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Leadership is part of who we are - no reminders needed


You may have noticed that leadership is no longer one of the official must-win-battles in our refined strategy. Ville Karkiainen, VP, Leadership and Talent Development, explains what this means in practice, what we have achieved in this area and what is the way forward.

In 2015 we aligned ourselves to deliver on three must-win-battles in Cargotec’s strategy: digitalisation, services and world-class leadership. During the next strategy period 2019-2021, we will focus on four must-win battles: customer centricity, productivity and - as up until now - digitalisation and services. Leadership will not continue as a must-win battle, but becomes an integrated part of Cargotec’s processes.

How it all began

When we started with the leadership must-win-battle in 2015, it was in general not really perceived that important at all across the company. It was one of those “yeah sure, of course, but not now” topics. The views of our people were highly diversified. We started from basics, defining what it means to be an effective leader at Cargotec. In doing this we applied scientific rigour, leading with facts. Ever so gradually our people with their engineering DNA started to see the value in what we were doing. It was not fluffy at all, it was in fact rather hardcore.

Having built the platform with analytics systems and measurement framework for leadership development, we started the rollout. 2016 was an incredibly intense period. We took some 200 of our senior leaders through a very emotional workshop journey, delivered by our crew of facilitators including our CEO Mika Vehviläinen, who spent some 50 days of his calendar year training his own people on leadership.

Where are we now - and where do we want to be?

A lot of activity around the leadership must-win battle took place, but what is the real achievement, is there any, and is that why we’re ditching it?

We have tracked the leadership development progress of 1,600 of our leaders now for at least a year, and for some leaders we have followed the progress for three years. That’s a lot of information and data points. We’ve cross-referenced that to our structure in multiple ways, correlated it to our Compass employee engagement survey, performance outcomes and employee life-cycle data such as recruitment, promotion, reward and turnover. The dashboard is actually quite impressive. We know that we’re recruiting leaders who, six times out of ten, create high-performing teams. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent, and strategically very capable. We are losing less of our talent, but keeping many leaders with high potential. And we know - painstakingly well - that we are transforming towards world-class leadership, but not at a pace we’d like to.

So the available data tells us we’re not quite “there” yet, and we are we not having world-class leadership as a must-win-battle anymore - really? Yes, exactly. Three years ago we were in the dark without a flashlight, not even a box of matches. We had no idea of where we are strong and where not, in terms of leadership. Now we know, and we know how to work with this insight. We are having serious, fact-based conversations about the rate of improving our leadership in various parts of our business, celebrating fact-based successes (although we should remember to do this more often), but also feeling frustration at times. Stuff that an acute sense of awareness brings with it.

When can we say that we have world-class leadership at Cargotec? I have no idea. But we know what to do next and we know we will never stop working with this. Ever. That is the change that leadership as a must-win battle has delivered and that is why we don’t need to have it as a must-win battle anymore. It’s part of who we are and what we do, no reminders needed.

Ville Karkiainen
Vice President, Leadership and Talent Development

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