Tough Love

How we partnered with a tech icon to develop one of their teams
Why was the work important?

This was the first time our client was able to bring her global team of 70 people together in person, in part due to the rapid scaling of the function, and also because of the COVID pandemic. The company was born in a global pandemic, and with the return to office, they wanted to take a deeper look at how they engaged as a group. This development program was a critical moment for the team to learn together, deepen relationships, celebrate their accomplishments, and strategize for the future. To meet the demands of a business growing at meteoric speed, team members in this function had to:

  • Communicate effectively with each other.
  • Lead through savvy influencing internally and externally.
  • Work collaboratively, especially inter-departmentally.
  • Be deeply aware of their impact and how to leverage their strengths to build connection, trust, and credibility with colleagues and clients.
What did we do?

We designed a team development program that would engage 70 people from six continents, each with differing levels of management and leadership experience, being mindful of their diverse learning styles and interpersonal styles. We:

  • Created spaces for self-reflection and peer coaching so that team members could explore their relational and influencing styles.
  • Helped shape the team culture through invigorating group challenges and whole-team learning.

A profound element of the program was holding up a mirror to the team by sharing our observations of how they interacted together, their collective strengths and stretches, and how the team needed to evolve in order to achieve their ambitious goals. For such an enthusiastic, positive team that had scored some outstanding business results, our push-back did not sit comfortably with all the team members initially. Some were defensive and tried to explain away our insights. It was important for us to hold the line so that the team could understand the need for them to become more candid and have more direct conversations with each other. We talked about the role of candor in leadership and business relationships, in concert with trust and empathy.

What was the impact?

Following our intervention, the client polled her leadership team to identify ways they could communicate better. She also created a task force made up of members from around the world. They identified several key objectives for becoming a more effective global team including:

  • Candid and empathetic communication
  • Championing change
  • Making the world/globe smaller
  • Giving everyone a voice regardless of level
  • Making everyone a leader

One priority that they put into practice is Comfort in Communication, an approach for leaders to have honest conversations and give honest feedback, by sharing collective wisdom and demonstrating care for one another. They embedded the approach during performance reviews, a time which can often be tough for team members. Since then, leaders have been practicing:

  • Providing continuous feedback loops beyond performance reviews through regular team meetings and one-to-one conversations.
  • Creating environments where people commit to sharing out freely and creating space for others to do the same.
  • Getting to understand their direct reports’ lives beyond just work.
  • Asking for feedback from their direct reports.
  • When feedback is resisted, seeking support from peers to give the feedback in surround sound from multiple, credible sources.
  • Giving specific positive feedback naming the situation, behavior, and impact, on their internal collaboration platform, rather than just using emojis.

Leaders are now taking more ownership for having hard performance conversations and giving actionable feedback, which in turn is contributing to the upskilling of global team members.

What did the client say?

MindsOpen knew us better than we knew ourselves on first evaluation, quantitatively and qualitatively. They not only accurately assessed the functional health of the team but also identified where our communication gaps and behaviors were present, and how they could play out if left unaddressed. From MindsOpen we got astute insights, observations that rang true, and most importantly, tangible and actionable solutions that would change the dynamics and behaviors of our team for the better.

What our clients
say about us

MindsOpen takes the time to understand the root issues. The coaches have a way of connecting with different types of leaders to get the most out of them in a group and in individual interactions. They approach their work in an authentic way that draws even the strongest naysayers in. During a complex engagement with a team in the business I support, our MindsOpen coach had a way of eliciting the participation of a couple of people I was not sure would open up to the process. They knew how to push people just so. The assessment tools they utilize offer a round understanding of the individual and help to push forward interesting dialogue and insight about other team members. MindsOpen is a fantastic partner. Our coaches are always available to offer insight/suggestions and they have helped me in my approach significantly. You feel like you are working with the very best when engaging MindsOpen.

D.G., HR Executive, Real Estate Investment

They understand nuance, organizational difference, and don't try label individuals or companies, or define people as a "type" in relation to what or who they are. Their approach is a journey. It does not feel like you are being led to a certain point but are facilitated in finding your way. They are clear on objectives but very agile on how you get there. For the first time, I enjoy my coaching sessions. My coach has a very good style. He is challenging but empathetic; listens and understands well; is highly astute; and brings people out of themselves to create an open and candid, but safe environment for teams to engage. I also just felt a connection, trust, and liked him. He is very human in his approach and creates space for me to be vulnerable and honest.

K.S., Chief Operating Officer, Global Law Firm

Their direct style is appreciated. They see into your soul. Other providers are too fluffy compared to MindsOpen. They deliver feedback in a concise and calm way. They see through all the barriers to get to the essence of a person or team. They make a meaningful difference to individuals and teams that go through the rigor of the customized plan. The best I have seen at cutting through the BS and identifying the core of the issue(s). Hence, people learn and grow quickly.

M.T., CEO, Beverage Industry

Leadership journeys today are incredibly complex, intensely demanding and ever evolving. Neil’s style - rooted in enduring principles and concepts; challenging yet caring; highly personalized - is well suited to this environment. His coaching has transformed the way I think about and practice leadership. It’s benefited me in innumerable ways, professionally and even personally. More importantly, it’s benefited the organization I lead and the next generation of leaders coming through it. That ‘multiplier effect’ is priceless. We would not be the organization we are today without him.

Martin Whittaker, CEO, Just Capital

After working with MindsOpen, our leaders have been much more aware of their blind spots and are more self-aware in general. They have improved in their leadership abilities and have also built their confidence. It's been great that our leaders can choose from a few different professionals to ensure they are comfortable with their coach. We have really appreciated the rigor of the psychological insight being taken into consideration. We also love the balance of the customization for each individual with the consistency we are able to gain across leaders. The MindsOpen coaches keep in mind the different needs, skills, and abilities of each of our leaders. That’s been really wonderful for us.

M.K. Head of HR, non-profit sector

MindsOpen is a great way to summarize my coaching experience as we worked on my development, leadership purpose, and style. My coach’s ability to combine psychological rigor with significant global experience across a broad range of industries has unlocked my leadership potential and significantly accelerated my personal journey. Senior executives and mentors recognized this evolution and promoted me from a high potential “diamond in the rough” to a successful leader leading a multi-billion spend, global transformation program. My leadership brand became visible to others through a clearly defined set of characteristics that guide my behaviors every day, resulting in me successfully engaging the wider organization to act and create value for the business. My MindsOpen coach helped me identify and shape these characteristics in line with my past, present, and future, which makes it very natural for me to include them in the way I lead.

J.V., Global procurement executive, Food Industry

The MindsOpen team finds synergies and aligns executives on their ways of working amidst some of the most challenging team dynamics. MindsOpen takes an inside-out approach by getting leaders to better understand themselves first, their strengths and gaps. These insights form the basis of understanding and working better with others. They are true experts at what they do, thorough, and results-oriented.

A.T., Chief People Officer

We partner with MindsOpen on succession and assessments. We choose them because of the quality of their work and their depth of expertise. They are a trusted partner, whose approach is unique, insightful, and highly credible.

D.M. Chief People Officer, Financial Services