Case Study (Australian based, Chinese owned company, Retail)

1. Prior to the current CEO

  • Operating at a financial loss. Lack of business acumen: Short-term focus, poor timing of decisions, no strategic direction, no KPIs or clear role responsibilities
  • Communication: Inconsistent and confusing messages
  • Reduced market share: Uninspiring brand and reputation, copying rather than creating fashion trends
  • A manufacturing mindset rather than a marketing company
  • Leadership team: Disempowered, Dysfunctional (passive, victim approaches), No sense of pride in their work (One individual said he was ashamed to admit he worked for the company, if asked on a Saturday night!)
  • Internal environment: Volatile & hostile team dynamics rampant throughout company, little trust & consequently minimal transparency
  • Cultural Differences: Frustration in Australia with the level of control exerted by the Chinese way of doing business (resulting in employees becoming more passive, taking no accountability or responsibility, clear dominant / submissive relationships)


2. Interventions Implemented with Current CEO

Mandate from CEO: Accelerate and consolidate the potential of the Leadership Team

Initial Focus: Leadership Team

  • Leadership team facilitation to establish functional dynamics and communication protocols
  • Complete Individual Leadership Profiles & Report for CEO and Leadership Team (N = 10)
  • Individually Mentor Leadership Team (N = 10)
  • Continual Leadership Team Development: Modelling world's best business practice of CEO to rest of the leadership team, relationship building, conflict resolution

Secondary Focus: Functional Departments

Culture established at the leadership level was then permeated throughout organisation:

  • Sales Team: Sustainable Architecture / Annual Sales Conferences
  • Product and Planning Teams: Communication protocols & relationship building
  • HR Team: Communication protocols & relationship building


3. Today

The intervention strategies have occurred over the last 3 years. The health of any organisation is contingent on unleashing the potential of each person who works inside the organisation.

Today, the company enjoys:

  • The largest growth for the last 15 years
  • Strong, positive, robust financials
  • A leadership team that is empowered, curious and looks towards the future. While each person takes full responsibility for the performance of their own area, they also personally accept responsibility for the success of the leadership team. This means there are no excuses or blaming. They are self-motivated to pursue world's best practice and continually bring new learnings into the leadership forum. Individual egos are put to one side when they are conduct their team meetings. This results in all aspects of the business being rigorously challenged without heads of functional areas feeling threatened. They are a strong, cohesive team who demonstrate passion and commitment to building success. They continue to self-monitor the dynamics within the team, so that the intervention strategies do not loose momentum
  • An internal culture that is positive, vibrant, energetic and relationships based on equality. Dominant/submissive relationships are not tolerated. There is complete transparency in all functional areas. Like the leadership team, all functional areas are self-monitoring. People resolve their issues effectively and quietly. There is virtually no negative corridor politics. If this does occur, then the rest of the team quickly "pull the offender into line". Dysfunctional dynamics are dying through atrophy.
  • The CEO has established a solid relationship with the Chinese owners. Because of this mutual respect, Australia has become more autonomous in their decision-making. The owners are standing back and allowing the leadership team to run their areas more independently. This is a considerable shift from the conventional Chinese way of conducting business.
  • Internally, the CEO is freed up to concentrate on strategically positioning the company in the future, rather than being distracted by internal bickering
  • It is now a sustainable, healthy business. The CEO is now extending business opportunities globally.