Transformational Leadership, which provides a human-centered vision and strategy can build a competitive edge by creating a culture with heart and soul. 

Such a culture has a palpable sense of purpose. Its heartbeat is felt in all aspects of the business. What does it take to create this kind of culture and have breakthrough results?

The answer is simple, but not easily or quickly accomplished. It begins with a leadership commitment to building a human-centered culture with a clear sense of purpose and mission that is alive in its people.

Sodexo Group, based in Paris, stands as an example of this kind of vision in action.

Transformational leadership at Sodexo, a multinational food services and facilities management company is providing a diverse and lively culture that expresses a passion for its employees and customers alike.

Since 2005, CEO Michal Landel, has been at the helm demonstrating this passionate leadership. He says, “Frankly, I think that competitive edge comes from making a difference in our customers’ lives. The conviction is you can do this through people who believe in what they do…”

Landel leads with this commitment to building a human-centered culture. One aspect of this work is finding ways to have employees really connect with Sodexo’s mission and purpose.

Landel sums it up: “Our sense of purpose is to provide a better quality of life for our customers and their customers. In order to compete on a global scale we have to be committed to the people and regions we serve, our leadership, employees, mission, and values need to reflect that.” (see Insigniam Quarterly, summer 2014)

Here are some elements Landel points to as essential in building this kind of culture:

  • Building fully engaged teams.
  • Engendering a deep feeling of social or community responsibility through projects
  • Encouraging and building diversity throughout the company.

At Sodexo they are finding that teams become more engaged when they are diverse and also participate in work that is connected to a sense of social responsibility.

What kind of results is this demonstration of transformational leadership producing lately?

  • Profits rose 11.4% in the first half of 2014, according to Reuters.
  • Management and governance are strong, the company is growing, and there is a higher than average stability and visibility of revenues. (Standard and Poors)
  • 10% of gross margin is invested in training & developing employees that might otherwise be overlooked.
  • As of 2013, of 428,000 employees, 54% were women, and 43% of the international executive team and middle managers are women.

Sodexo’s commitment to diversity extends beyond gender to developing leaders who come from all walks of life, can think from a global view, and link a world-perspective with being relevant locally.

Walking the talk Sodexo is showing senior leadership everywhere that a global organization of this size can build a culture with heart and soul.

And the journey begins with your commitment as a leader, to realizing the vision of a human-centered organization—one with heart and soul– that produces extraordinary results.

What conversation can you have today and with whom to begin to fulfill on your commitment?

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