People who worked with John Sloan thought his style of leadership could never change because it so strongly reflected his personality. Furthermore, he had produced outstanding results. So what would induce him to change the way he managed?
John Sloan was smart and effective, but the way he dealt with peers and direct reports was unacceptable for “Applico,” the global firm that employed him as president of its Canadian division. Applico was a worldwide leader in household appliances, and widely recognized for its commitment to humane, people-oriented practices. John’s approach to people was incongruent with that commitment. Something had to change. The description of what happened contains many lessons for those who aspire to build a shared leadership system.
John Sloan sat uncomfortably in the office of his boss, Ken Warner. He had traveled from Toronto to the company’s U.S. headquarters in Westchester, New York, for a series of meetings, including this one: his annual performance appraisal. Like most people, he disliked this yearly ritual, but it went with the territory. In any case, Canada had made exceptional progress over the past 12 months so he expected his meeting with Warner to be perfunctory. But that is not how it turned out.
Ken Warner appeared to be tense as he joined John in the conference room adjoining ...