Last updated: August 11

Keep your people and then profit! 

Choose conversation over termination and resignation

One of our most powerful management tools at Westgate is the DISC Leadership Assessment.

Avoid costly terminations and enhance performance by learning how to approach the board with confidence or how to approach your operating partner with a key issue.

Optimizing business performance begins with retention and keeping key people on your team will demand it.

Don’t let a misunderstanding get in the way of reaching your exit plan. It’s not necessary when you have a few simple tools in your toolbox. CEO turnover and its cost to investors, reputational damage to the brand, and friction with employees are all risks associated with poor communication.

I was speaking with my friend and Head of HR for a large healthcare organization recently and she expressed her dismay that employees, even at the senior level, would rather resign than have a frank conversation with their manager about an issue that causes concern. Even senior managers would rather avoid such a conversation than deal with an issue and sometimes choose termination or resignation versus having a simple conversation.

I believe that’s a tremendous waste of organizational human resources. Don’t you?

Avoiding risk

Our tool, the DISC Leadership Assessment

As an impartial and objective third party, each person on the team meets with me privately after they complete a 10-20 minute questionnaire (trusted by hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide and scientifically validated). We discuss the results in a 20-40 minute Zoom or telephone call and the executive can begin using their new resource immediately with their peer team, their board, and their direct reports.

The conversation takes place in a quiet, private, confidential, and safe environment where we review their leadership assessment as it relates to them. Then we review the assessment as it relates to others. Then we review the assessment as it relates to their team.

After each person meets with me privately, we come together as a group, and I complete a team leadership debrief. There is no personal information shared during the team debrief. The debrief is a review of the team composition to help each member of the team learn how the team is comprised. There are certain behavioral combinations on teams that can sometimes create friction points. Once the friction points are known, they are much easier to address in terms of the communication styles of each member of the team and each team member’s preference for receiving and expressing their opinions.

We discuss intention vs behavior (interpretations).

During your most recent board meeting, the chair of the audit committee continues to look at her phone while you’re presenting the funding proposal for division expansion of one of your business lines. You’ve not had a connection to her since she joined the board two quarters ago. Now you’re put on edge because of her incessant preoccupation with her phone. Interpretation is tricky. Is she deliberately dismissing your proposal, or is she preoccupied with something unrelated? Either way it’s jarring your confidence and taking you off balance.

Given she is also the CEO of another company in the midst of a crisis, it’s likely her behavior is unrelated to your presentation. But, it’s difficult to ignore, for anyone delivering such an important piece of content.

Our tool helps to understand the behavioral styles of others so that we can be objective about our interpretations of behavior while honoring the relationship.

Meeting

How does the tool help?

The leadership tool is easy to understand and is a lasting and sustainable tool that will help you predict the behavior of yourself and others, thereby reducing potential friction in your organization, suppliers, investors, customers, and other key stakeholders.

When you understand the preferences of others, you can oftentimes predict their behavior, adjust your own behavior accordingly and create a positive conversation you would otherwise avoid. Some people are spontaneous and enjoy last-minute changes and decisions whereas others prefer a more planned approach and don’t appreciate it when things are changed at the very last minute.

The tool is used to understand the styles and how to address each style appropriately. Don’t treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat them the way they want to be treated.

Example:

You are the newly appointed CEO for a leading SaaS company, and you now have the responsibility to build relationships with both the board as well as your executive colleagues and the managers that report to you.

Building relationships in a genuine way can take time. This tool helps speed up this process while maintaining authenticity because you can determine the communication styles that best matches the behavior styles of your team.

Let’s say that a member of the board is highly conscientious, introverted, and indirect. You are considered a driver, extroverted, very goal-oriented, and value time efficiency. Building a relationship with someone that is very different from you requires an understanding of their behavioral style and how they perceive respectful communication.

Although it isn’t how you prefer to be spoken to, you may need to take some extra time in communicating with this board member, include as many details as possible, and be very clear on what the goals are. You don’t need to spend time sharing personal anecdotes or asking them how their weekend was.

But with Sharron (another board member), you would because she values that connection as a highly influential and people-oriented leader.

Conflict in the workplace is common, yet it isn’t surprising. No matter who you are, the majority of people are different from you.

Everyone,

  • Thinks differently
  • Decides differently
  • Uses time differently
  • Communicates differently
  • Handles emotions differently
  • Manages stress differently
  • Deals with conflicting opinions differently

There are none worse, none better; just different

This article explores one of our most powerful management tools in various contexts.

Westgate's version of depicting DISC

Westgate Leadership Assessment when there’s a merger of two organizations

After the deal closes, new relationships need to form—and quickly. Jumpstart this process with a DISC Leadership Assessment for the CEO/Founder and his/her new team.

When the CEO inherits a team post-close of a merger, or a founder who’s new to the board relationship and who’s never reported to an investor or board member, perhaps former founders who are suddenly thrust into the CEO role with so many new formal and informal reporting relationships…it can all be overwhelming and overwhelm can interfere with forward momentum and timely decision-making.

Transition plans aside, when two cultures converge, the CEO is now tasked with navigating five key stakeholder groups: the Operating Partner, the board, the new team, employees, and customers. The continuity of customer service is paramount, but that journey can be tricky as the integration team works in the background to carefully integrate accounting, HR, and payroll systems. When the CEO is aware of the communication styles of the stakeholders, especially for those closest to them (board and direct reports), the pace of change is amplified because friction is reduced, and decisions are made faster.

Corporate meeting

Westgate Leadership Assessment for startups

Entrepreneurs make fast decisions and move quickly to get to their break-even point and reduce their burn rate. Potential friction on this type of a team happens when there are several members jockeying for leadership positions despite the presence of an established leader or CEO. We’ve often witnessed start-ups struggle with lack of boundaries and issues related to role ambiguity simply because of the drive to lead.

Case study: The CFO of a tech start-up was consistently interfering with the production manager’s process. Although well intentioned, the CFO was causing friction for the production team when she would drop into the production plan unannounced. Both high drivers, the friction is caused by a COO and CFO who are both high drivers.

The solution is to understand the other’s intentions rather than their actions. “I appreciate your offer to help, Mortimer. My preference is to refer to our SOP and team engagement process. I will reach out to you when appropriate.”

This is a better solution than avoiding the CFO altogether, thereby creating friction on the team, by circumventing the CFO and approaching the COO directly.

Executive Meeting

Westgate Leadership Assessment for newly appointed CEOs and their team

The first 18 months are pivotal to the success of the new CEO. A leadership assessment can help nurture relationships early on thereby avoiding costly missteps early that can derail the CEO’s onboarding plan. Managing relationships with the board of directors as well as with the senior management team, and beyond, requires self-awareness at a delicate time in the evolution of the leadership team.

Once the CEO has onboarded, a new journey begins with the board. Navigating the journey requires self-awareness and understanding of the self and the board. Aveling, with the help of me (Maureen Farmer), created a schedule of meetings with each member of the board to deepen engagement and build rapport for what would be a very busy year.

We began by understanding each board member in preparation. The preparation demonstrates deference and respect for the board director and we left no stone unturned. The Chair of the Audit Committee had a very different style than the Chair of the Nominating & Governance Committee. One was more direct, quiet, and discerning while the other was more outgoing and social. How we approached the meeting was very different. For Bandi, as the Audit Committee Chair, we knew he was very data-driven and time conscious. We didn’t waste his time. Donalda, the Chair of the Nom/Gov Committee was more social and relaxed. We took our time to build rapport.

In both situations, we treated them the way they want to be treated—not the way we want to be treated. Our approach builds rapport and trust.

Westgate Leadership Assessment when there’s a change in board composition

Change is seldom easy, even for the most resilient of leaders. When values misalign and intentions are questioned, a DISC Leadership Assessment can empower the CEO with insights they can leverage in their relationship with the new board member and board as a whole.

After 17 years as the COO and then CEO of this energy company, Bernard and the team are gaining headway into new South American markets. It’s been challenging but the effort is predicting positive results for the company and its privately held shareholders, many of whom are from a family office.

Tragedy strikes and the chair of the board suddenly passes away leaving the board without a leader. A senior member of the family office takes over as lead director. His style is very direct and demanding and the new director is threatening the success of the CEO. It’s a very difficult situation for the CEO—so difficult, he’s planning a quick exit from the company.

How to work with us at your retreat

Working with Westgate is easy because it’s organized, preplanned, and takes less than 45 minutes to complete, once the individual assessments are conducted (30-40 minutes).

Our CEOs tell us the DISC Leadership Assessment is immediately beneficial to them while helping them understand themselves, their team members, their employees, and even their families better.

I have often shared with our team and my clients that our family (there are four of us) have all taken the assessment which has created more harmony in our family.

While no family, business, or board is perfect, this tool is the tip of the spear for us and our work with corporations and executives because it uncovers a common language to objectively address potential disagreements and differing perspectives on an issue. The tool helps to foster trust, transparency, and like-ability on a team, all of which help to optimize organizational performance.

Launch your offsite meeting with confidence with our premier inclusion event

Create inclusion and trust for your executive management team. Let people know you care by learning their behavioral styles and understanding their personal preferences for engaging with others.

This private event delivers a high return on time invested because you will walk away with a tool that takes the mystery out of people which makes your relationships with your team members more meaningful, trusting, and effective.

For more information, contact: Maddison Shears at maddison@westgatecareercoaching.com.

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Westgate's senior leadership retreat program

About executive resume writing author 

Westgate - Maureen Farmer

Maureen Farmer is the Founder & CEO of Westgate Executive Branding & Career Consulting Inc., an international personal branding and career consulting firm delivering premier executive branding and career consulting services for high-profile leaders. Author of The CEO Script Vault: Job Search Scripts for Busy Executives, Maureen believes that when we’re doing work aligned with our values, everyone wins. Using the law of attraction to identify quality employers utilizing the hidden job market is a cornerstone of her career management strategy.

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