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Corporate Culture beats Strategy - Anytime! 


How did Husqvarna Group leverage their leadership culture into a competitive advantage?  


Mr. Per Ericson, Senior Vice President, Group, Staff, People and Organization, initiated a project together with Coaching 4 Performance to have the Culture work in synergy with the new Structure and Strategy.


Case background - Husqvarna is a 325-year-old company.  The current leadership team has been in place for 10 years.  A relatively new team, market changes, mergers & acquisitions, etc. have created a strong need to align the culture, structure and strategy which is paramount to maintaining the leadership position of this revered brand and company. 


Key strengths and challenges - Husqvarna Group has a long history that is rich in tradition.  It is an engineering company with Swedish roots.  What does that mean?  They produce high quality products, have a high work ethic and a willingness to do what it takes to do it right.  At the same time, there is a tendency towards over-engineering, working in silo’s, and a product vs. employee/client centric focus.   


Why change now - A new, strong leadership team, led by CEO Kai Wärn, takes on the challenge to jointly develop a new Culture, Structure, and Strategy that focuses on creating sustainable competitive advantages that align.  Why is Culture key?  In the new Structure the autonomy and accountability for each Division is increased.  The risk is silos’s, and an ”us vs. them” mentality and so if the Structure does not facilitate Collaboration, then the Culture has to do it - not in theory  - in the daily leadership practices, translated into all interactions such as praising and giving constructive feedback.  


Keys to success - Considerable time and effort were spent defining the desired Culture, not just with Values, but more importantly translated into desired Behaviors.  And this was not enough!  Top Management, starting with Group Management had the courage “to get a taste of their own medicine” exposing themselves to exercises that revealed if the desired behaviors were lived or not.  It made the strengths and weaknesses of the actual practiced Leadership painfully clear.  Attitudes and behaviors were revealed, then skills trained and mastered in a process lasting four to six months for each person.


The program was cascaded to all division management teams and even further.  So far a total of 200 top managers have been involved, each person participating in this process where each person’s daily leadership has been further strengthened to reflect the desired behaviors, the desired Company Culture. 


Bottom line - A common language, and common Culture has been established.  Husqvarna Group is an excellent example of a company that has the courage to design the Culture first then the structure and strategy, built on the strengths of the leadership practices and a sharpening of the areas for improvement.  The process did not stop at mere words, but it took those words to daily leadership practice, starting with the top 200 managers.  The Corporate Culture is reflected in daily exemplary leadership.  The strong Corporate Culture forms a unique and sustainable competitive advantage for Husqvarna Group for years to come and this impacts retention, promotions, employee satisfaction, engagement, alignment and of course better profits.   



For more in-depth information please contact:


KAM at Coaching 4 Performance Mr. Per Cedergren +4670543 68 01




Mr. Per Ericson, Husqvarna Group

Case 2: Challenge: Ensure retention of talent through better quality coaching/feedback/leadership, despite a lack of time


Time is one of the most precious resources in any top level consulting company. Managers and Senior Executives are constantly been torn between three major tasks; growing the business, Running the projects and Developing team members. All of the three tasks have to be done with high quality, despite preciously little time. For many Managers the (more long term) task of developing colleagues tends to take a backseat in tough economic times, when revenue generation becomes paramount.


Solution – Sustainably Developing Leadership Skills through Intensive and Time-efficient Training.

The question was straightforward; How can you ensure sustainably developed leadership skills for a group who virtually do not perceive they have the time for training and who intellectually are aware exactly what they ought to do?


A program was designed with the guiding light; create the maximum amount of personal ”aha-experiences” in the shortest amount of time. Use a didactic approach with focus on revealing actual behavior (as opposed to discussing ”what one ought to do”) to create sustainably developed attitudes and skills. Help participant discover themselves the gap between their own ”know-how” and their own ”show-how”, Create the right degree of embarrassment to ensure lasting learnings! In practice the program is a ½ year development process where the participants ”only” have to invest 5 days in total, including kick-off, 4 intensive training days, implementation of personal actions between each of the days, and a follow-up session to report back on main achievements.


Results - Global Employee Survey Shows:


My supervisor(s) demonstrates behavior that I admire and respect  
Starting point: 52%  Goal: 55%  Result: 76%
 My supervisor(s) communicates regularly with me about my role and my performance on this assignment/role
Starting point: 45%  Goal: 50%  Result: 62%
In the last year, I received an appropriate level of direction from my leadership on my skill and capability development, and on my training plan
Starting point: 38%  Goal: 45%  Results: 62%
Overall I am satisfied with my role and responsibilities
Starting point: 52%  Goal: 60%  Results: 75%


Challenge 2: Ensure a strong and common leadership style and culture in a post- merger process


As in many mergers and acquisitions the hardest part is not the integration of the Structure, such as IT-infrastructure, or to find agreement about the Strategy. The hardest part to succeed with is the to win the hearts and minds of the people. To create a common, lived shared and respected Culture and Leadership style. It is claimed that 90% of all mergers fail because of lack of culture integration. The challenge is especially compounded if the merger is cross-border, when new team members are faced with having to work with new colleagues with a different leadership style then their own.

The natural human tendency to find mistakes in the other’s person’s style can potentially lead to a situation where the trenches are being dug deeper (we do it right – they do it wrong).


Solution - Example Behavior Starts from the Top

If top management says one thing but do not follow through with clear and tangible actions, then the culture becomes hollow. Nice words at conferences are not enough, and might even backfire. In cases like this we recommend a three step approach:


1. The intellectual part; define the desired culture and leadership style (if not already done) on both the level of Values and Leadership Principles. Ideally this is done as a top-down and bottom-up process, taking into consideration the actual strengths and shared beliefs of the organization, through structured workshops.


2. The behavior part: Make sure Top Management can “Walk the Talk”. This is the most crucial step. Most top managers have a tendency to assume they are good representatives of the desired culture. For this target group to truly live the desired (new) culture it is crucial they become aware of their personal assumptions, prejudgments, strengths and weaknesses. This is best done through an intensive leadership program, where each Top Manager discovers the difference between “know-how” and “show-how” and then is encouraged to close the gap. Best practice, to ensure sustainable results in attitude and behavior, is 5-6 days spread over ½ a year in groups of maximum 8-10 managers, thus offering “personal coaching in group”. The benefit vs. personal coaching is clear. In a group process the diversity and feedback to each other are key building blocks for the understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different styles, and especially for every Top Manager to be exposed in front of peers with their “show-how” as far as truly living the desired company culture is concerned, giving an emotional imprint, not only intellectual, creating long lasting example behavior.


3. The evaluation part: A few months after completion of the program a follow-up workshop is planned, ensuring the values and behaviors are incorporated in the daily work and is implemented top-down. 



We will be happy to share with you examples where the client claims the success of the culture/leadership part of the merger can be attributed to our intervention, and who despite the cost of flying people in from different continent for several sessions can testify that the impact and the results vastly exceeds the investment. After all, what is the value of a shared understanding and, more importantly, a shared lived company culture and leadership style?


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