Having facilitated the Leading Teams program for Finding Futures over the past few years, I thought I would reflect on recent events as a footnote to our Finding Futures case study. Toward the end of 2012, Finding Futures CEO, Bryan McCormick, received news that the Government funding for the organisation was not going to be renewed.
This was as a result of where the organisation had been positioned (see ‘Situation’ in case study), and the way the Government determines who gets funding. There is another article here about how the Government rewards performance, but that’s another story…certainly the significant turnaround achieved by Finding Futures in culture, leadership and performance wasn’t enough.
Bryan has therefore spent the last three months in a very different position to what was originally planned. His role as CEO has included advising the numerous redundancies of high performers and he has also had to encourage others in the business to look for other roles, even when they’ve wanted to stay and ‘fight it out’, because they have invested so much into the organisation and don’t want to walk away.
This has been a tremendously difficult time for everyone at Finding Futures and the selfless Bryan hasn’t given much thought to what he’ll do or where he’ll be – he knows he’ll be ok. Through glassy eyes, he told me recently, that despite all that had gone on, and whatever the outcome, the behaviour of his team barely wavered. Through all the uncertainty, his people could have easily turned into a bunch of individuals just looking after themselves – and you could hardly blame them, all things considered – but they didn’t.
Bryan maintains the Trademark of the team (as developed using the Leading Teams model) came to the fore when his team was most under pressure. At Leading Teams, we talk about the pressure situations that are the best test for a team in terms of how they behave. You probably can’t get a situation that is much tougher than Finding Futures right now – Bryan has seen tears, sadness and anger at times, but it quickly turned into support, celebration and optimism. He heard the language of the Trademark and most importantly he saw it in action.
I’ve always used Finding Futures as a great story to demonstrate the power of a Trademark. Despite the sad ending to this story, it is another chapter that is well worth sharing and doesn’t change the lesson: Performance can turn around when the leader is driving the desired behaviour and the team is empowered to model, challenge and reward each other.