Case Study – An IT Consultancy Business.
Playing to Their Strengths
Helping to Overcome Challenges
The leadership team of this small, fast growing, IT consultancy came to us to help them with some familiar ‘growing pains’.
Firstly, they were struggling with how they, as leaders, could relinquish more of the day to day management and delivery of the work, and support the next layer of managers to step up to this, so that they could focus on developing the business.
Secondly, there were tensions within and outside the team; everyone in the team was feeling stretched and this was starting to strain relationships, difficulties were emerging around communications across the business and the importance of holding onto their key talent had been brought into focus by the departure of a couple of popular and capable members of staff.
These are common challenges for growing start-ups. When you start out as a business owner you will likely need to do a bit of everything – you’ll deliver, you’ll sell, you’ll manage. You’ll be finance, HR and IT! However, there comes a point, hopefully, when you’ve been successful enough at the selling and delivering that you’ll need to hire people.
How do you transition from being a do-er to being a leader? And how do you go from being a single business owner to being part of a leadership team?
Where Edgecumbe came in
We knew from experience that we would need to take both an individual and team approach to help this leadership team with their challenges.
First, we ran Individual developmental assessments for the team, providing each of them with a personal in-depth written report which brought together data from three psychometric personality questionnaires, 360-degree feedback from colleagues and information we gathered from a 3-hour interview with them. This report and the subsequent feedback and coaching we provided, helped each individual to understand where their most natural strengths lie, why they find some things they’re doing harder and more taxing, and finally the things that they are never likely to be great at. The report also helped them to understand in terms of their development:
- What they should work with – their natural strengths
- What they should work on – their fragile and potential strengths
- What they should work around – their resistant limitations
Once each team member understood how they could develop in order to play to their strengths, we moved on to work with the team as a whole.
"I have seen the application of these ideas enable individuals and teams from around the world understand what they need to do, and why, and align their personal and collective efforts to work together effectively and deliver results in a way they found astonishing."
"What we have seen in our company is that managers take an immediate liking to its simplicity and clarity. In our journey to build a single leadership team for a multinational company it helped them to play to their strengths and trust others to complete the team."
"I have used the Primary Colours leadership model both personally and across the whole organisation for several years. The model challenges conventional thinking and I have seen it shape successful shifts in leadership behaviours that have driven real business outcomes."
"This leadership model is practical, simple, understandable and, most importantly, it works at all levels."
The Magic of the Team Profile
Creating Alignment Behind a Shared Vision
The first team session focussed on creating alignment behind a shared vision and set of goals – what they wanted to achieve as a business in the short to medium term. We also talked about what they would need to start, stop and continue doing individually and as a team in order to achieve those goals.
The most impactful piece of the team workshop came in presenting and discussing the Team Profile – the amalgamated data from their individual assessments. Suddenly they could see their challenge clearly – several of them were performing roles that were completely incompatible with their natural strengths. Their roles relied on them performing in areas where they had either:
- Fragile strengths – meaning they can do the task but it means going against the natural grain of their personality, so it takes a lot out of them to sustain performance in that area and when they’re under pressure, they slip up.
- Resistant limitations – not only do they have unhelpful personality traits for the task (e.g. someone who is naturally very disorganised trying to project manage a large and complex project), but their colleague feedback suggests they aren’t performing well in this area in spite of their best efforts. And the prospects for improvement weren’t great because their development in this area is hampered due to their incompatible personality traits.
This had a particularly profound effect for one of the team members in particular. He had personally been really struggling and feeling challenged for a while and his team lacked the clarity of expectations or the support they needed, leading a few to leave the company. Through the individual developmental assessment and the team processes his self-awareness was opened up and the burden he felt about having to be an all-rounder and do it all was released – a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.
Giving Confidence and Clarity
Changing Roles and Responsibilities
The team had been pondering and arguing over changes to their structure and their roles and responsibilities. Following this work, they made some significant changes, which helped them to individually play to their strengths. This was better not only for the business, but for their own well-being and for their relationships with each other.
They were also able to work more happily and effectively when they came together as a team because they knew each other a lot better. They understood how they were different and understood what to do in order that those differences complemented each other rather than created negative conflict.