Mastering corporate transformation with the right leadership strategy

Mastering corporate transformation with the right leadership strategy

I often witness when I come into new search projects that many companies have a really hard time with transformation processes. Especially in life sciences, but really quite everywhere, companies are introducing new ways of working to large numbers of employees, with the goal of producing a transformation after restructuring. But my experience and also some research show that companies struggle with reaching these goals, or at least they don’t reach them quickly enough.

What makes transformation processes fail?

There are a number of reasons for unsuccessful corporate transformation, just to name some of them: lack of workforce commitment, not enough support from the management, poor collaboration and low management credibility. All of this, quite understandably, causes a lack in moral and motivation among the workforce. How can the management lead by example and form a solid transformation process?

Change is created from the top

Everything starts with leadership. We all know that. So it seems. But do we? Changing leadership can be a challenging concept for many organizations, but it is vital that changes be made at the top first. I can’t stress enough how hard this is for a large number of companies. Yes, sometimes management members need to be replaced during this process, may it be because they wanted to go or needed to go because they didn’t have the right mindset or the will to drive transformation. That’s often a point where I come in because as a necessary part of transformation these executives have to be replaced with people with the right mindset and the right attitude.

Another effective technique is to rotate the existing positions, to create a new and fresh look on the situation. The management also has to share the same set of values, and these should be communicated unified and effectively. The management team should encourage open discussion, but decisions must be conveyed as a unified front.

And by the employees

Employee engagement is a key element of corporate transformation. Two important factors to succeed involve stating a compelling vision about the future, and the ability of showing every staff member where they fit within it.

It is important to keep the transformation on course, for example by implementing a specific transformation team lead by a person on the company’s executive team. He or she is the CEO’s right hand, and must possess the ability to keep the organization inspired and motivated as well as to see the business with fresh eyes. For this reason, it is an advantage if this transformation leader comes from the outside, and not from the executive board.


Moving fast and execution are, as I have said, two of the most vital ingredients of a successful transformation. It happens that executives launch initiatives, then simply keep their fingers crossed that the change will automatically come. Therefore, it is important to develop tools and systems used to monitor performance. I always try to push for an analytics-driven approach based on facts and figures. Here, the transformation team should meet regularly to discuss the specific project within the company and their progress and well as problems and possible solutions.

A company’s leaders must be unified and committed to form a transformation program. This must also involve the role of the single employee. Once they have this, they must pay close attention to the changes within the own team, as well as develop systems to monitor the change – step by step.


By Stephan Breitfeld, Partner Life Sciences – ingeniam
Tel.:+49 (0) 69 / 959091989
Mobil: +49 (0) 172 / 6685350

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