of the whole management team by agreeing a process for enrolling them in a Leadership Team Effectiveness Programme as part of an Organisation Development Programme that then focuses on implementing the culture change throughout the entire organisation.
The Executive Team Effectiveness Programme
The Executive Team Effectiveness Programme has the following characteristics:
1. Clarification of the Leader’s Role, Style & Expectations
The programme provides an opportunity for the leader to communicate his or her position regarding their role, style and expectations.
2. Harnessing the Potential of Executive Team Members
(i) Understanding roles in terms of their value to the organisation
Each individual’s potential contribution to the organisation, in terms of their role, responsibilities, authority, accountabilities, targets, key objectives etc, needs to be made clear, so that expectations are shared by everyone.
(ii) Definition of relationships
In addition, the executives need to explore the extent to which they need to work together, what they have in common and what needs to be exclusive. As part of this process, they need to assess how well they are playing to their strengths and helping to minimise others’ weaknesses, so as to become a powerful and united force, all working to the same end.
(iii) Developing the required skills
A crucial need is to equip executives with the skills to fulfil their roles more effectively, such as: skills to influence and collaborate; to openly challenge and disagree in real meetings, rather than in ‘corridor meetings’ after the event; to take and execute decisions; to demonstrate integrity, a sense of urgency and a ‘can do’ attitude.
The Executive Team Development Programme
Phase 1: Research And Development
(i) Understanding the leader’s Role, Style And Expectations
To begin the process, I meet with the CEO, President, MD or Senior Partner to determine exactly how he or she wishes to present his or her style and position and what he or she wants and does not want from the executive team activities. This meeting will deliver essential information to ensure that the programme is in line with the leader’s expectations and objectives.
(ii) Interviews with team members
I also meet with each of the executives to ensure that we develop an approach and agenda that is tailored to meet their specific challenges. This will involve my having one-to-one interviews or teleconferences. It may also include the use of a survey tailored specifically for the organisation.
(iii) Develop The Programme Plan
I then have a second meeting with the executive team leader to review the output from the interviews and agree the specifics of the development programme, Offsite agenda and approach.
Phase 2: Executive Team Development
(i) Residential Offsite
This would be followed by, ideally, a 2¼-day residential Strategic & Team Effectiveness Offsite, designed to achieve the leader and executive team’s stated objectives. This generally includes spending time discussing strategic and business issues, whilst also tackling questions relating to the team’s process issues, including:
• What culture do we currently have? What culture do we want? How do we handle conflict and disagreements? What do we want from our leader?
• How big a priority is team working for us? When is the team an opportunity for us and when is it an obstacle? What needs to change?
• How do we balance our functional, business and directorial hats? What are our roles, responsibilities and priorities in working towards the realisation of the organisation’s strategy?
• What are the leadership styles and team roles of individual members of the team? What is our team profile in terms of strengths and weaknesses? Where do we complement each other and where are the conflicts?
• What are our priorities for the next six months? How will we measure success?
My role during the Offsite is to monitor the commonality and differences between individuals in the team and facilitate an open and supportive climate where team members can relax, understand each other better and where issues – business, interpersonal and team – can be raised and dealt with, as and when they arise.
(ii) Psychometric Questionnaires & Surveys
I have a range of psychometric questionnaires on leadership, personality, team and conflict handling styles that can be used where it is felt the information they yield will contribute to helping the executive team make progress.
I also have an Online 360º Survey, an Organisational Climate Survey and a Team Effectiveness Survey, all of which can be developed to reflect the organisation’s values, leadership competencies and strategic objectives.
(iii) Short Report & Follow-Up Meeting
I produce a short report based on the material produced during the Offsite. This report sets out critical success factors, development areas and recommendations for next steps.
Phase 3: Coaching, Mentoring & Facilitation
(i) Harness The Potential Of Individual Executive Team Members
Following the offsite, it’s valuable for the executive team members to review the process and identify their specific support needs so as to maximise their contribution. I recommend, therefore, that the Offsite be followed by 3 months of Ongoing Mentoring & Coaching. This should ensure that action plans are implemented and behavioural changes sustained.
(ii) Ongoing Board Meeting Facilitation
In addition, so as to embed the good intentions made during the Offsite and ensure that best practice is shared, barriers are overcome and areas of conflict continue to be dealt with as and when they arise, I recommend regular observation of board meetings – with unobtrusive facilitation!
Phase 4: Review & Strategic Development
(i) Follow-up Offsite
A follow-up residential Offsite some 4 to 5 months after the first will provide the team members with the opportunity to re-assess the current status of the team dynamics, their leadership behaviours and establish the concept of continuous improvement as part of the team’s culture. Generally a decision to continue the coaching and mentoring interspersed with residential Offsites, is made.
Organisation Development Programme
1. Cascading the New Culture
Now committed to the process of changing the executive team culture and armed with renewed confidence in each other, the team will want to transfer their learning and expertise to the entire management team, and then the organisation as a whole, so that everyone starts from a strong position of understanding and cooperation.
In order to avoid functions being parochial, with individuals identifying with their businesses, country or specialism, rather than the organisation as a whole, it’s important that everyone has an unquestionable understanding of their part in the achievement of the strategy, takes responsibility for achieving their objectives and is left in no doubt that providing a service or product for someone else, whether an internal colleague or external customer, is paramount.
The Organisation Development Programme is designed to impart this understanding and ensure that those who wish to make the change programme a success have the courage, knowledge and techniques to manage those colleagues who may be resistant to change.
1. Facilitator, Coach & Mentor
My role as both process facilitator and coach/mentor is to:
• Be impartial, objective and free from the burden of history, whilst understanding the business challenges
• Understand the people challenges but place these firmly in the wider commercial context
• Expose issues and help team members deal with them constructively
• Challenge assumptions, thinking and behaviour
• Drive for organisational behaviours, in line with the vision and values, that inspires a commitment to the achievement of organisational goals and targets
• Help individuals recognise that personal change and leading by example are imperative
• Be sharp, original, honest and effective