Building skills and changing culture in a highly technical CIO direct report group

“It was helpful having a strategic human resources thought partner on this project. It was clear the CIO and HR leader were aligned and partnering, which helped me hit the ground running with the assessment and development of this team. It’s incredible how quickly a whole team can pivot when they are given the truth about themselves and then have to say it out loud to their team. Not because anyone is ‘making’ them do it – but because everyone is so motivated to feel better. They know it’s up to them to make that happen, once given the permission.”
- SE

$600M privately held high-tech security company with 2,000 employees in 34 worldwide locations managing billions of transactions annually

A massive business transformation effort was exerting pressure on a technical team of leaders who needed greater awareness of themselves, each other and their customers in order to be successful

  • Need to elevate and connect tech work to the core value proposition of the business

  • Need to build a culture of learning vs. only delivering results

  • Need to raise the game of new leaders, get legacy leaders who built the company also open to learning, and address one junior leader alienated from rest of team

  • Need to get the group working together as a team vs. a collection of individual contributors

  • Leadership coaching

  • 360 feedback collection and reporting

  • Offsite design and team facilitation

  • Assessment of team

  • Advising the CIO and senior human resources leader

In a digital business like ours we need the entire team thinking about customer success, not just on delivering results.  When people are historically focused on delivery, it takes effort to instill and grow a culture of learning.


We needed a formalized framework to help implement this. This is what we charged Sherry with. She did a fantastic job of implementing a customized leadership development program for my team and working with each of them on their goals.


It’s a process, and the important foundational pieces were put in place. Now, I need my team, in turn, teaching their own teams the same things they learned.

  • Net promoter scores excellent, not just better

  • Improved retention:  more people on team choosing to stay with company

  • Significantly deepened self awareness by all leaders

  • Each leader shared his/her personalized leadership plan and 360 feedback themes with whole team and modeled vulnerability, humility and openness

  • Better understanding of one anothers’ challenges on the team and how to support each other

  • Leader previously alienated from team took personal accountability and set up conditions for better collaboration

  • Team meetings were overhauled and focused more on cross-functional problem solving instead of “report outs”

  • Team members driving more value in CIO meetings and initiating more collaboration with each other behind the scenes

© 2019 Sherry Essen

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