Hamburg, 11/13/2017 | Story | Careers Reinventing Leadership

What can we expect of our managers and what qualities should they possess? To develop a common understanding of leadership, Olympus first defined six key leadership competencies, then founded the Olympus Leadership Academy in the last business year. Three managers told us about their experience of the program so far.

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Quote Thomas Admans

Thomas Admans, Assistant Financial Controller, Olympus Surgical Technologies Europe, UK

Good leadership makes for committed, enthusiastic employees. When your immediate superior supports what you do, gives you feedback and sets out clearly defined goals, you’re automatically more motivated. You think outside the box, tackle new challenges with confidence and help the company reach new heights. Good leadership plays a pivotal role in the success of a company, as the 2014 employee survey underscored. The survey prompted the Management Board to define a common understanding of leadership. Soon thereafter the idea for the Olympus Leadership Academy (OLA) was born.

Training to become a leader

The goal of the program is help leaders develop the specific skills they will need to perform their everyday duties – and help them to lead Olympus EMEA into the future. In collaboration with Regional Managing Directors, Regional Division Managers, Olympus Europe (OEKG) Directors – so-called ‘sponsors’ – and external partners, Human Resources spent some six months establishing a program structure that is based on the six leadership competencies and corresponds to the challenges posed by the various tasks managers carry out. For every training module developed by HR, several senior managers acted as sponsors. They provided input for the program’s content and helped select the coaching staff. This ensured the Leadership Academy evolved out of the company. To guarantee training is effective and meets the high standard required, HR collects feedback from the participants after each course. This will be used to continuously update and develop the program.

“Leading without showing people exactly what to do or making their decisions for them – I believe that’s what defines good leadership. It’s about helping your employees to fulfill their potential and getting them ready to face the challenges ahead.” Ivana Madunic, Chief financial officer, Olympus Czech Group

Ivana Madunic took a three-day course entitled ‘Development of Self and Others’ to learn how to do just that. The main focus of the course is working on your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as learning how to develop your employees, both professionally and personally. “Taking the course and talking to my colleagues really helped me understand my own leadership style and how other people perceive it,” says Ivana. “That had a motivating effect and gave me a big boost.” She is already making good use of the techniques she learned in her day-to-day work. “It’s made the way we communicate as a team a lot simpler. We’ve also improved our time management and the way tasks are assigned,” she says. “We’re more keen to take on new challenges, too. For me, the effect has been very positive.” Ivana is looking forward to learning more about conflict and change management next time around.

Klaus Eißing, Head of Coordination Olympus Region Central, Olympus Deutschland GmbH

Practical everyday tips

Klaus Eißing took the ‘Enhancing Leadership’ course, which reinforces the six Olympus leadership competencies and teaches participants how to apply them to their own role. “The course gave us a good understanding of the leadership competencies,” says Klaus. “In particular, the strong focus on real-world applications helped me work on my personal needs and absorb the recommendations on how to act in a given situation.” In addition, he learned how different values and cultural peculiarities can affect a leader’s behavior, even within Europe. In this regard it was helpful that his fellow participants came from all over EMEA. To work on specific aspects of his leadership style, Klaus would like to undertake more targeted training. He is especially interested in ‘Strategic Leadership’ as this has an increasingly important role to play in the regional country structure.

Delegating must be learned

Empowering people instead of controlling them – this was the most important insight Toby Admans took from the ‘Enhancing Leadership’ course. “My team would probably say I was somewhat of a control freak,” he admits. “On the course I learned that delegation doesn’t necessarily mean losing control.” As soon as he got back to work, Toby could put this lesson into practice. “I applied several things within just a few hours,” he says. “Things that would never even have occurred to me before.” The tips he picked up have made Toby keen to take more courses. “The coach showed me a whole bunch of areas where there’s still room for improvement and I’m already looking forward to doing just that.”