“CEOs are challenged by being at the top of their organizations, says Wakeen.”Who can they talk to? The isolation can be very real.”
The traditional assumption is that leaders are born. “If all we had were born leaders, there would be very few of them to go around. Leading has a challenge. It is a learned skill,” says Wakeen.
Being at the forefront of leadership development for years, Wakeen believes in the importance of identity as a driver of decision-making. “Behind every business decision, there is a personal decision being made,” says Wakeen. “Why leaders make certain decisions is as important as the decision itself.”
“Oftentimes, CEOs assume that they must have all of the answers. They make the decisions. Others follow. The truth is, the more a leader shows his or her humanity, the more people will follow them.”
Equipped with a unique assessment tool designed for CEOs, executive leadership, and management teams, Playbook identifies what a leader believes about his/ her leadership and what evaluators’ experience. The gap between the two is where the traction is. Playbook begins every assignment with this assessment then builds a plan based on the results. The plan includes leadership coaching and development and re-evaluation near the end of the assignment. “It is a metrics-based approach. You can see the improvement in leadership effectiveness in the numbers.”
“One of the common mistakes is to think that high-performing people can be good leaders. That isn’t always the case,” remarks Wakeen.
For one client, Playbook was tasked with developing the President to be the next CEO of the company. It was a tall order. “This guy was brilliant, but was highly protective and controlling,” states Wakeen. When he saw his benchmark results, he had an ‘aha moment’ in which he realized that he could multiply his effectiveness with specific changes to his approach. The effect was to be able to better leverage his team’s effectiveness. “We devised a plan which showed him a path forward, to a more enlightened way of leading. His leadership team noticed. “That’s what we are going for,” says Wakeen, “Self–motivated, visible change in behavior.”
The transformational change also occurs at the team level. By starting with the CEO, Level 1 leaders see the benefits, so Playbook’s assignments widen.
When leaders transform, their people can too. That is the cascading effect
That same Level 1 team described above became Playbook clients. The entire team took the benchmark assessment. Individually, they each had a specific action plan for improvement in their leadership. As a team, they came to understand each other better. Trust improved, as did the team’s performance. “A leadership team needs its own culture and value system. It has to be healthy,” states Wakeen. “It is like a parent-child relationship. Kids see when the parents are stressed or arguing. They derive confidence and security by experiencing a tight partnership between mom and dad. The same can be said for leadership teams. A strong leadership team is air-tight in its support and contribution to each other and employees’ notice. This is the cascading effect. From CEO to Level 1 and down the line. It’s an unspoken expectation that the leadership team guides employees with confidence. Without that, the culture can become very unproductive, even negative.”
While progressively moving toward a leadership development model, Playbook Coaching is focusing on programs involving individuals down the organization hierarchy.
The company has developed a new set of tools designed to build the culture of teams, with such modules as Accountability, Trust-building, Leading Through Change, and Systems Thinking, among other topics. It is also designing and facilitating group workshops with high-potential leadership cohorts to help develop Next Level leaders and has a growing network of executive coaches it can leverage for clients in any industry.
Intending to establish leadership effectiveness as an integral part of every organization, Playbook focuses intensely on growing its client base. Wakeen sums up, saying, “We aim to remind leaders how to become more effective by focusing on who they are and what drives their decision making. Better leaders make the world better.”