– GOLD WINNER OF THE 2019 EXCELLENCE IN PRACTICE AWARDS –
They say that “no organisation outperforms its top team”. And that principle is at the heart of the project described here where a top team learns new ways of working and leading in order to succeed in a challenging competitive situation.
Endo is a global specialty pharmaceutical company and this is the story of the leadership team of its Specialty Branded Division. Patrick, the incoming head of the unit, knew the value of effective leadership and wanted his whole team to benefit from it, build it for themselves and then share it with the wider organisation. Ralph’s brand of leadership is involving, supportive and outcome-focused.
Could he bring a soft style to the team and deliver hard results? This is the story of how he, the good people of Endo and LIW achieved just that. The strength of the partnership meant that the work that LIW and Endo did over 18 months could challenge some leadership and development norms and seek to get extraordinary results.
From “learning to do” to “doing to learn”
LIW’s already clear focus on delivering business impact evolved still further through the partnership. With Endo we closed the “learning-doing gap” totally. The team learned by doing at each stage, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t.
From individual to intact team learning
This team invested the time to come together to learn together and work together. The team recognised their dual roles: The Vertical dimension as leaders of their own function and the Horizontal dimension as members of the leadership team. While they all performed their vertical role, the importance of their horizontal roles drove the team’s ability to collaborate and to build execution across the business.
From a skills focus to a performance focus
Many leadership programmes focus on the hard skills of leadership and the business results while others focus on culture and the soft side of leadership. We wanted to combine these approaches so that we could support the leadership team to develop their personal leadership skills and build their mutual understanding as a team while maintaining a ruthless focus on business results. This was supported by the use of assessments, including the Team Calibrator™, throughout the year to track and build the Conditions for Success™ in the team.
From a fixed learning path to agile development
Rather than setting out a complete development path upfront in ‘waterfall’ style, each element of the programme was developed based on the learnings of the last, “pivoting” where needed to arrive at the desired destination. Furthermore, the team viewed the development path as a journey rather than a set of discrete events so that while they set some clear goals at the start, the path to achieve them inevitably evolved as they learned and progressed on their leadership journey.
It was not a smooth road – the team, like all groups of humans and all businesses, were hit with some curve balls along the way.
There were cynics. There were some discontented customers to get on board. There was a serious health scare in the team. All these challenges were overcome by a team that had the courage to speak freely, and to challenge themselves and others.
The leadership transformation programme was built in consultation with Patrick and the PLT, using an initial Team Calibrator for baseline data, individual LSI personal leadership impact reports and one-on-ones with the PLT to deepen our understanding of the challenges. We started with two workshops addressing direction setting and building trust and later, in agile fashion, added a third workshop on execution excellence to accelerate performance. The PLT were supported throughout the journey by coaching and ongoing learning to enable reflection and experimentation.
Team Calibrator™ scores enabled the team to identify key team strengths and areas for development focus. Mini “pulse” checks on low-scoring items enabled the team to track progress and adjust and two further full Calibrator surveys demonstrated progress across all conditions for success through the year.
Workshop 1: Direction setting – creating a compelling vision for the Specialty Branded Division, resulting in a ‘Clarity on a page’ document setting out the purpose, vision, values and strategies that the team were committed to delivering.
Workshop 2: Building trust – through deeply exploring their own and others’ leadership styles and recognising strengths in diversity and the importance of collaboration to deliver results.
Workshop 3: Execution excellence – working together to prioritise the “Big Swing Factors”, which will deliver the biggest impact. Then drilling down on accountability and developing resilience to enable the team to break through the major challenges.
The results have been dramatic, both in terms of leadership of the top team and business performance. Team Calibrator™ scores improved 29% through the year, the gap was reduced by 47%, and variability of scores fell by 48% demonstrating an impressive improvement in alignment across the leadership team.
Interestingly this improvement did not happen in a straight line. While performance did improve at the midpoint, the gap held steady and variability actually worsened. This reflects a passage through “conscious incompetence” that the PLT took as they recognised the challenges they faced. The final workshop on execution excellence enabled them to bring together the clear direction and the trusting climate to deliver real change for themselves and for the business.
Latest business results are also positive, with the team delivering double digit Specialty revenue growth two years in a row and a return to positive growth for the overall business unit in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The journey continues and LIW and Endo are now working on cascading this leadership development to the second-line leaders as well as continuing the development of the top team. The team set a bold goal to achieve $1 billion sales within four years, and the team remain committed to achieving it by engaging the wider business leadership team in their vision and purpose.