A Fortune 50 financial services organization promotes a successful financial executive to a new role in sales. The position is an intentional ‘stretch’ to provide the executive with experience in both a different function as well as pushing him to expand his strong skills in analysis and data collection to be more market facing and decisive – two “must have” traits in sales. The individual brings a great deal of social capital to his role. He is well liked and respected, but immediately feels the pressure to act with more velocity and exude a greater confidence to the sales force. Whetstone is retained to assess his strengths and develop a leadership action plan involving intensive one-on-one executive/leadership development for the first 12 months in his new role.
This individual was an identified “high performer” in the organization who had been moved into sales to expand his operational experience and leadership competencies. Our first step was to interview his direct reports to understand their needs and expectations of a sales leader – which in this culture were diametrically opposed to the culture in the finance department. The results of the interviews, coupled with two assessment profiles, indicated that he simply could not rely on his former practice of methodical “fact finding” and be responsive to his field team. We developed a new system where he delegated the majority of research to his direct reports resulting in two benefits:
He was able to develop his people and inculcate important discipline around market intelligence.
He could respond more quickly without compromising on his process.
Success in one role does not beget success in another. In fact, in many cases, a leader moving into a new role must challenge himself/herself and recalibrate what they are contributing to the team – both in terms of raw skills and management inspiration. The discipline and data required in a finance role can be viewed as bureaucracy and micromanagement to a sales force.
This individual was very open to coaching and showed remarkable agility in terms of empowering his direct report team to create the process and system he needed to act with confidence and make timely decisions. His reliance on his team fostered a high level of trust and he earned a reputation for developing his people and mentoring the entire sales force. Within the year, he gained a second promotion and now holds one of the most senior positions in operations for the enterprise.