“If you’re embarking on a leadership programme be clear on your mission. Co-design your solution with your team. And choose a provider who understands your values because if you don't, it won't work. Inspire Group were collaborative, supportive, responsive, and took time to understand us as an organisation, as well as individuals.”
Atlas Copco was founded in Sweden in 1873. Since then, it’s grown to become a multinational manufacturing industrial tools and equipment.
General Manager Khalid Shaikh explains, “People are the core of our business. So, when I arrived here in 2021, I focused on people first. And when you invest in your people, the leadership of a company creates most impact, because if you’ve good, strong empathetic leaders they can lead a company to evolve and grow. When I sat down with my leaders here, I could see a need to guide them how to lead and inspire their teams to really perform.”
“Success came in two parts. One was personal success, where individuals define what success means for them. The second was business success. I gave myself the mission of doubling the business within three years. When the targets were shared there were a lot of murmurs, people saying this guy’s crazy, this is not possible. But fortune favours the brave. So, you set ambitious goals, take risks, and push for success.”
HR Manager Catherine Taylor agrees. “Khalid and I were very much on the same page. The business was doing well, but we knew that to elevate it to the next level, we needed to support the leadership team to really build the people side of the business. We felt senior leadership was the right place to start because equipping that team with a greater understanding of how to lead themselves and lead others would enable organic growth to happen more fluidly.”
Atlas Copco selected Inspire Group for our pragmatic, bespoke approach. Catherine recalls, “We engaged with quite a few providers to see what was available. After several rounds of discussions, we chose Inspire Group because their approach felt more real. Some training was pitched at quite an academic level, and whilst that can be valuable, it wasn't what we wanted. After meeting our leadership team, Inspire Group felt off-the-shelf training was not the right approach, and we needed something bespoke. That aligned wholly with what Khalid and I had felt all along.”
Khalid expands, “This was a real customised leadership programme. We set out two things at the beginning. First, we needed to hear from the horse's mouth what our leaders would like to learn. Second, we needed to work on mindset, for the team to be mentally prepared to work towards their challenging goal.”
A signature of Inspire Group training programmes is our co-design approach. Catherine says, “Co-design was really valuable. You get real input from the people involved in the programme. This is critical because it creates a sense of ownership and responsibility. In the co-design workshops Inspire Group sent a clear message to our leaders that this was their training and Inspire Group needed their input so the programme was right for them.”
Inspire Group put together a three part programme for Atlas Copco’s senior leaders. Over 12 months the team learned to lead themselves, lead others, and lead the business. The programme combined workshops, group coaching, and one-on-one sessions.
Khalid says, “We wanted the programme to combine learning with implementing, then following up. This process is much better compared to a crash course where you go into a room for three days to become a leader. I’ve gone through lots of leadership programmes myself and the problem with most programmes is you’re very motivated when you come out, then slowly you lose steam, go back to your routines, and forget everything. We wanted to do it differently.”
The programme wasn’t all smooth sailing. Khalid recalls, “Before the leadership programme started the team was concerned about their targets and the coaching. They were all very sceptical. But progressively their attitude changed.” Catherine agrees. “Initially, engagement and buy-in with the leadership programme was limited. People were sceptical. But Inspire Group were very open about the resistance and very accepting of it. They normalised it because push back is a normal reaction to change.”
“One of our group values at Atlas Copco is, there is always a better way. Inspire Group created an agile environment where we were reacting to feedback and making improvements as we went. We hit some hiccups. But because we had open communication as things came up they were addressed straight away. So, if a session was uncomfortable, we shared why it was uncomfortable and how we could change that next time.”
“The first couple of workshops were challenging because we focused on leading ourselves, which can be uncomfortable territory. But as we worked our way through the programme we began to understand ourselves at a much deeper level, and that helped us understand why we were feeling raw. It was a bit painful at times, but very worthwhile.”
One big win is the Atlas Copco team hit their ambitious growth target a full year ahead of schedule. Khalid says, “We doubled the business in two years. Of course, we can’t put success just down to the leadership programme and our people’s efforts. Success is a combination of many things, but the leadership programme played a part.”
“One of the most important benefits of this programme is we’ve come together as a team. The team has started supporting each other and celebrating each other's success. That shows a change of mindset compared to when I started, when there was a lot of internal competition and a need for stronger collaboration. But that progressively changed as the programme went on and the team started gaining more confidence in each other's abilities.”
Catherine says, “The programme has made a difference for the team in a whole host of areas. Our understanding of ourselves, of how we impact others, and of what it means to be a leader rather than a manager. We’ve achieved aggressive growth targets and the programme has helped us support our team to achieve in a more healthy way. People are motivated, and supported, and the risk of burnout is reduced.”
“There were a few aha moments for us all on an individual level where we started to recognise certain behaviours in ourselves, understand why those responses happen, and what triggers them. There was definitely a moment where barriers came down and the team started to see the human behind the role. It’s improved our sense of togetherness and our relationship as a team. And it's helped us make a cultural shift. The senior leaders are leading by example because we've changed ourselves.”
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.
Like our vibe? Reach out and let us know what we can do to help your situation.Say hello