Leadership Advisory Consulting

Boardroom Support

The Issue: During a difficult time of organizational transition for this $1 billion+ global life sciences company, its CEO privately informed the Board of her intent to retire within two years.   The CEO felt strongly that her successor should be named from within; the Board had equally strong reservations about such narrow search parameters. Both sides needed to agree on an approach for answering this succession question that would be based on the company’s strategic business plan.

The Process: The Board retained Hayes, Brunswick to prepare an audit of the Company's succession plan and planning process.  Each member of the Board was interviewed individually on critical areas, including their concerns and objectives for the company, views of the strengths and development needs of the leadership team, and requirements for making the succession project successful.  The CEO was also interviewed extensively about the same issues, as well as her vision and thoughts on the future of the current leadership team.  The job specifications and recruitment process for the CEO search were constructed from these exercises.

A comprehensive leadership assessment and planning program was designed to facilitate individual meetings with key executives; among the tools deployed were 360o evaluations, self-assessments inventories, and interviews.  Insights regarding the managerial strengths and challenges of the leadership team would later be shared with each executive as part of a broader leadership development initiative.

The Assessment: While many members of the current leadership team were very strong leaders with many key competencies required of the new CEO, the assessment process revealed that the ideal person for the position was not among them. 

The Feedback: The Board agreed and the search process was opened to external candidates, who were considered against the established criteria.  Unexpectedly, however, the Company, which had been struggling for a full two years on a difficult post-merger integration of a major acquisition, determined that its long-term viability required a significant restructuring, eventually selling off a business unit that had historically defined the Company.  This event had a considerable impact on the qualities and competencies required of the next CEO.  The search criteria specs were adjusted.

The Outcome: Given the Company's new challenges, it was readily apparent that recruiting outside candidates would be essential – and that's indeed where the person ultimately recruited into the CEO role was found. 

Considerable work had been devoted to strategic planning and leadership development during the course of the CEO search, resulting in someone well-suited to the challenges and opportunities the Company faced in its newly restructured form.   Although the members of the existing leadership team were passed over for the corner office job themselves, they saw outcome of the search to be understandable and fair. Therefore they not only accepted the new CEO but also saw him as well suited for leading the company forward and worthy of their support.

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Post-Merger Integration

The issue: Two large professional services firms merged, and one senior IT management team was formed with members from both organizations. Very different management cultures created the potential for conflict at a time when the rapid integration of their function was essential to the success of the firm.

The process: Each member of the senior team was interviewed by Hayes Brunswick to examine how the group was functioning, as well as examine the challenges faced by each individual given their new roles and increased responsibilities. Meetings were then held to discuss concerns and potential strategies to maximize performance of the team and individuals.

The assessment: One firm's corporate culture emphasized the need for individual initiative and quick action, while the other stressed adherence to well-established processes. This difference, combined with clashes in personalities and with the anxieties that accompany mergers, resulted in miscommunication, mistrust and friction.

The feedback: The implications of the assessment were discussed with each team member as well as the team leader. Facilitated meetings were held to discern how to resolve differences and communicate more effectively.

The outcome: Each team member has become more comfortable in his or her role and in dealing with the other members of the team. They are now an effective and well-integrated group, combining the strengths of both organizations.

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Team Facilitation, Conflict Resolution and Strategic Alignment

The issue: Senior management at a major corporation was experiencing friction and conflict within a key team of executives as the result of an outside hire.

The process: Over the course of one week, Hayes Brunswick (HB) interviewed the team of eight senior executives, first individually, and then in small groups of two or three. HB gathered each executive's views about their challenges and opportunities in working with the new hire. HB then facilitated small group meetings in which stylistic, communication, and managerial issues were addressed. When the full team was assembled, HB served as a catalyst for the discussion of the ways in which interpersonal issues had been hampering the group's effectiveness.

The assessment: Although the executive's interpersonal style was an issue, there was also an element of paradox to the situation - the executive's differing perspective was both the cause of conflict and the very reason that he had been hired. HB discovered that the process of integrating this executive was also related to the functioning and cohesiveness of the organization as a whole.

The feedback: Hayes Brunswick provided the new hire with the anonymous feedback from his peers as well as a set of recommendations for how he could collaborate with them more effectively. HB also shared with the group some perspectives on the group's own strengths and developmental needs.

The outcome: The eight senior executives reached a consensus on how to better communicate with one another and how to integrate the newly hired executive into the team. The group also made decisions about how to clarify roles and responsibilities in order to ensure that conflicts and tensions did not re-emerge. The new hire has succeeded at his job and the team has efficiently and effectively responded to ongoing challenges.

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Leadership Development

Executive Assessment

The issue: The senior council of a large insurance company could not reach a consensus with regard to hiring a new training director. Two well-qualified candidates were vying for the position. An objective, independent perspective was needed to break the deadlock.

The process: Hayes Brunswick interviewed the senior council in order to understand the causes for the disagreement over the candidate. HB then met with and thoroughly assessed the motivational, behavioral, and stylistic attributes of each potential hire.

The assessment: The choice between the candidates was emblematic of a larger question that the council needed to address regarding strategic plans to grow the business. Each individual represented one potential strategy.

The feedback: Hayes Brunswick made a presentation to the council demonstrating how the choice between the two potential hires was actually a choice between two strategies for growth. HB also presented the results of its assessments of both candidates, showing how each would be well qualified to execute a given strategy.

The outcome: The council reached a consensus about who to hire and which strategy for growth to pursue. Working under the clear mandate established by the council, the individual chosen has proven highly successful.

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Executive Coaching

The issue: Senior management at a multi-billion dollar consumer products manufacturer was concerned about the interpersonal style and managerial effectiveness of a valuable executive whose performance was falling below expectations.

The process: Over the course of a month, Hayes Brunswick (HB) conducted interviews with the executive and his peers, superiors and subordinates. Collecting a variety of confidential and anonymous perspectives, HB was able to raise and explore many unspoken issues.

The assessment: The executive's style was an issue, but HB also helped the organization realize that part of the problems the executive was having derived from larger organizational issues such as illogical reporting relationships and ineffective communication routines.

The feedback: Hayes Brunswick prepared a candid and constructive set of recommendations for the executive. HB then shared insights with senior management about larger organizational issues, helping the executive and the management team create and implement a strategy to effectively address the issues that had emerged.

The outcome: The executive's style improved. He has exceeded senior management's expectations and is currently four organizational levels higher than he was when HB worked with him. Additionally, HB helped the organization make structural and procedural changes that have lead to enduring benefits in productivity.

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Developing High Performance Teams

The issue: A cadre of newly promoted executives at a multinational Fortune 100 corporation was having difficulty making the transition from being individual contributors to being leaders.

The process: Hayes Brunswick interviewed the global director of the function along with his direct reports, and benchmarked best practices in leadership development at similar organizations.

The diagnosis: In order to assure their new senior roles, it was critical that the executives focus on the areas of strategy, delegation, and communication. It was also necessary to modify the general competency model in order to create a more customized tool with which to assess and develop these competencies.

The feedback: Hayes Brunswick facilitated a meeting that summarized the findings from the interviews, and presented possible options for moving forward. After receiving our input, the director authorized HB to proceed with the design and delivery of a pilot program, and approved the new competency model that Hayes Brunswick helped create.

The outcome: The pilot program, which had an experiential focus, including business simulations, lectures, role-plays, and written work involving 40 executives, was considered a success. In partnership with the human resources department, Hayes Brunswick modified and improved the program, and since the initial pilot program, over 200 other executives have participated.

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Expatriate Relocation Counseling

The Client: A Fortune 100 financial services company headquartered in New York with offices worldwide.

The Issue: The Company had been disappointed by several unsuccessful and costly overseas assignments among their high potential executives that resulted in their premature return to the United States.

The Process: Hayes Brunswick created a program to brief future expatriates and their families on the personal, familial, and professional implications of international assignments. After ensuring confidentiality, more in-depth discussions were held with executives and their spouses to anticipate any challenges that might emerge.

The Assessment: During the course of interviews with future expatriates, HB consultants learned that the executives had many concerns that would have had a negative impact on their performance had they not been addressed.

The Feedback: Hayes Brunswick consultants met with each individual and his or her family and, based on the assessment, gave them feedback on the specific challenges each was likely to face. We provided recommendations for proactive steps that could be taken both prior to and during the assignment.

The Outcome: The expatriates and their families all successfully adapted to the challenges of living abroad. The executives met or exceeded the Company's performance expectations.

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