Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Sørensen has been lauded for his leadership; Harvard Business Review named him the best-performing CEO of 2015. But in the highly competitive healthcare industry, it takes more than just a great CEO to drive company success.
Novo Nordisk — a global healthcare company with about 40,000 employees across 75 different countries — understood the importance of developing leadership to driving a performance culture. The Denmark-based company’s Aspiration 2017 initiative, a set of leadership development programs, was designed to do just that. The initiative’s key goal was improving the people management skills of the company’s managers.
Specifically, Novo Nordisk wanted more than 80% of those participating in development programs to improve their skills in the area of leading and coaching. As part of a global effort to implement a performance-oriented culture, the company sought to create and roll-out a personalized development program for all People Managers in its Europe region.
The company succinctly defined what it means to be a good People Manager, distilling the essential attributes for success down to the following 5 competencies:
1. Setting Direction & Strategy
2. Leading & Coaching People
3. Focus on What Matters
4. Personal Leadership
5. Make Things Happen

To actualize these goals, Novo Nordisk needed a strategic partner that could design, develop, and fully implement a customized coaching solution to about 500 People Managers across 7 business areas in 36 different countries. What’s more, the chosen partner needed to be able to provide the customized solution and related services in 13 languages. And it would all have to happen in just 9 months.

That’s why Novo Nordisk partnered with the Center for Creative Leadership.

Despite the complicated, multi-national logistics involved, the participants who received coaching and the Novo Nordisk executives who oversaw the program said CCL’s work produced significant value for the company. Participants gave CCL’s coaches particularly high marks for demonstrating a good understanding of their specific business context and linking the training to their personal leadership challenges. Participants also overwhelmingly said they would recommend their coaches to others within Novo Nordisk.

CCL provided material translated into 13 languages, brought in 10 new coaches including 8 in eastern Europe to ensure complete coverage with local focus, and offered 2 tiers to the program aimed at People Managers as well as Managers of Managers.

The People Managers received 3 hours of coaching, consisting of a 2-hour, face-to-face session with a CCL coach followed by a 1-hour, virtual alignment meeting with their boss and coach. The Managers of Managers received 6 hours of coaching, including a 2-hour, face-to-face coaching session, too.

That’s just a portion of the role that CCL played in its strategic partnership with Novo Nordisk; delve more deeply into the results of this performance culture initiative with the report below!

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