"Since you started working with my direct reports in 1999, and subsequently my entire team of 80 people in 2000 - 2001, I have seen direct and very tangible benefits from the work we have done together. Most immediately, our Regions overall performance in 2000 and 2001 has been the best in China in both profit and volume terms. This is directly attributable to the fact that my local managers and their teams are empowered to make local decisions, and have the confidence to make those decisions. Call it mental models or shared vision or improved communication, but it has worked."

David G. Brooks
Vice-President and Region Manager
Global Beverage Company
"The things I have noticed or that have happened in the past 6 months include a more productive atmosphere, a redefinition of career goals, a trust of the local staff by the expatriates and a sense of mutual dependence and respect for different functions with the operation."

Michael Potter, Managing Director
Market Behavior (Vietnam) Ltd.
"On a personal level I have benefited greatly from working with you, having learned about myself, my management style, and the changes I need to make to help the company get to the next phase in our development."

Amii Tam
Deputy Managing Director
Hong Kong and China Based Manufacturer and Exporter
"I initially engaged Chris as my executive coach to assist me in adapting my management style to the Asian culture. I was so pleased with the result that I also engaged Chris to help me and my management team to build a culture of trust, teamwork and "straight talk". In less than a year, we have coalesced as a management team, increased dramatically the speed of decision-making and improved results."

Stephen Groppi
Senior Vice President
Global Investment Bank

Concerns of the CEO

As a CEO, you know that there are many aspects to your role. Among other things you have to: 

  • Implement great strategy, mostly with fallible people
  • Think about the future while acting effectively today
  • Manage the egos of a senior team, and the fears of your workforce
  • Ensure that you change faster than your competitors, but slowly enough to stay in step with the market
  • Manage the expectations of investors, customers and suppliers
  • Make tough decisions while retaining loyalty in your company
  • Prepare to move on, while remaining committed every day
  • Create new leadership while continuing to lead

 Even though the challenges of the CEO role are great, at times it may seem that you don't really have the support that you need. Colleagues are careful what they say because of the status gap. The higher you go, the less feedback you get, even as your need for quality feedback increases. You often can't talk to other CEO's about what really matters to you because of the need to be circumspect in your affairs. And, family members are often unable to give the support that you might need, because they do not fully understand the issues with which you must grapple with.

Typical Scenarios

CEOs face many different scenarios, and these are mostly situations which they haven't been prepared for through either experience or the type of education that most of us are exposed to. Typical scenarios include:

Transitioning to the next generation

Merging two organizations

Conflict resolution within the senior team

Dealing with prima donnas

CEO Scenario 1: Transitioning to the next generation

For instance, you may be heading up a successful business in Asia. Your desire to retire is growing, yet neither the current managing shareholders, or the family members whom you have working in the business, are really performing at the level required. You want to take the company to the next level. You know that something needs to be done. What is the best way forward?

We have dealt with different companies in Asia, some of which faced this very dilemma. Every situation is different, and therefore the approach that we take is different each time. The following case illustrates what is possible.


The Background

A successful Asian business had grown to a significant size. The founder was about to turn 60 and was already beginning to think about succession. The founder's son was also working in the business, and the founder passionately wished for his son to take on the mantle of leadership for the business. Unfortunately, in the founder's eyes, the son could not yet live up to the expectations of the father.

The Brief

Chris Lonsdale was called in initially by the founder, with the intention of asking him to be the executive coach for the founder's son. The brief was to "prepare him to be the CEO".

The Approach

It was clear from the beginning of this assignment that more needed to be done than simply coach the founder's son. The founder, an extremely intelligent and competent man had, by virtue of his strength, helped to create an atmosphere of fear within the company. There was little meaningful communication between senior managers, and as a consequence, decisions were either not made, or "over-ruled by inaction". At the same time, good ideas were not being surfaced, thereby limiting the potential of the company.

In addition, the growth potential of the company could not be realized simply by developing the skills of one individual.

Clearly, working just to "make the son better" was not going to help this business. For one thing, it was obvious that the son had a better grasp on the business than he was being given credit for. Secondly, the difficulties in communication that the entire senior team faced, could account for many of the problems that were being blamed on the son. Given this situation, we took the following approach:

  • Initially, group work with the senior management team was the main focus. This involved getting members of the senior team to communicate effectively and authentically with each other, and resolve some difficult problems together. Some initial success led to increased levels of confidence and openness within the senior team, and the beginning of what we call a "platform of trust".
  • Once a platform of trust had been established, individual coaching work began with ALL members of the senior team. This individual coaching work was able to effectively address individual weaknesses that were helping to maintain dysfunctional group behaviors. The individual work was alternated with ongoing work with the entire senior team, enhancing the team dynamic for clarity and performance.???
  • As the senior team became stronger and more effective as a unit, development work moved more to enhancement of general leadership skills and strategic business skills. Chris Lonsdale was involved on the "front line" using Real-Time-Enabling© techniques to transfer mission critical skills as and when needed to build the business.

The Results

After several months the founder of the business began to feel more confident that, in time, his son would be able to take on the leadership of the business and grow the company to the next level. Within 12 months of starting the developmental process the company was able to win new business and new customers that, just a short time before, the team had felt were totally out of reach.

 The business grew by more than 30%, and the company is now poised for a further doubling of revenues.

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