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Transformation of a Leadership Team


August 12th, 2015

- Updated on

September 1, 2018 - 3:55pm
Pen and paper ignited as the audience of senior HR leaders captured key takeaways during a recent Senior HR Advisory Board (SHRAB) meeting. (The SHRAB became The HR Leader Exchange on 1-1-18.)
The storyline seemed to resonate with the assembled senior HR leaders based on the number of great questions. Everyone came away with two clear messages:
  1. It is imperative for organizations to press forward in spite of the volatile and dynamic environments in which they operate, even if the game plan is not perfect.
  2. It is important to resist the temptation to move forward too quickly.
The Presenters: Karen, who heads the OD function at our pharma client and Linda Bodnar, Executive Coach and AJO Project Leader.
The Story:  How our client in partnership with AJO, pursued a common goal of changing its culture and transforming its leadership at one of the largest sites dedicated to vaccine research, development and production in the world.  
Leadership Transformation Needs of AJO clientBackground: Why embark on this journey?
The organization was under pressure to change due to external and internal pressures that were weighing heavily. Site operations were fragmented with challenges in communications, manufacturing issues, and competing priorities, to name a few drivers. The company decided to seek outside expertise to help implement their vision, which was to:
  • Facilitate a shift from a “command and control” to an “empowerment” culture
  • Create a more collaborative and feedback-rich organization
The Challenge? To resist the temptation to make the journey happen faster

Leadership journey and transformationThe Journey

In collaboration with AJO, our client developed a road map. The initiative involved a two-pronged approach, consisting of team workshops across all business groups in parallel with executive coaching for members of the leadership team. The goal was to achieve alignment and a shared common vision throughout the organization.
Along the journey, “we tripped, we fell, we continued onward” advised Karen. She described how the entire leadership team was dedicated to working together in partnership with AJO. The end goal ….. to create a better environment.
From AJO’s perspective, it was important to be very flexible. The day-to-day client business demands threatened to interfere with how much attention leaders could give to coaching activities and their personal development. Building a trusting environment presented a challenge too, as not everyone understood the benefits of coaching. Once several early barriers were overcome, AJO introduced assessment tools such as DiSC and Hogan to gather data to facilitate the movement forward. Customized team workshops on “Leading Culture Change” also enabled appropriate models to be introduced, such as “5 Dysfunctions of a Team.”

Early Results

AJO Client Leadership Transformation ResultsThe results from this initiative are already apparent in multiple facets of our client’s business today. These include:
  • Strong sponsorship by the leader
  • Leader as a role model for the process
  • Improved collaboration within the team
  • Increased feedback within the team and beyond
  • Improved leadership by team members
In today’s dynamic business environment, executive coaching combined with team facilitation can serve as powerful interventions to support a company through its challenges. In this case study, the application of expert facilitation along with the proven team and leadership development strategies and approaches were key foundations. The ability to customize services to meet the prevailing conditions, and to do so with a high degree of flexibility, ensured our client’s journey stayed on track. We are pleased to report some impressive short-term results as our pharma client continues its journey to execute its new vision.
The HR Leader Exchange is an AJO network of senior HR leaders. This meeting was hosted by AJO at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park, NJ. If you are interested in becoming a member of HRLE, please email Steve Safier steve@ajoconnor.com or call him on 973-539-3006.