Building strong executive board relationships
Success story: Improving the Chair-CEO relationship with paired coaching
A well-known, high-street retailer was in crisis. It had only 12 months to turn things around before it ceased to be viable. The relationship between CEO and Chairman had become increasingly fraught. The newly hired CEO was a strong personality with a reputation for being blunt. His tendency to rule to roost lead to conflict with some of the executive team. The Chairman in particular felt powerless. Unable to control the CEO, he had threatened to leave. The CEO was indifferent to the Chairman’s potential resignation, but wanted to remain in good stead with the company. This interpersonal conflict had left the board and organisation divided, as the CEO’s abrasive approach had yielded results in a short amount of time.
In crisis situations, egos become entangled with business priorities and mediation can help re-establish balance. The Chairman sought paired coaching to help address the CEO’s unbridled dominance. He needed to recapture some lost standing for the benefit of the organisation and for his own self-esteem. Our accredited executive board coach first met the Chairman and CEO separately to understand their positions. Following this, a series of paired coaching sessions with both individuals present enabled both parties to express their perspectives and concerns. With all their cards on the table, the coach was there to establish boundaries and refocus the dialogue when necessary, ensuring the sessions remained civil, productive and focussed on critical tasks at hand.
Paired coaching allowed the Chairman and CEO to rebuild mutual respect and understand and empathise with each other. They learned to keep conversations civil and on task, and where they couldn’t reach agreement, they still maintained an effective relationship. Both remained in post and created more alignment with the board and executive team, allowing the organisation to weather the storm.