Leader Mentoring – From Entrepreneur to Strategic Leader
This nineteen year old successful staffing company was founded by a young, dynamic staffing agent who wanted to bring a different approach to the business. In an industry driven by the transactions of filling job orders, this entrepreneur saw an opportunity to build strong, interpersonal relationships on all three sides of this people-driven business, namely, the clients, the candidates and the staffing agents. In so doing, this would create a highly sustainable company of well-served clients and satisfied candidates who would refer and continue to do business with the company and happy agents that would stay and do great work.
After years of managing the company from the trenches doing everything the staff did as well as being involved in every aspect of their accounts, the entrepreneur was faced with a company unable to grow, capture new market opportunities and totally dependent on her especially in the economic downturns. Having made it through two recessions, this entrepreneur was ready to see a higher level of performance from the management team both in dealing with the next down cycle as well as capturing more of the up cycle.
This entrepreneur decided to gradually shift her role to one of being far less tactical and more strategic in planning and managing the future along with becoming a leader who relied on the management team to get the day-to-day job done in line with the future strategy.
Drawing upon a new approach for developing leaders from within called the “Arch of Leadership” or AOL, the entrepreneur worked closely with Bonnie Gorbaty, an AOL certified leader mentor, to guide her own self-discovery as a leader based on the personal experiences and values that had shaped her life to date. Throughout the course of eight one-on-one mentoring sessions accompanied with important insights and action steps captured by the mentor in writing, this emerging leader began to see opportunities to shift how she thought and acted upon different situations within her current role. Her company became the laboratory with daily events that could trigger a different response from her and lead to the outcomes she desired for herself, her management team and ultimately her company.
After nearly two decades of operating in a certain way, it wasn’t easy making the shifts and even harder making the decisions that were necessary to move the company to a higher performance level. Many of her initial decisions involved the people who had been with the company for many years and were unable, on their own, to take on the higher level of management responsibility she now required of them. Other decisions involved hiring people from the outside who could bring the type of experience needed to strategically grow the company, build efficient infrastructures and develop and manage the people to implement more aggressive, complex growth strategies.
As the company and entrepreneur enter their twentieth year, they have much to celebrate. The company has a long-term vision clearly defined to capture larger accounts with a more comprehensive offering. There is also a clearly stated mission and set of core values that are designed to preserve the original intent of the founder’s purpose. A new executive management team is in place that works directly with the entrepreneur turned leader in overseeing the company’s strategic direction and aligning the managers through a robust performance plan with metrics. In capturing this story, the founder’s own words say it best – “I have gone from an entrepreneur to a leader. I am clear on who I am as a leader as reflected in my leader brand. This is also my third recession (2008 to 2009) and it is the first time I am leading my organization through it. We will be a different and far better company as a result.”