Next Level Growth: helping leaders meet complex challenges
Andrew Rodgers, Principal in our Leadership Practice, explains how Odgers is helping organisations unlock growth by equipping teams and leaders with new mindsets.
You joined Odgers in January. How do you feel about your role?
I'm really enjoying it. The organisation is very warm, very friendly. It feels like a family – the sort of family that just lets you get on and do your thing. It's a good environment for me to be able to help a lot of companies because the network and the relationships that Odgers has are fantastic.
Your focus is on executive and team leadership development, helping leaders navigate increasingly complex challenges. How did you get into this field?
I had 20 years with HSBC in a normal business capacity in various country, regional and group leadership positions, I was operating at a senior level in a big organisation. One day I got tapped on the shoulder and asked to go to Paris for an off-site of the global executive committee for the insurance business, which is one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. I was asked to facilitate a conversation around culture because I was recognised as a leader who led effectively within the organisation. People loved working with me, and my teams achieved great results. After that, the head of the business asked me to spend 18 months working with about 20 different leadership teams, including the global exco, to help them on the journey of out what it means to be a more effective and better leadership team. Basically, to address the culture.
You discovered you had a talent for bringing out the best in people?
Before joining HSBC, I was a trainee monk in America for a couple of years! I studied and worked the land. Also, this particular monastic order worked with young people. I did a lot of youth retreats where I learnt to motivate people who sometimes weren't really interested or didn't want to be there. That monastic background shaped how I operated in HSBC. Bringing those two worlds together made me realise that I wanted to focus on developing people.
What was your next step?
I left the bank on good terms because they recognised what I wanted to do and I started a leadership consultancy business, working with a number of clients. I came across Odgers while helping a friend apply for a job as an NED and in that process I had a conversation with Liz Stewart who runs the leadership practice. Liz asked if I might be interested in bringing what I did into Odgers. That made a lot of sense to me as it offers a wonderful platform for finding the people who want to take this journey.
Please explain what you are offering, particularly with respect to Next Level Growth.
NLG is about elevating leadership and team effectiveness to find the next level of performance. There are lots of organisations and consultants out there in the leadership development space doing good work, but there are issues and a gap in the market that I want to address. One of them is that a lot of the content has been around the block for a while now and it's feeling a bit stale: topics that don’t address the issues organisations face today, particularly post COVID. We need to bring a different conversation to the table to help unlock growth. And the established industry finds it hard to do that. We need to be learning how to engage people’s hearts. What I'm doing is finding an appropriate way to address the behavioural inhibitors that hinder a business being optimised or achieving growth.
Presumably this ties in with corporate culture?
Completely. The culture is the piece that people understand. It’s one of the ways to have the entry conversation: what's the culture of the organisation like, and is it helping or hindering the fulfilment of strategic objectives? In truth, the culture will be doing both. There will be things in it that are great and helpful but also some aspects that will slow the business down. That exists within teams as well. At a subculture level, it’s about what's happening, particularly in a leadership team, that's taking away from the very thing they are trying to do. That's not always obvious, people can't necessarily put their fingers on it. And it's a bit uncomfortable when you do. What I do is bring teams together to have those conversations, deepen the connection and heighten the level of trust. We work on bringing the challenges to the table and resolving them in a way that is about personal accountability and responsibility rather than blame. We establish a team manifesto on the new culture. Another strand is around effecting real change. I've worked with organisations and researched on this over the last few years and created a framework that enables a team to reset their mindset. By that I mean creating a mindset that's going to support the business objective that they're going after with the right sort of cultural attributes. And I'm super-excited about that.
Is your work separate from the search side of the business?
Odgers has a deep understanding of the industries in which we place candidates and an incredible, rich network. Part of the search process involves assessment, which the leadership practice is well known for. We bring deep insight and do the scientific, analytical and qualitative assessment to make sure that the person is going to fit the role. And we do it very well. We get to know an organisation deeply through working with two or three people at a leadership level, and at Board level, and we find out their behavioural strengths and growth areas. That puts us in the perfect position to help them on their leadership journey.