Coaching Case Study: Steering the Ship

A ship needs more than a good captain to remain seaworthy; it also needs a helmsman, a navigator, an engineer, and other specialized crew members all working in unison to steer the ship where it needs to go. As captain of your organization, it’s your job to make sure that each member of your crew is excelling. That means not only seeking out opportunities to improve the organization as a whole, but also ensuring that your individual employees are fulfilled and challenged by the work they do.

But as the ‘captain,’ you’re not expected to make every decision alone, nor should you. Sometimes you need the advice of an equal, but as an executive, it may be hard to find the right channel for the sort of advice you need.

When I began working with Joe Samia, CEO of a mechanical contracting company serving clients throughout the state of Kansas, his partners had asked me to step in to help Joe hone his leadership skills. Joe was facing several challenges at the time. One was making sure that his team was functional and that each employee was in a position that made the best use of their skills. According to Joe, “There were several challenges during the [coaching] process. One was recognizing who was doing what and whether or not they were sitting in the right seat, so to speak. The other was trying to understand my team—things like getting feedback from them about what they thought of me as a leader, and working together in creating new opportunities for the company.” As an executive, it can be hard to take criticism from your employees, but making sure your ‘crew’ is on board with your leadership style is crucial for everyone’s success.

Joe also benefited from participating in the ExecuLink™ forum. Of the program, Joe says “It’s always interesting to see what other executives would do in a similar situation. My gain from the forum is getting a broader perspective and learning about different management styles that others use at their organizations. I learn new approaches at the forum and then apply them. There is also a lot of good discussion about situations that seem common to everyone—whether it’s issues with HR or micromanaging, for instance.” No challenge is entirely unique to you or your organization—the odds are that someone else has been in a similar position at some point and has overcome it. Being able to share your experiences with others can provide invaluable emotional and psychological benefits, and it also allows you to give back by sharing your expertise with others.

Joe’s experience with the forum led him to implement a similar program within his company: “We also have held a similar sort of forum within the management group here in our company, and it has generated dialogue amongst the managers . . . We communicate better and are more effective at fostering growth opportunities, whether it is for an individual or the organization as a whole.” Above all, communication is what maintains the health of an organization. Once communication breaks down, the entire ship begins to sink.

Don’t let your ship deviate from its course. Seek the advice of others, and consider seeking the services of an experienced executive coach.

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