What would justify putting every employee of a company in a costly leadership development program during a crisis time? Obviously, the objectives of the visionary Managing Director of this 400-employee business unit of a 100,000-employee global firm were far beyond just training her people. After several years of a slow decline in profitability and flat sales, her decision came from the bet that involving everyone in a turn-around initiative was the best thing to do.
Early 2010, the management committee aligned on a broad vision for the company and a set of breakthrough goals to be achieved by 2014. They also defined the main strategic axes on which to focus the effort of the company along the way towards 2014. And they stopped there, leaving the rest of the story to be invented by the employees themselves.
Every employee was then invited to a 2- or 3-day leadership development program held within their functional team, from sales to finance through the supply chain, human resources, etc.
In the program, participants explored and applied high-level leadership tools and postures for themselves as individuals and worked on developing a strategy and defining projects that would be the contribution of their function to realizing the 2014 company vision and ambitions.
From the strategic plans each function aligned on, the management committee selected and prioritized a set of functional and cross-functional projects that were necessary and sufficient to achieve the desired results on the route to the 2014 goals year after year moving forward. A pool of individuals, from all levels in the organization, was chosen or volunteered, inspired by the overall initiative, to lead these projects and received full attention and support from each management committee member.
A bet that paid off beyond expectations
After an 18-month deployment plan and the execution of approximately 20 projects, the company recorded in 2011 a significant positive inflection in the business and financial trends versus those observed over the last 4 years.
Recently, the management committee revised the company vision and pushed it towards 2017, setting new breakthrough goals that they could not have even imagined back in 2010 when the initiative started. A transformation had taken place.