Taking the lead with purpose:
Consulting for a global group
What do we bring into the world in our role? Consulting case of managers working for an international group in the context of Neuwaldegg’s purpose and strategy consulting.
Preparing managers for disruptions
A global group gathers managers from all over the world to prepare them for the leap into top management. What sounds like normal management development at first is intended to make a very specific contribution to preparing the management team for major upheavals: hybrid organisation, business model innovation, agility, disruption and Enterprise 2.0 determine the internal discussions and planning. And top management is serious: if you want to have a career, you need to be fit here and be able to act in this kind of context.
Bringing the VUCA world to life
Together with those responsible for the group, we develop a programme for around 150–180 managers per year. In smaller groups, they develop new skills to make the organisation more agile, to further develop business models and management practice through various modules using simulations, learning journeys and input from us. One question crops up more and more frequently and becomes more important: What do we want to bring into the world? It’s clear to many: without purpose, the VUCA world lacks drive and orientation. At the end of the learning journey, everyone should therefore come together and explore the purpose of their leadership work within the scope of a major event.
Finding purpose within the scope of a major event
In a small team we develop a concept on how we can work with 180 people from all over the world on the purpose of their roles. When the major event starts, the first thing to do is for everyone to get to know each other and to collect and share the lessons learned from the previous learning journey. The next day we will then fully immerse ourselves in the subject of purpose. In small groups of eight to nine people, we let the participants talk about their personal experiences first, about moments when they were particularly proud to work as managers at this company. The stories show what “leadership at its best” stands for. Stories that find great resonance among the group members are then shared again with everyone in the plenary session. What emerged was overwhelming. More than a dozen fascinating, touching and entertaining stories were presented in the plenary. In the end, there were still some stories untold, but the room was charged with inspiration and pride in their own organisation.
Afterwards we went back into the groups. We asked them to filter the specific contributions that leadership had made for others from their stories. These were recorded as verbs and “action phrases”, each capturing the essence of the contributions, and projected onto a screen as a word cloud of the contributions from all groups. Trust, purpose, inspire, team and people were most frequently mentioned and briefly reflected upon in the plenary session.
In the next round, the managers then went in search of the statements hidden in the stories about their effects: What difference did leadership make for the employees, teams or clients in the stories? Satisfaction, autonomy and trust, but also commitment, performance, pride and empowerment were common.
The groups could then create a purpose statement from the terms they found and visualise it as a banner using coloured cardboard. As a result, 21 purpose statements were suddenly hanging in the room after about four hours of workshops. They were evaluated by the participants using a moderation tool. Right at the front of the pack: “Inspiring people to create a better tomorrow” and “Empowering teams for inspired solutions”.
Working with 180 managers from all over the world on the purpose of their leadership role initially seemed very challenging. How can a purpose process be designed within the scope of a major event, which on the one hand opens and energises but also produces an outcome that provides motivation and orientation in everyday management? We succeeded in doing so with the process described above. In addition, the managers were able to use their own experience from the event to promote purpose work in their areas with the help of minor adjustments. And other managers who were not there also became curious and asked: “How did you do that?”