“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
You might as well apply this saying to DHL. So successful were they as world leaders in supply-chain management that Deutsche Post World Network acquired them in 2005. Nevertheless, for the new DHL operation to provide first choice customer service, it would benefit from people working more collaboratively across geographical and cultural boundaries.
With this drive to improve their already impressive performance, they researched their leadership style and bench-marked themselves against other world class companies. They decided to enhance the skills of their senior management by developing Active Leadership. When considering their partners in this project they were looking for a company that had a track record in behavioural change programmes. Maynard Leigh fitted the bill. And after extensive planning and piloting, the Active Leadership development programme was born.
The programme took the form of two sets of two-day modules with a follow-up event six months later. The first workshop, Coaching and Managing International Talent, was a masterclass in getting the best out of a diverse workforce. The second workshop focused on Impact, Influence and Collaboration – a challenging and revealing session where leaders developed their communication and inspiration skills. The events took place in locations all over Europe to emphasise the multicultural nature of the business. 170 managers attended the programme in the first year, with a further 160 in year two. They came together in groups of twelve to sixteen participants.
In the workshops participants had the opportunity of exploring how to build rapport with people whose communication style is very different from your own. Collaborating with people of a different culture isn’t just about different countries: even within one office building there will be many cultural differences, whether it be the HR, Finance or IT departments, all of whom have their own ways of going about things.
Like many successful entrepreneurial organisations, DHL’s supply chain has always been very good at pace-setting and authoritative styles of leadership to deliver results. The area that needed focusing on was how to nurture and develop employees, how to coach people and plan for succession, and how to make the workplace attractive to a wider range of talented people.
Learning and Development Director Geoff Clare reviews the effectiveness of the programme through follow up conferences, feedback reports, and by talking to participants: “Maynard Leigh provide regular reports for us on action that has been achieved as a result of attending the programme. It is clear that our leaders are beginning to change their behaviours which will benefit thousands of people in the company. Within our environment of constant change we are enabling our managers to develop skills which will become increasingly important not just for the business, but for advancing their careers.”
"There is evidence of real change coming through," HR Director Susie Robinson told us following the first year of the programme. "People are behaving differently. There is more understanding of what’s needed in the new organisation and more ability to deliver it."