Waverley

Centrica plc: Providing executive coaching to key leader in transition

Centrica is one of the UK’s leading energy companies and includes British Gas and its associated businesses. It has an upstream (finding and generating energy) business and a downstream (delivering energy to customers) business.

Need

A senior individual identified as key talent by the business was embarking upon a transition from a central Group / Board chief of staff role to lead a customer delivery function as part of the downstream business. The individual had not performed a senior line management role before and this cycle of experience was intended to be a key part of the ongoing talent development plan for the individual. The goal was to make a quick and effective transition into the new role and to be able to bring about significant improvements to service delivery through his/her leadership of the function.

Approach

One of Directors undertook an Executive Coaching Leadership Transitions programme with the individual. This started with helping the individual to identify and shape his/her own authentic leadership narrative based on his motivations and core drives. This enabled him/her to review previous feedback and insights and then to build an accurate picture of how to succeed in the new role. The process also helped the individual focus on leaving the original role in a strong place. An action plan for the new role was developed exploring a full stakeholder and relationship map and key short term priorities needed to win the support of a huge function. An integrated communication strategy was drawn up focusing on setting out a fresh, practical vision for a restructured department. The coaching sessions included discussions around team members and how to tackle forthcoming challenges as well as how to avoid falling into obvious traps linked to overplaying a key strength or failing to identify others’ preferences and working with them effectively.

Impact

At the end of the 6 month transition, the individual had put in place new systems and ways of working that were demonstrating tangible improvements in customer service in a high profile part of the business. He/she had won over the wider function to the vision of the future and was recognized by his/her bosses as being instrumental in changing behaviours and working practices. The individual’s own personal confidence as a people leader was enhanced and he/she continues to operate effectively as a leader.

“I’d previously assumed that people leadership would be the weaker part of my skill set as a general manager, but would be an area I’d need experience in. I’ve discovered that it actually comes quite naturally to me and I get satisfaction out of inspiring a large group of people around common goals.”

Director of key customer service business,

Centrica plc