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The Role of Executive Leadership in Organizational Transformation: Providing Support
Jul 24, 2020 - Joe White, Director, AEU LEAD

Organizations don’t change, people do.

Now, perhaps more so than at any point in recent past, organizations are struggling to reorient themselves and align with business opportunities – wherever they may exist. To succeed in this business climate, transitions must occur in real time and without delay. For that to happen, stakeholders must buy into needed transitions, understand their role in the process, and be committed to the well-being of the organization. Setting the stage for needed changes begins at the top. Making it happen occurs in the middle.

In this blog, the third in a three-part series on executive leadership’s role in making needed transitions (here’s part one and part two), we’re going to focus on providing support where it matters most: at the point of interface between management and employees. A supportive executive team maintains open dialogue and collaboration, provides an opportunity for involvement and input, and recognizes the value in ongoing coaching and mentoring with direct reports.


Information Flow

In the AEU LEAD workshops for front-line managers, we constantly receive first-hand accounts of frustrations among participants related to organizational communications. Front-line supervisors and managers are uniquely positioned between executives and employees. At various times, they must convey information from one level of the organization to the other. All too often, this doesn’t effectively occur because information needed from executives isn’t available or hasn’t been provided. 

For initiatives originating at the top to succeed, they must be accepted and adopted into practice on the shop floor. For this to happen, front-line managers must have the skills and resources needed for success. Getting buy-in from stakeholders is not only important, it’s essential to achieving desired outcomes. 

The first step in providing support to mid-level or front-line managers is to give them the information needed to effectively engage with employees about what’s coming and why it’s necessary. In practice, communication is a collaborative process with emphasis on understanding. It’s also an ongoing process to provide updates and feedback on common questions or concerns.


Seeking Input

A change imposed is a change opposed.

While front-line managers must get buy-in and support for initiatives to succeed, they must also gain alignment for the specifics involved. Providing an opportunity for input before plans take shape or are finalized is another way executives can demonstrate support and improve the likelihood of achieving desired outcomes.

When seeking input, it’s important to provide opportunities that transcend each level of the organization. Executives should engage with direct reports for the purpose of gathering thoughts and ideas. They should also cascade and afford the same opportunities to employees through supervisors and mid-level managers. This practice drives information flow and is a hallmark of organizations with highly engaged employees. It’s also a direct indicator of organizational resiliency. 


Coaching & Mentoring

Personal growth and professional development are by-products of improvement strategies based on deliberate actions. As an executive, there are few things more impactful than for you to provide ongoing feedback to direct reports based on their individual needs. The process of doing so is broadly characterized as coaching and mentoring. 

The terms “coaching” and “mentoring” aren’t new. They’ve taken various forms over the years and are growing in popularity, particularly among newer or emerging generations. Not only do your junior-most direct reports accept the practice, they expect it and will ask for it if not provided.

In practice, coaching typically involves feedback based on performance outcomes involving individuals. It’s often provided for specific concerns that ideally resolve themselves over a set period, often weeks or months. In most instances, coaching is a bit more structured, following a formal process through resolution. Mentoring, on the other hand, provides a sounding board and feedback that’s more advisory in nature. It’s typically used to provide guidance to those involved and seldom has fixed or set time parameters associated. With mentoring, relationships are very important and rapport between all involved is a key to successful outcomes.

Those executives wanting to show more support to direct reports should ideally ask for ways to do so more effectively – from the stakeholders involved. In addition, opening lines of communication, seeking input before committing to a course of action, and providing feedback and support to direct reports is a sure way to offer long-term dividends to all involved.

The opinions and comments expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of ALMA, The American Equity Underwriters, Inc., AEU LEAD or Amwins. None of the aforementioned parties or the authors are responsible for any inaccuracy of content or for any loss or damages incurred by any party as a result of reliance on information contained in this article. Content may not be published or reproduced without the written consent of the authors. Prior articles may not be updated for accuracy as pertinent information changes over time. The AEU LEAD blog is intended to provide general information and should not be construed as legal advice.
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