On Wednesday of this week, I was fortunate enough to go along to the 11th Australian Conference on Culture and Leadership presented by Human Synergistics, in Sydney. Having recently used the LSI at my workplace, I was keen for a refresher and also hoped to get some inspiration on how to change behaviour in my workplace when it seems like an impossible task.
Once again, the best way for me to learn is from experience, and that was why it was fantastic listening to Mike Shove (former Managing Director and CEO of CSC Australia).
Mike was a highly engaging speaker and began by explaining his somewhat typical CEO response to a bad start in his role as MD and CEO at CSC. He said that things weren’t going well with his leadership group and business results were poor. He said he responded with some executive coaching and a ‘retreat’ where they you know “hugged some trees”, did some orienteering and had fun.
Not surprisingly, this didn’t work and things continued to worsen. CSC obviously had standards around behaviour, but they were essentially a number based organisation that also needed to achieve its targets.
Mike credits his HR Manager at the time for suggesting that he try the Human Synergistics circumplex; and more specifically the Leadership Impact tool. Mike was happy to give it a go because he thought he was relatively well liked and that he was an effective leader.
Now I’ve seen some bad results but this-hands down- is the worst I have ever seen and by Mike’s own admissions, he holds the world record for worst circumplex. This just makes his success even more incredible.
Where do you even go from there?
Mike stuck at it, engaged his leadership team and then looked to the organisational culture. It was a long journey but one that derived huge amounts of learning. The results are nothing short of amazing in terms of the impact that it had on the leadership team, organisational culture and also the bottom line.
If this is something that interests you, I would recommend you check out Mike’s presentation on the Human Synergistics site. I know I’ll be sending it around to my staff that have recently completed the process.
One more thing that was truly impressive was a story Mike shared with us about a senior member of staff. Now this guy was a sales type who was achieving amazing results. However, as Mike described there was a trail of blood left by these results, and this was fitting as the circumplex indicated loads of red in terms of competitive, power and oppositional traits. Now many leaders would argue that these traits are what it takes to be that successful sales guy or that as long as he was achieving the targets- it was worth it.
In being committed to what they set out to achieve in terms of culture, Mike spoke with this sales guy and they ended up parting ways. This move is of huge significance to the organisation in terms of behavioural expectations. It sends the message- “it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job, you still need to contribute to a positive organisational culture”. This is an action I’m not sure many CEO’s would be willing to take, but sales results kept increasing and CSC never skipped a beat.
What a great example and so many learnings. I hope I’m able to facilitate this kind of change in my workplace because I know the results would be amazing.
Do you have any other stories like this you’d be willing to share?