You are to lead a budget meeting at which department managers vie for their share of funding. Should the company invest NOK 20 million in a new IT logistics system? Or a new packing machine? “A new IT system is absolutely crucial to the future of the company. Our present system is too complicated,” claims the IT director. The voluble sales director hammers home his argument: “A new packing machine will boost sales. The company needs to increase earnings.” The finance director slams his fist on the table. “We don’t have NOK 20 million in the budget!”
The Balance Group, one of three groups in the Leadership in Elkem programme, is simulating a budget meeting. Several of the group members are trying their hand at the role of leader. Prior to the meeting, one of the course leaders has presented various techniques for leading meetings. As leader you can be inflexible and self-oriented, or persuasive and caseoriented. Another technique involves listening actively to the angry group member who may feel misunderstood. It’s a good idea to appeal to the group’s sense of team identity at some stage. “Our company is forging ahead, thanks to all of you sitting around this table.” You can adopt a variety of approaches at a meeting in order to achieve your objectives.
Besides the sessions on meeting leadership, coaching and difficult conversations, the Leadership in Elkem programme provides participants with insight into Elkem’s strategy and business areas, and heightens their awareness of their leadership style by focusing on talent, behaviour and limits.
“The participants develop personal leadership skills in communication, group development and relationship building. Those who participate actively in the leadership programme are the ones who benefit the most,” relates Karin Aslaksen, HR Director at Elkem.
The second module deals with training managers in an EBS*-based organisation and takes
place at a plant. An important aspect of the Leadership in Elkem programme is the Executive Management Task Force (EMTF).
“At the first session, Elkem’s top management presents the participants with three strategically important project tasks. These tasks are solved by the groups in a methodical, professional manner. They must understand a business case, think innovatively and relate it to their own experience, and propose a solution,” Aslaksen explains. At the fifth and last session, the groups present their solution to the top management.
“But first participants learn about international leadership. The fourth module deals with intercultural awareness, the middle manager as change agent, organisational culture and social influence.
This type of knowledge is increasingly important for the success of an international company,” concludes Karin Aslaksen.
Three views on Leadership at Elkem
1. What do you think of the programme so far?
2. What could be improved?
Bente Faaness, Production Manager, Elkem Thamshavn
1. So far the programme has lived up to my expectations. We have been given useful tools to work with. We are learning a lot about other people as well as ourselves, how different we are and the differences in the way we behave. It’s stimulating to meet Elkem colleagues from other countries. We learn a lot about the other divisions and have no doubt become more Elkem-minded.
2. The EBS workshop at Lista was interesting. It’s always fascinating to see how the problems we encounter daily, and that we tend to get stuck on, can be resolved by relatively simple means when addressed systematically by applying the basic rules. But the module could preferably be extended by a day. The participants’ starting point differed too much; some of them had attended the EBS university and practised EBS in their own organisation for some time, while others were total beginners.
James Lin, General Manager, Metal & Foundry Products, China
1. I find the various leadership skills that we learn quite useful, both for leading my team in China, and for influencing my team members to improve their leadership and communication skills. The learning environment is good; we are isolated and are not disturbed by our day-to-day responsibilities, so we can focus on the programme.
2. I would like to see a programme like this in China or another country with a very different culture. If cross-functions or the line management had the same programme, this training would be even more effective.
Cor Oldenziel, Global Business Manager WDP, Materials (EMEA), UAE
1. It’s a very good programme that points out your personal weaknesses and teaches you how to improve on them. The group members excel in different areas and this allows us to learn from each other. We are individuals from different divisions and nationalities, struggling with a variety of issues in relation to leadership in different cultures. The atmosphere is nice, and besides long daytime sessions we have time to socialise and network in the evenings.
2. The second session was interesting because we got to see how the plant at Lista works and to run an EBS programme together with the different teams at the plant. To be better prepared and better understand the concept of EBS, I would suggest two full days of EBS training for the team members who had no EBS training beforehand. I would also have liked to hear more about the long-term strategy of the various business units and to learn more about how Elkem’s top management views leadership and the things they’ve learned about leadership over the years.
Feedback on Module 3
On a scale of 1 to 7, participants give the module an average score of 6.5.
- Excellent combination of communication theory and role play/practical application. The best week so far.
- Even if each module has been good, this is the best so far on account of the role playing, etc.
- I found the case study on difficult conversations to be particularly useful. We went into detail, from knocking on the door to leaving the room again, with different players. We were able to see the full range of actions
and reactions. I think that the coaching and meeting module could have been better if this approach had been used rather than using two or three cases.
- Good balance between theory and practice. Very good instruction with training in different situations, filming and direct feedback. Also good balance between activities and use of time, breaks, duration of the entire session, etc.
- Managers with experience in the core competencies Process, Maintenance, Market, Finance and R&D
- Managers who are motivated and considered by their immediate superior to be suitable for new management positions at Elkem
FIVE PROGRAMME MODULES
- Leadership is personal
- Learning to lead
- Leading and communicating
- Leading according to context
- Leadership foundation
*Elkem Business System