This week marked the Hallmark Moment for positive leadership that I have experienced throughout the summer thus far. With my case (engagement) wrapping up, the team is under quite a bit of pressure to turn out a product that the client will find actionable and congruent with the expectation which has been set for the case and Bain’s work thus far. In particular, the project which I am working on has received quite a bit of air time from the client, with leadership at the client going as far as to draft a first pass of what they think our output for this portion of the project to look like. This puts myself and the team in a tough position, as we are between providing what we believe to be the right answer and avoiding stepping on the client’s toes.
In light of this, we had a client meeting on Thursday afternoon to go through our work in process slides and recommendation. Included in this was the work which I completed on my specific workstream, the workstream which had previously been worked on by the client. Where things became in-congruent, however, was when we showed the client the near-finished product of my analyses and he spoke up and mentioned that the analysis was far too narrow for what they were trying to do. This put me in a difficult spot, however, because I genuinely believed and had gotten alignment from my supervisors that the recommendation which I had put forth was reasonable and within the client’s means.
In what felt like a bit of a bold step at the time I spoke up, and respectfully explained the difficulty in scoping what the client had proposed given the resources available and the industry examples of similar projects. This being my first time speaking up in a client meeting, to push back a bit, was terrifying, but to my excitement was celebrated and valued by my team. In particular my manager took what I said to heart, and allowed me to further explain my thinking to him in particular. He treated by as an expert on the subject, and valued my opinion as we found a way to present something that the client would find acceptable while still driving at what we saw to be the best answer.
I would not have had the confidence to speak up in this meeting and push back with my team if it weren’t for the individualized consideration I had gotten from my Manager to this point. Not only had my manager laid out this portion of my work as something which he hoped for me to become a expert that the team looked to, he had treated my analyses throughout as something that was worthwhile and valuable to him and the client. This confidence, and sense of purpose which was fostered by my manager gave me the spark which I needed to speak up and push toward what I thought was the right answer.
Not only was this theory exemplified for me in my team, but for others. While specifics are hard to delve into, my manager employed the same individualized consideration to the rest on the team in their interactions with him which not only empowered me but the team as a whole. This theory is applicable to any case team within the organization that may be experiencing a difficult client situation, and will allow the team to drive toward a better answer because of it.