Schneider Electric IndiaA new reference point in leadership development

Schneider Electric India
Schneider Electric India has done a lot of investment in the country – it has the largest pool of people, plus facilities for R&D, Supply Chain, and Sales & Marketing.

The question was ‘if we are rich in number of people, then why don’t we contribute (to justify the investment) by creating a pipeline of leaders not just for India’s succession plan, but for the whole of the organization, globally?’

Erehwon was chosen as a partner in a leadership development initiative for the organization’s High Potential Leaders.

The Challenge

Given Erehwon’s bias for Orbit-shifting, the first question we asked was:

What is the intent of this leadership development? Is it merely to create a pipeline of capable bodies to fill future leadership vacancies? What should these leaders be able to do in the real world?

This led to defining the Initiative as ‘Creating New Growth Leaders’, those who would be able to take on and lead in any new situation – be it leading the organization in a geography new to the leader, or driving a new mission-critical strategic initiative, or a starting and running a new line of business, or turning around a negative business situation; AND succeeding with these in the shortest possible time.

The second question, was:

What should hence be the intervention design that accelerates the leadership development process? beyond the usual methods of leadership training programs, executive coaching, 2-year duration, cross-functional action learning projects, etc.

The Breakthrough

The first phase of the Erehwon intervention was a mini orbit-shift diagnostic where key growth areas for the organization along with the IMT (India Management Team) were identified.

This was followed by a 1-day alignment session — the IMT plus 20 high potential future leaders who were identified for the first batch participated – in which these growth areas were collectively crafted into Orbit-shifting Missions which would serve as a Leadership Learning Crucible for the 20 participants.

The outcomes were to be new strategic, breakthrough solutions which will take the whole organization to the next level; and these would be presented to the IMT 8 months from the alignment session.

This first phase ensured that it was not just an alignment of leadership development and getting sponsorship from the senior team, but a genuine and joint ownership of the future growth of the organization. The stakes were collectively high!

The second phase, the 8-month orbit-shifting leadership journey, was a series of Learning Workshops, Workouts and Coaching sessions — a change and realization journey, intervening at three levels:

  • Orbit shifting Leadership Mindsets: Recognize and Shift
  • Breakthrough Thinking and Breakthrough Engagement Skills & Tools: Learn and Apply
  • Generative Leadership Practices (Rhythms): Design and Execute

Starting with a 4 day process (2 days of orbit shifting leadership plus 2 days of innovation capability building); followed by 3 Challenge Accelerators, one every 2.5 months; and with 1-1 / Affinity group coaching sessions interspersed in between, the leaders deployed every mindset, skill/tool, and practice on the mission they were part of.

Results and People Transformation had to happen at the same time, synchronously.

At the end of the journey, in a live concourse, the participants shared their Leadership mindset realizations and shifts, Breakthrough insights for new growth opportunities, and Breakthrough Solutions for the identified missions (those that would take the organization to the next level) with the Country Management Team.

The Impact

Over two batches of the intervention that have happened so far (20 leaders per batch):

  • Almost all of them have taken on positions of higher strategic responsibilities within the organization.
  • 7 have moved out of the country to lead high stakes interventions. (The number increases each month, as the leaders from these batches are sought globally – having done this program is ‘badge & brand value’.)

More importantly, there are breakthrough transformations within the leaders’ own departments and teams:

Example 1: In the context of a de-growing market, where in the first six months, one leader and his team had achieved less than 50% of their targets, the leader went on to lead his team, in the next six months, to not only make up for what they hadn’t done in the first six months, but they also overshot the annual target.

Example 2: Another leader – the organization’s NPD (New Product Development) time-to-Market was quite poor. They would come up with ideas but by the time they took those ideas to market, other competitors would have easily put out another six products into the market. This leader took on a creative challenge: can I crash the time to market of a new product from 18 months to 3 months? He led his team to do it in 4 months!

A batch 3 will be run soon.

The intervention has given the organization a new reference point for the process of leadership development – breakthrough outcomes and in a much shorter time.

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“At SLIC, we are very pleased with our association with Erehwon. They have taken on the challenge of “orbit shifting” Shriram Life Insurance with a lot of passion and we were able to form a strong multi-disciplinary team who could work together seamlessly and with a strong focus. Erehwon brings a unique blend of structure and creativity which helps to inspire breakthrough innovation. It ensures that we stay on course but also allows for powerful solutions to emerge. Also, their experience and network have helped us to tie up with good partners that will help us take our solutions forward. We are looking to great results from the initiatives that are now being piloted and also more good solutions ahead”.

Casparus Jacobus Hendrik Kromhout
Casparus JH Kromhout
MD and CEO, Shriram Life Insurance