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Leaders Talk Webinar – Enhancing Competencies for Business Success

In our recent Leaders Talk webinar, we had the privilege of hosting Dr. Gabriela Leiss, Head of Global People Development at the esteemed Plansee Group. Dr. Leiss shared valuable first-hand experiences regarding the company’s strategic competence roll-out, which enabled business leaders to embrace contemporary learning and leadership approaches outside their comfort zones.

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In today’s complex and dynamic business environment, it is crucial for companies to adopt a customer-focused and outside-in thinking approach. Prioritizing process orientation, building high-performance teams, embracing agile management, practicing servant-leadership through participation and delegation, and developing organisations as learning systems have become imperative. These concepts, collectively known as “business excellence,” have been translated by the Plansee Group into strategic competences that can be learned and applied through a unique business simulation.

During the webinar, Dr. Leiss provided practical and valuable takeaways from this innovative approach to leadership development. She unveiled insights and learnings derived from the Plansee Group’s business simulation, which successfully disrupted collective and individual patterns of thinking and acting.

Leaders Talk is our distinguished Leadership webinar series, where we invite thought leaders and prominent business figures to contribute to the creation of knowledge, learning, and thought leadership. Our discussions revolve around new technologies and progressive leadership methodologies.

About the Plansee Group:

The Plansee Group, a global market leader, is an Austrian company based in Reutte. Their expertise lies in the powder metallurgical production of materials and their subsequent processing into tools and moulded parts, catering to a wide range of industries.

Why Did Plansee Adopt a Behaviour Change Approach?

In February 2022, following a change in the company’s ownership structure, the board members recognized the need to create a cohesive and robust organisation to facilitate further growth. To accomplish this, they developed defined Strategic Competencies to navigate the increasingly volatile business landscape, with a specific focus on collaboration and a co-creation process.

The Strategic Competencies were clustered under four major topics:

  • We drive our business with passion.
  • We are global citizens.
  • We inspire each other.
  • We are prepared for the future.

Together with the board members, the Plansee Group formulated Leadership Competencies that aligned with these major topics. Subsequently, colleagues from various regions, departments, and functions were involved in refining these competencies.

The Leadership Competencies included:

  • Sharpening business acumen and focusing on priorities.
  • Encouraging diversity and intercultural exchange.
  • Building trust for creativity and motivation.
  • Coping with complexity.

Additionally, the company identified Overall Competencies that were deemed essential for all employees, emphasizing their importance across the organisation.

These Overall Competencies encompass:

  • Creating outstanding value for the customer.
  • Collaborating as one group.
  • Demonstrating eagerness to learn.
  • Promoting sustainability.

A New Leadership Development Approach to Foster Strategic Competencies

To cultivate these strategic competencies, the Plansee Group introduced a new development approach. This approach served as a starting point for individual development, emphasizing cross-hierarchical learning. The primary objective was to raise awareness among participants regarding their existing behaviour patterns and their impact as team members and contributors to the organisation.

To achieve this, the company identified ambassadors within the organisation who could support and serve as role models for the different competencies. Board members were approached to nominate suitable candidates for these ambassador roles, resulting in a diverse group of individuals from various levels and departments.

This marked the beginning of the learning journey. Participants engaged in activities designed to make them aware of their behaviour patterns, both individually and collectively, within the organisational context.

High Impact Simulation

The subsequent stage of the project involved conducting a simulation with three cohorts, totalling approximately 60 participants. The simulation spanned three days and comprised two rounds, with 20 leading ambassadors in each group. Internal and external observers provided reflective insights based on their observations.

During the simulation, the ambassadors collaborated in teams as part of a high-performance learning organisation. They faced challenges such as product development, managing complex tasks, forming sub-teams, reflecting on individual and task processes, and planning product and social processes. Throughout the three days, they made presentations, with fellow ambassadors assuming the role of potential customers. Inputs, reflections, specific tasks, and changes in framework conditions were considered.

The simulation generated 180-240 assessments per participant and 13-16 assessments per competence. Subsequently, detailed reports were created for each ambassador, providing concrete feedback on their behavioural patterns.

How Can This Approach Drive Success?

The Plansee Group ensured that this process was integrated into the broader learning framework of the company, rather than functioning solely as a standalone simulation. The board members pondered over the question of how to nurture collective learning beyond the simulation experience.

Additionally, they explored various learning approaches that could effectively raise awareness of the strategic competencies.

Objections From Ambassadors

A significant learning point emerged concerning how the ambassadors perceived being observed. Despite being informed that the observation was not an assessment, the ambassadors felt as though they were being assessed once they became aware of the presence of board members. This awareness potentially influenced their participation.

Furthermore, after the simulation, the ambassadors received a report containing a final individual assessment figure. This figure significantly impacted many ambassadors, even though the report itself was not shared. Participants expressed concerns about the confidentiality of these individual assessment figures. As a result, the decision was made to exercise greater sensitivity in providing reports, excluding the inclusion of individual assessment figures.

Engaging Executive Board Members in the Simulation

Fortunately, there was no need to convince board members to participate in the simulation. They eagerly embraced the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the processes essential for future growth.

What’s Next?

Following the simulation, individual feedback sessions were conducted with each participant, accompanied by individual coaching sessions facilitated by experts. The simulation yielded concrete ideas for changes in the leadership environment, including team-building activities, further coaching, and training on personal impact. These ideas are being pursued through smaller learning initiatives.

Approximately 40 out of the original group of ambassadors (75%) have continued with the process and are currently focused on developing one of the selected competencies. These self-organized groups operate as an autonomous employee resource initiative and network. Their members work individually while supporting each other in applying their chosen competencies to make a real impact.

Looking ahead, the Plansee Group is already working on version 2.0 of the simulation, which will extend over five days instead of the initial three. This adjustment allows for more time to transfer learnings into the participants’ professional lives. Board members will no longer act as observers; instead, individuals from the first round of ambassadors will assume this role. Moreover, the reports will no longer include final individual assessment figures.

In the upcoming round, the target group will comprise middle managers or emerging talents on their way to assuming middle management positions.

Watch the webinar recording here…

Would You Like to Feature in Our Next Leaders Talk?

If you consider yourself a thought leader in the field of leadership and development, we invite you to join our CEO, Dr. Marcus Gottschalk, in our upcoming Leaders Talk webinar.

Our highly successful Leaders Talk webinar series has been running for several months, and we are actively seeking guest speakers from diverse organisations and industries. During these monthly webinars, Marcus and our guest speakers delve into the future of leadership, discussing best practices, emerging technologies, useful tools, and insightful tips.

Recent webinars have covered topics such as attracting best-fit talent, utilizing gamification in change management, and fostering a coaching culture for growth. Our discussions are always thought-provoking and challenging.

At CLP, we actively promote Leaders Talk through our social media channels, newsletters, and blogs, ensuring that each talk receives substantial attention and gains high visibility.

To share your industry knowledge and experience with Marcus in a Leaders Talk webinar, simply click here and, fill in your details, including the topic you wish to discuss, and we will be in touch with you promptly.

We eagerly look forward to hearing from you and collaborating on our next Leaders Talk session.

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