A case study in Leadership Training - [website] Email Print
Published: 22nd of Aug 2017 by: Debbie Engelbrecht CEO

We have had the opportunity of working with many leaders. Some still being developed into the full management position and some already there.

Just recently though two relatively young trainees (26 and 29 years old) crossed our paths. Both these gentlemen work in the maintenance workshop of their organisations and are responsible for the upkeep of rather large and complicated machinery. Both are well-qualified engineers and both are being groomed for top positions.

Our brief was to take them through a number of training courses giving them the skills with which to take over their new positions within a 12 to 18 month period.

At Staff Training our SETA accredited 3 Day Leadership workshop includes the use of the Enneagram Self Mastery Tool and a 44 page personalised report for the trainee. The Enneagram is a framework that enables us to see what our natural lens of perception is and how that lens influences our decision making. It speaks to the motivation for our behaviour, showing us what we value most and to what lengths we go to protect those values (whether this works in our favour or not!)

The first and youngest of our two trainees, let us call him “N”, is a “three” on the Enneagram. The Competitive Achiever as such. He places much value on efficiency and efficacy, on getting the task done and he highly appreciates the feedback and recognition he gets from doing so well at such a young age. His age plays a large role in his environment where he is in charge of about 15 other engineers, all of them older and most of them having been at the organisation longer than he has.

One of the challenges he was facing was that there was much resentment from his team as there were at least three other guys who originally thought they may be in line for the job. “N’s” natural response was to work harder and show them that he was better at the completion of the projects, that he was quicker , more technologically advanced and that he would win over their trust in that fashion.

This approach had been working for him and he had managed to win over some of the team, but there were still some not on his side. Through the Enneagram he was able to see that by questioning his own reasons for his competitive approach more frequently he may be more able to incorporate team thinking and thereby allow others to shine too. He also recognised that his extreme task orientation excluded some of the engineers that he experienced as slow and/or lazy. We slowly worked through the different approaches and lenses that he could be incorporating into his thinking and this young man walked away with many new options open to him.

Our most recent feedback from him has been that it is going much, much better with the team and that they are settling into being a more collaborative team who are still very task driven, but that the morale is definitely higher with absenteeism , return work and maintenance schedule logs showing highly improved data. The team has also developed into a more cohesive group, with the sharing of the knowledge taking place and their overtime demands have decreased substantially.

Our second trainee, we will call him “E” is a six on the Enneagram, the Loyalist. “E” is currently in the position where he is very comfortable as one of the team, but slightly less so with his immediate manager. The result is that the team trusts him and that they come to him with many of their requests and complaints, as they should. His challenge comes in when he conveys the concerns to his senior. They are not acted upon with sufficient urgency, so he spends a lot of time putting “plan B” into place to ensure that the team’s needs are being met.

An example he mentioned was the procurement of a specific cog for one of the machines. This machine runs seasonally and had been standing for some time. The new season was starting within a week or two and only at that time did “E’s” senior finally put through the request to procurement, only to hear that there was a four week delivery period for this cog. Therefore, despite the fact that the team had requested the cog a few months ago when they were quieter, they were now faced with many challenges to get the machine up and running on time.

A specific request from “E’s” management was that he was to become less hands-on and more managerial in his approach, distancing himself from the team slightly to ensure the respect levels for his new position builds.

As a Loyalist this “distancing” is very difficult for “E” to do as his approach is very collaborative and inclusive. Hard working and task driven, he was quietly of the opinion that possibly the management position is not for him. In addition he didn’t want to step back from the hands-on work as he feels he is too young and he may lose out on the learning needed to keep him abreast of technological advances.

Through the Enneagram “E” was able to see that he did not trust authority very easily. That he was in a position where he was not ready to “let go” of his previous peers and now subordinates as he would see this as a loyalty breach, nor was he ready to let go of his “tools” as he thoroughly enjoyed learning (even just for the sake of learning, very common amongst the sixes in the Enneagram). It didn’t help that both these suggestions came from his manager!

We worked on a strategy to assist him with proceeding with his immediate manager and to ensure that he was able to work closer with him, asserting and articulating the non-negotiable authorities and sign-offs needed, rather than sitting back and waiting for his senior to fail (as had become “E’s expectation), he would then need to spend less time working on plan B, and less time worrying about whether he could trust his manager to deliver.

He also realised that he was confident enough to articulate to his team that he was now in a leadership position and whilst he didn’t want to remove himself entirely from their group, that he would have to spend more time on management duties.

He had strong opinions about staying hands on, but conceded that he could also continue to learn through strong collaboration and observation rather than continual hands-on work.

Our most recent feedback from him has been that whilst he certainly does not trust his manager implicitly, he has asked for and taken on more of the management authority making it easier to get the job done. He has also taken to ensuring that he does not lose contact with his team, but at the same time is spending much more time with the management team as such, the latter task becoming easier for him as he relies more on his own ability to manage and doesn’t look to who he considers to be an “untrusted” authority.

When we asked him about stepping away from the hands-on part of the job, he just laughed but did concede that he was possibly getting slightly less time to be as hands-on as he would have liked to have been.

The feedback from “E’s” management is worthy of a mention as it speaks directly to one of the growth paths of the Ennea Loyalist. He said: “Since the training it is as if “E’s” inner strength is showing more and as if he is trusting his own judgement a lot more. We are delighted as we have always known that he has this potential.”

© Debbie Engelbrecht is the MD at Staff Training. Staff Training is a leadership and soft skills development company. With workshops including Emotional Intelligence, Personal Mastery, tools such as the Enneagram and highly trained and experienced facilitators Staff Training are able to assist you with your change management initiatives. Call 0861 996 660.

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