Coaching a senior business executive to improve influence with his colleagues

A senior KAI consultant was brought in by a major Utilities organisation, based in the USA. This company provides electricity and natural gas across its state.

The business’s senior team, including the CEO and vice presidents, wanted the KAI practitioner to coach an individual in their legal department. This person was at a senior level, with strategy responsibilities, but had been put in ‘executive jail’ due to some outspoken statements about the industry’s future and what he perceived as the leadership team’s unwillingness to address coming challenges. This resulted in a souring of relationships with the company’s senior team and the executive becoming outcast.

The senior KAI consultant aimed to help this individual:

  • Understand how he differed from colleagues & company culture; in how he perceived broad issues and the possible solutions and how he described them
  • Use this newfound knowledge to improve cooperation and influence
  • Slowly integrate back into the business’s decision-making circle

The individual was willing to be coached, as he was frustrated that he no longer had any say in company affairs.

The consultant therefore administered the Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) Inventory and other inventories to help the executive better understand his own character and how to improve collaboration with others.

 

Identifying the individual’s problem-solving style

Through conversation, the KAI consultant quickly realized the executive was extremely intelligent and likely preferred innovative problem-solving approaches. Completion of the KAI confirmed that he was a highly innovative thinker (with a KAI score of 124).

Given the adaptive internal culture of the Utilities organisation, the executive was notably different from his colleagues.

The consultant therefore helped him to:

  • Understand how he differed from colleagues
  • Develop a more understanding approach towards adaptive thinkers
  • Consider how his language and persuasive communications could be adjusted to make sense to his adaptive peers

This latter point was particularly valuable. The consultant helped the individual to realise that adaptive people use different language from innovative individuals. Therefore, wording was important in creating shared understanding.

Soon after, the individual met with the executive team individually and acknowledged his past insensitivities. He asked for their support and recommendations as he attempted to improve his approach with them. This resulted in a mutual agreement between the two parties, in which all agreed to move forwards with a ‘clean slate’.

Improving the individual’s standing within the business

Following the executive’s discussion with the senior team, his standing within the business greatly improved. He was soon:

  • Able to cooperate productively with colleagues without abandoning his point of view
  • Integrated back into strategic decision-making discussions
  • Selected to head-up a major project, concerning future company and state-wide industry direction

This latter project has since successfully concluded under the individual’s guidance.

This progress was all only possible because of the understanding provided by the KAI and the practitioner administering it.

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