Culture Metrics: Managing Director Role Development

A once fast growing electronics company had experienced a sales plateau. The Managing Director (MD) had serious doubts about the company’s ability to make any significant profits to finance the next necessary big step in sales growth. He felt the company was lucky as it had a great set of quality products, but the competition was beginning to catch up.

Historically, the company had developed a technical culture in which everyone was focused on quality in all products and service. However, this costs the company dearly in reduced returns. The next steps in market development were going to be costly, something the MD feared, as the company was already heavily geared and he could not see any apparent savings.

During an on-going review of his company’s training and development, the MD stated he had instructed his senior team to find new markets. They had disappointed him, and so he wanted to replace two of them with some new blood from outside the industry. He tried to generate a new cultural impetus with new thinking and energy.

With this in mind, he agreed to complete a Management Culture Orientation Questionnaire to see if it could shed some extra insights into his own work perspective, attitudes and beliefs.

The feedback highlighted several significant strengths:

  • Leadership

    This quality reflects a clear focus and strong commitment to company direction and values, and the ability to get a commitment to these factors from others.

  • Balanced Outlook

    This reflects the ability to stand back from any situation and see it objectively: without emotion. This includes having a strong presence of mind under pressure, having a broad perspective on issues and being realistic.

  • Political

    This reflects being politically aware, astute and in-touch with political forces and networks. It includes, promoting self-interests, but with diplomacy and tact.

Many MDs would love these qualities. Indeed they allow an individual to lead actively from the front while taking account of political opposition in an unemotional and balanced way.

He also had significant lows:

  • Efficiency

    This involves trying to get the most out of company resources by encouraging cost savings, improving processes, productivity and eliminating waste.

  • Action

    This includes having a strong sense of urgency, responding quickly to new demands and emergencies, working hard and ensuring completion of tasks.

  • Achievement

    This is the determination to succeed at a high level: to get results through persistence despite drawbacks and difficulties.
    During feedback of the MCOQ the MD took three hours to accept he was low on these last three factors.

After considerable reflection, he accepted that he was a significant contributor to the company’s current lackluster business performance. It’s not that he didn’t have the necessary skills, but that at the everyday level, he habitually ignored or downplayed the need to drive the business, to be more demanding of his directors, or to act with a sense of urgency and to be more efficient.

His natural style was to forge ahead with sales investment, to spend on building technical excellence and brand image, at any cost. While this worked reasonably well for several years business performance was never critically reviewed or scrutinized. Expectations were never high and were, therefore, generally met. The on-going vision of technical excellence and brand quality ate into efficiencies and profits.

Having accepted that his personal short-comings were significantly contributing to the business’s poor potential, he was in a position to quickly turn the situation around.

His natural leadership could now be directed towards more urgency, more stringent targets, more persistence and higher efficiencies.

In one year, one part of the company grew by 20%, the other smaller one by 40%.

It was not the senior team that was inherently deficient incompetence. It was that they were happy to continue with old habits and norms when circumstances changed.

The senior team has all now completed an MCOQ and experienced personal counseling and role development to shift their thinking and behavior to account for a new changed reality.

Without an objective assessment tool like the MCOQ would the MD have accepted he was the weak link in the management chain? Who would have the insight or the courage to tell the MD he was not performing? If someone did would they be believed?

The company’s morale and results are still growing.

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