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Leadership Beyond the Surface: Formica Corporation – North America

12/15/09

Like many organizations working in today’s demanding business environment, Formica Corporation faced a critical challenge: to develop and engage its high-potential leaders for the long-term success of the company in the midst of turbulent change. Working with Bruce Miller, Managing Partner for Xavier Leadership Center, Xavier and Formica jointly developed a unique leadership program to build for the future... one that was aligned with its critical competencies and fit the company’s fast-paced business environment, and very real business needs.

“The Formica Business Leadership Essentials program is intentionally designed to broaden each participant’s personal leadership capabilities while impacting the organization’s bottom line,” Bruce explains. “In launching the program, Formica’s executive team demonstrated their commitment not only to the company, but also to these ten leaders, who were drawn from departments across the organization, including sales, planning, manufacturing, finance, operations, customer service, and IT. Formica invested in the program participants, but also expected a great deal in return… and the team went above and beyond what was originally planned.”

Jack Dupps, Formica Vice President of Human Resources, agrees. “We brought in Xavier Leadership Center to enhance and refine the individual leadership skills of some of our key people. While improving their leadership capabilities, the participants in this program have also formed a collaborative network that will allow us to more effectively drive change across our entire organization.”

The Formica program was custom designed as an intensive learning experience for its leaders, encompassing only 40 hours of in-class time over a four-month period. Each learning program was developed based on the underpinnings of Formica’s Leadership Profile and started with pre-assignments such as reading articles, preparing a case study, and/or watching a video, with an even greater emphasis on applying what was learned in the workplace immediately following each topic.

Including such leadership topics as Exploring Dimensions of Leadership, Change Leadership, Business Ethics, Decision Making under Uncertainty, Systems Thinking, Process Excellence, and Measuring and Delivering Excellence in Customer Service, the program sought to effect groundbreaking change. Program facilitators emphasized the power participants had to change the way they approached their business, their culture, how they manage and what decisions they make on a day-to-day basis.

The team soon began making real progress. “It took some time for the group to get to know each other, even though they were united in a common effort within the company,” Bruce explains. “But very quickly, the conversation changed from thinking about leadership as what ‘they’ are doing to what ‘we’ can do. We encouraged the team to explore what impact each of them can have in their current positions to improve the overall effectiveness of the organization. Leadership isn’t as much about managing your people as it is about creating an environment in which to draw the best out of them, encouraging and empowering them to succeed.”

According to Brent Strobel, North American Controller, the program’s value extends far beyond the classroom. “My experience with the Business Leadership Essentials course has already paid dividends,” Brent explains. “I’ve begun implementing what we’ve learned within my own group, and I can see continuous improvement activities that will continue to challenge the status quo. The program was customized to our specific needs, and has challenged the program participants to ask difficult questions and focus on long term success and the process of getting there.  We’re excited to see where the future will take us.”

To learn more about Xavier Leadership Center custom programs or how they can help your leadership team, contact Bruce Miller at 513-745-3230.