Case study: Leadership Principles


Leading the way, eliminating corporate diseases


When a Nordic financial institution embarked on a transformation journey to stay relevant and remain a leader in a rapidly disrupted industry, they started with an assessment of their current culture. It became a real wake-up call for the leadership team. The leadership assessment indicated that over a third of the time and effort spent by people, including leaders themselves, was on non-value-adding behaviors. A number of corporate diseases creating waste, draining capacity and slowing down the organization preventing them from being really competitive were identified:
  • Bureaucracy
  • Silos
  • Slow or lack of decision-making
  • Internal politics
  • Slow and low innovation
The team realized that none of these dimension brought value and they themselves had been part of creating this organization that was not working optimally. As they understood that they had created it, they too could change it.


New Leadership Principles were defined listening to levels in the organization, as well as customers, what they were looking for from leaders. It was surprising to hear how much customers cared about and knew what was needed to build an even better environment for the people they related to in the organization. The Leadership Principles included a “from-to” clarifying what had to change to be a successful as a leader in the organization:
  • From head focused to leveraging your full self
  • From focused on me and my needs to serving others needs
  • From optimizing for the team to serving the whole
  • From saying Yes to everything to clear prioritization
  • From bringing value by providing answers to creatibg real impact  through asking questions
Everyone with leadership responsibility went through training to build the capacity to listen, learn, and act in ways reflecting the new Leadership Principles and expected behaviors A strong community was built where leaders shared stories of successes and learnings, of the dilemmas and challenges they faced, of how they brought the principles in practice in their different roles and parts of the organizations. The Leadership Principles became the foundation of how the organization recruited, developed, rewarded, promoted, and also let go of leaders. It was clear also to the rest of the organization what was celebrated and was not tolerated which became a significant lever for also shifting the culture of the organization. People have since expressed that they experience a more clear and truthful leadership.

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“When I first joined the organization, I felt kind of wrong – as a person, as a colleague, and as a leader. But when the new purpose, values, and leadership principles were launched, I felt immediate relief. I felt seen, heard, and valued in this big transformation. It became okay not to be an expert knowing everything, to ask and give feedback, to make mistakes. It helped me understand the from-to shifts that were needed for us as an organization, and for me as a leader and individual.”

– Strategic Leader in the organization

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