Apex Leadership and Coaching Journey Case study – Large Investment Management Bank

Global Investment Management Bank

Situation :

Our client is a leading wealth management bank that provides its customers investment banking, private banking and asset management services worldwide. India was seen as an execution arm only and the intent was to change that view for global teams. The lateral senior hires had trouble integrating and scaling the organization while they had ideas and proven past track record as they were constantly pushed down by the tenured lot.  Given the current volatile environment and plans of expansion by the bank, expectation from India delivery center leaders was following:

  • Step up their game and be seen as powerhouse of ideas
  • Continue to ensure spectacular delivery
  • Seen as role models of thought leadership

Client identified a set of 30 leaders as high-potentials who were expected to impact regional and global stakeholders by enhancing the perceived value of their personal and the organization brand. This cohort included both the tenured leaders and lateral hires.

Further, from this group of 30 leaders, 12 exceptional leaders had to be identified during the process and taken on a longer journey to keep them engaged & develop them for bigger global roles and build intensive trust based relationship with stakeholders.

Outcome expected : 

For the entire cohort of 30 leaders, the intent was to focus on Global stakeholder management, higher engagement, influencing  and enhancing the perceived value of the India delivery center.

Expectation from 12 leaders specifically was to:

  • Scale India operations
  • Expand their identity and take up challenges beyond their roles
  • Create succession plans and inspire team members

Action : 

Recalibrate conducted multiple appreciative inquiry sessions and interviews with the top leadership team and stakeholders to gather data on current internal and external environment and get an understanding of alignment between vision, mission, values and business strategy. This output vetted the existing competency framework of the organization and also helped in coming up with a new proposed set of competencies (which were missing) aligned to the strategic intent. Post identification/vetting of the competencies, a customised development journey was created.

A four-month APEX leadership program grounded in leadership laser coaching (ACI Columbia certified coaches), customised development/assessment center including formal psychometrics was undertaken along with capability-building workshops based on principles of neuroscience and action learning. The journey was supported by cutting-edge technology using AI, intelligent analytics and also includes “On-Demand” learning on a mobile platform. The capability-building workshops had a combination of business and experiential simulations and action learning to observe/develop demonstrated behaviors aligned to global leadership competencies. The workshops were  then followed and anchored by a three-month executive coaching journey focusing on key development areas and business outcomes for all thirty leaders.

The core competencies identified for the journey were:

  • Pioneering Leadership (See more ideas and leadership from India_
  • Influencing and strengthen relationships through assertive communication
  • Enhance internal and external impact
  • Leadership impact through self and social awareness
  • Systemic approach to problem solving and decision making
  • Networking within the organization across geographies
  • Inspiring team members, peer-to-peer collaboration.

The top 12 people were identified  through globally researched tools & templates providing a holistic view of an employee while staying in the employee’s job role & the organization’s strategic intent and align it to their future role.  These 12 leaders were specifically coached on shifting their identities so that they could see themselves in light of global leaders and help scale India operations.

Following methods were used for the assessment center:


  • Assessment by self- psychometric on leadership & personality
  • Assessment by others- Multi rater (360 degree), Assessment center (observation from experts)


  • Performance in workshop
  • Stakeholder interviews (including peers & reportees)
  • Work shadowing
  • PMS data ( Past experience, growth paths, proven track record)
  • Work samples

Action (contd.) :

The top 12 exceptional leaders continued their coaching journey for additional 4 months, wherein they were continuously engaged in reflecting and honing their development areas with the coach specifically in preparation of their alignment to  global roles

The Columbia coaching process focuses on “What’s happening”, “What matters” and “What’s next”. The coaches consciously helped members to identify near term opportunities to apply tools and techniques and measure effectiveness through observational feedback.

Result :

The result which were observed with the entire cohort of 30 was as following

  • Most members opened up to exploring and experimenting with neuroscience concepts like whole brain thinking, mindset shifts: judger to learner
  • Some of them focused on expanding their identity and challenging existing beliefs through years of conditioning.
  • A major belief that many questioned was the “Difficulty in adopting new behaviors”
  • Majority of them identified challenges they would take up beyond the scope of the coaching focus areas
  • Leaders felt empowered during the journey
  • Identified major long term goals in the area of innovation and succession planning

Coaching facilitated the transition seamlessly. Some of them have outshone others and experimented with areas they have not even gone and went extra mile to create a level engagement wit their global teams and peers. The 3 month journey gave members a chance to stop and look under the hood. Coaches encouraged reflections by sharing methods of ‘Single loop’ and ‘double loop’ learning. The Columbia coaching process contributed to laser focus and major shifts in short period of time.

The 12 identified top talent who had gone through an extended coaching journey saw following results

  • Most of them substantially shifted their focus on responsibilities which are in line with their future roles in addition to their current roles.
  • 3 of the leaders took on new global roles post the 7 month coaching journey
  • A recent dip-stick on a multi rater scale has provided encouraging results on the shift in their  ‘identity and global presence’

Testimonials : 

What we heard from their Global and India stakeholders was on the lines of:

  • I have seen a mindset shift happen in terms of his openness to the stakeholders which resulted in higher confidence from them as they heard perspectives which they never heard earlier”
  • “I see her wearing a learner hat now instead of being a judger which gave his team more confidence to step up”
  • “There is heightened awareness of own emotions, behaviours and actions which results in more grounded outcomes”
  • ” I saw that he can influence situations now where I had to intervene earlier which frees up my bandwidth”
  • “He comes across as patient and listening to other people’s views which make influencing the tough stakeholders easier”  and many more.

What we heard from the leaders themselves:

  • “Coaching was the most fulfilling experience for me as it helped me immensely to challenge some of my fixed beliefs and mindset which i had for years and helped me see that every stakeholder is unique. Instead of judging what they say , i now look for what are some of the assumptions i am making”
  • “Coaches took intense and personalised interest to understand my developmental needs, while analysing but cutting through the clutter of the data which was way too insightful for me”
  • “The business outcomes i can now deliver are far more superior given the clarity I have of my own identity” and many more.

What we could have done better:

  • Perhaps include more coaches. The reason we didn’t deploy more coaches was to assure quality and best practice across the cohort. The process was going to be the key and we believed that ‘Columbia process’ in corporate and executive caching lends well to assured results and uniformity. With additional coaches we could have engaged each other for multiple perspectives on distinct styles and increased space could have led to a greater level of engagement with the coachees.
  • Push the client for spacing the coaching journey to 5 – 6 months only. People don’t change at the flick of a switch, they expand and contract. Moreover, stipulating start and finish dates for a large group of 30 members seemed to be a major challenge as many seemingly felt rushed and pre-occupied during parts of a session. Some didn’t get real opportunities to apply the learning and reflect-in-action. Many leaders where stretched because of travel and block leave therefore couldn’t leverage the coaching journey to its optimum, essentially due to short period.