What if achieving my next level of success lies in empowering others?

One of my clients suggested Phil contact me because his sportswear manufacturing company needed a breakthrough. At our first coaching session Phil told me it seemed that his company had become stale. I asked him what “stale” felt like.

He said, “Most days are the same. I feel like we’re just going through the motions and maintaining the status quo.” Phil also revealed that while things were fine financially, he wanted to get to the next level. I asked, “What’s at the next level?” After thinking for a few minutes, Phil said, “Fresh ideas, I guess. And team members who are all in.”

So I asked Phil what roadblocks might be keeping the company from achieving the breakthrough he wanted. As Phil and I worked together to identify those roadblocks, a couple of issues became evident:

  • Having started the company, Phil had continued to carry the responsibility for its success. Everything started and ended with him. This had created a logjam.
  • Over the years, as people left the company, one of the most common reasons was that working there felt impersonal. They didn’t feel like they had a say in the direction of the company. They were just carrying the out orders instead of feeling like vital members of the team.

Working alongside Phil, we developed achievable steps that he could take to remove the roadblocks. Although these changes felt risky for Phil, he knew they were needed if the company was going to experience a breakthrough. 

Over the next couple of months, Phil began implementing the steps we had identified. This involved:

  • Planning and role-playing specific aspects of weekly team meetings to include greater collaboration among the members
  • My observing the dynamics of the meetings
  • Debriefing with Phil on what did and did not work in each meeting

By the time we completed our coaching relationship, Phil had the confidence to continue cultivating his more inclusive and less owner-centric style of leadership. At Phil’s request, I met with him occasionally to talk about the benefits and challenges of leading differently.

Some time later, Phil told me the company was experiencing the breakthrough he had envisioned. He’d seen how taking a lower profile and allowing others to share in leadership fueled greater creativity and allowed people to see how they were contributing to the success of the company.

* This story summarizes an actual coaching relationship between Dave and a client. The client’s name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.