It was a time of uncertainty for a global financial services provider, but the Chief Technology Officer had to pull his team together, even when their own futures with the company were at risk.
At a glance
Industry: Financial Services
Challenge: In the midst of uncertainty, create and convey new vision for business unit’s future
Objective: Greater growth and profitability
JMW Approach: Develop a high-impact leadership team through customized leadership development programs, consulting
Results: Overcame complex barriers to deliver breakthrough global technology initiatives
The Chief Technology Officer for a worldwide financial services company engaged JMW for support in developing a high-impact leadership team—at a time of great strategic and organizational change and uncertainty for the company.
Initially, the challenge was to help the team set and achieve new levels of performance. Changes in corporate governance left them with full accountability for seamless worldwide delivery of technology, but without full authority over various teams and functions integral to that delivery.
During the time of the engagement, the challenge would become even more complex in the wake of a strategic decision to transform the corporate structure of the enterprise. What started as a team development need soon led to something bigger. What was required was a cultural transformation and a move to a much more agile way of working.
As a result, the technology group leaders were striving to influence and improve the performance and culture of organizations across the globe at a time when their own roles and futures within the company were at risk.
JMW designed and conducted a customized leadership program for the Chief Technology Officer and 15 key staff members, consisting of four, three-day sessions over the course of one year, supported by consulting and one-on-one coaching between sessions. The effort was designed to help the team:
- Create a compelling vision for technology’s contribution to the business
- Effectively convey the vision to others
- Create a cultural shift to a more agile approach within the organization
- Forge improved and mutually committed working relationships within the team
- Equip team members with specific skills required to succeed with external constituents:
- Establishing consensus and alignment among parties with diverse interests
- Generating clear and unambiguous agreement regarding commitments and actions
- Maintaining productivity in spite of ongoing volatility and uncertainty
- Collaborating to find new opportunities for the company
- Develop methods and practices which would enable them to accelerate delivery of very specific short-term outcomes
Leadership team members reported the following links between improved delivery and skills they learned in the program:
- Effectively influencing key players throughout the company helped them more consistently make tangible progress toward delivery of initiatives
- More effectively managing meeting agendas helped them reach agreement on specific commitments and mobilize effective follow-through
- More effectively orienting, on-boarding, and integrating new members of the leadership team helped accelerate their collective efforts to meet key milestones.
Empowered by the compelling vision developed as a team, these IT leaders effectively raised the bar for their own performance and contribution. Working together, they were able to overcome significant barriers of global governance structures, as well as escalating organizational complexity and change. By remaining focused on the difference they could make, rather than on the impact of these difficulties, they were ultimately successful in delivering a wide variety of key global technology initiatives. Enhanced leadership capabilities led to a cultural transformation and increased agility.
In addition, individual team members targeted “breakthrough” objectives in critical areas where they had accountability but lacked authority.
These areas included meeting new standards for worldwide data security (and responding instantaneously to any conceivable breach), as well as effectively implementing a new system designed to insure interoperability across the globe.
By raising expectations beyond the comfort zone for themselves and others, they were able to instigate change. By choosing areas of such importance to the business—initiatives that could not be ignored—they were able to elicit participation and cooperation from groups who might otherwise have remained unresponsive.
The following excerpts from conversations with participants illustrated the impact of the program from their individual points of view:
I was able to take on a sizeable challenge and deliver a result in six months which, in the past, I would have doubted I could deliver in a full year.
Even though the program took place during a time of transition, by participating, I was able to make a commitment to that transition, and have it go as smoothly as possible – rather than resist the changes.
Using the tools I learned in the program, I dedicated my focus to shorter-term gains and results—things I knew I could make possible, even if I didn’t know what the future would be for me within the company.