Executive Development: Gail, Executive in FTSE 50 insurance business
Strategically-minded, self-analytical and technically outstanding, Gail had been identified as high potential for the organisation.
She was transitioning from a role as a functional lead specialising in Strategy and M & A, into general management: IG were brought in to unlock her full capability.
I was in a role that I wanted and enjoyed: but I didn’t feel convinced I was giving it my all. I needed to understand what was holding me back, and how to take myself to the next level.
What were your expectations?
I was looking for more than just a couple of sessions that scratched the surface and then sent me off to do the work on my own. I wanted a comprehensive and functional development plan based on my specific needs and goals – something that would hold water in the long term.
What was most effective about the work?
The 360-degree feedback was incredibly valuable – hearing what a large cross section of people had said about me was invaluable in helping to question my pre-conceived self-perception. IG collected the data on the phone, which was much better than the usual paper-based tick-box exercise.
I was also surprised about how deeply we delved into my past, and how helpful that was in understanding how I function at work. For example, coming from a community-based background with a strong father figure did have an impact on how I managed my team, who were mostly men who were older than me.
“I realised I needed to be ‘appropriately unreasonable’ more often – that it’s OK to be unhappy about someone’s performance or behaviour, and say so in a way that’s productive to them changing their behaviour rather than me taking it upon myself to fix it. Dan (the Founder/Director of IG) was very challenging at times, but always in a positive way. He helped me tackle the elements of my work that I find really uncomfortable, digging deep into what holds me back. The brief was never set in stone: if we needed to change things to suit me, we did. Dan was always available to give support outside sessions, chatting situations through and helping me prepare for key interactions.”
How has the coaching changed the way you approach your role?
I’ve always been analytical and had high levels of self-accountability. But the work with IG has instilled a habit in me to reflect far more on my behaviour, how I can impact others, and how I can influence their behaviour.
I’ve adjusted my leadership style to match the company – coming from an M & A background, it was about bringing high performing people together to create momentum. Now, I take more time out to think about my team and how to drive the behaviour we need in order to hit our objectives.
I’ve completely changed my team, too, adjusting the gender balance and bringing in new capabilities. I’ve catalysed a different dynamic: there’s more friction than before, more diversity of thinking, more space to share and challenge each other, more honesty and openness, and more collaboration.
I’ve gone from thinking I have to tell people what to do, to asking how we can work together as a team to reach a shared objective.
I’ve also gone from having quite a rigid idea about what leadership and discipline should look like (from male role models), to realising that I can find my own way that works – I don’t have to ‘power up’ to get what I need out of people.
I’m having good, honest, challenging conversations – and getting feedback from people that they really appreciate my approach.
The work with IG has met my expectations, and exceeded them.