Enjoy our At Your Best newsletter featuring our latest case studies from The Corporate Lab, a leadership podcast on creating an inclusive culture at CVS Health, and leadership lessons from Shakespeare.

How to change hearts and minds: Examining four key protagonists of Shakespeare's plays can yield timeless insights about how to manage culture change in an organization.

Listen to the 7th episode of The Heidrick & Struggles Leadership Podcast - “Beyond diversity to inclusion” – an interview with David Casey, vice president of workforce strategies and chief diversity officer at CVS Health.

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Rapid change and disruption have created a new corporate imperative: agility. This collection of articles offers perspectives on leading transformation, insights from CEOs who have transformed their company culture, an examination of agility from divergent experiences of two banks, and the importance of a growth mindset in executing a digital strategy.

Is your team at the top truly as aligned, agile and enterprise-minded as it needs to be to succeed in today’s challenging environment? Learn how senior teams can be more effective at agility, speed and alignment across the whole enterprise, particularly in the face of environments of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, (VUCA).

One company, one team, one culture, aligned around the same vision, living by the same values, making decisions for the greater good, getting the best synergy and collaboration across all divisions, business units, product and customer segments. Does this describe your organization? O r does this describe a state of being that you would like for your organization but you continue to be frustrated that it falls short of this ideal? Few companies operate at this state, but it is achievable.

It’s tempting to call Lin-Manuel Miranda a genius. He’s the creator of Hamilton, the universally acclaimed musical that improbably fuses hip-hop with the story of Alexander Hamilton, the first US secretary of the treasury. But rather than labeling Miranda a genius, which tends to limit his accessibility as a role model, we would call him a “superthriver.” Superthrivers not only attain extraordinary levels of individual performance but also create the conditions for others to thrive. We examine how Miranda exemplifies the vitality, growth mind-set, and clear sense of purpose of a successful “superthriver” and offer insights for all leaders on how they can draw on these three psychological states of mind to become thriving leaders.


In a quick-service restaurant industry that isn’t known for making employees a top priority, the executive team at Cafe Rio Mexican Grill restaurant chain has been strategically shaping a culture for a future that adapts the company’s proud history to the realities of scale. And the recipe is working. CHRO Andy Hooper, who previously lead the culture-shaping work at Burger King, shares insights on why baking the best of a small business culture into a scalable model was vital for rapid expansion from four restaurants to more than 90 without the usual growing pains.  

When performance slides, CEOs under pressure may be overlooking an important key to enabling a turnaround strategy: investing in culture change to restore high performance and agility. One organization that turned to culture change in such a situation was Fulton Financial Corporation. President, CEO, and Chairman Phil Wenger and Chief Human Resources Officer Bernadette Taylor discuss creating The Fulton Experience to shift the culture to restore accountability and reenergize leaders.

 Disruption is here to stay, and many companies are failing to keep pace. A multiyear research effort highlights ways companies, teams, and leaders can mobilize, execute, and transform with agility. Based on many years of research, supplemented by a major study for this report by Heidrick & Struggles ' Leadership  Consulting Practice, we found that organizational success requires acceleration. This doesn’t mean a relentless push for speed in every part of an organization. What it does mean is a careful analysis that leads to removing certain drag factors while taking other steps that will drive progress in the key ar eas that accelerate overall performance. 

 As global organizations navigate the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” they are grappling with the need for urgent, dramatic and fast-moving changes in strategies for leadership, talent, and organizational performance.  Culture is the catalyst for achieving these goals, but it is too often overlooked. Through a combination of purposeful leadership, broad engagement, and focused sustainability, smart leaders help shape their company's culture — instead of allowing the culture to shape the company. Five CEOs from different industries discuss why they have focused on creating organizational cultures built on a foundation of agility, and how it has transformed their companies to outperform the competition and stay ahead of the curve.

For many financial services organizations, rebuilding trust with customers will require a focus on culture — not just compliance. The majority of banks are talking about culture change, and some have embarked on it tentatively. But only a few are unlocking its full potential to enable their business to flourish and gain competitive advantage. Here is how two forward-looking banks are leading the way.      

Rising competition in the European telecommunications industry is forcing companies across the sector to revise business models to stay competitive and relevant to customers. Majority state-owned   Proximus (formerly Belgacom), a flagship company of the BEL 20 headquartered in Brussels,was at such a crossroads. 


With more than 14,000 people providing mobile and fixed phone, Internet, and television services to residential and business customers, it had become overly complex and slow. In addition, a period of leadership turmoil and market saturation resulted in years of zero growth and lost market share.


CEO Dominique Leroy has led an impressive turnaround. In this view from the top interview, she describes the culture transformation that created leadership agility and a growth mindset that are enabling the growth strategy to succeed.

 Culture is driven from the top down. Yet most executives cannot even define their organization’s culture, much less figure out how to disseminate it through the company. Only 12% of those surveyed in Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 study   believe their organizations are excellent at effectively driving the desired culture.


Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn discusses why a successful culture-shaping process requires an integrated approach that must begin at the top of the organization and be embedded throughout the company. He details the four key principles for successfully shape an organization's culture.


Watch the video of Larry describing these key principles.

  How did reshaping the culture at an integrated, not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system help overcome many challenges and contribute to greatly improved financial performance, clinical quality, patient satisfaction and employee engagement? Gary Shorb, former  CEO of Methodist  Le Bonheur Healthcare, a $1.6-billion, eight-hospital system based in Memphis, Tennessee, shares the inside story on the positive difference resulting from creating the ‘Power of One’ culture, with significant   gains in every area it sought to improve.

How can companies avoid cultural clash, and how can leaders and employees best deal with the change so it doesn’t produce undue stress and strain for them? The answer lies largely in the stories we make up in our thinking. Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn discusses the cultural challenges of mergers and offers several insights on how you can navigate them with a healthy state of mind.


Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn examines ways to prevent cultural clash in mergers and acquisitions. He provides a set of guidelines for successful culture integration and shares the notable example of the successful WellPoint-Anthem mega-merger. 

A global study of more than 150 CEOs explores the challenges of leading in a rapidly changing business environment, and highlights the competencies required to succeed, including a growth mindset of continual learning and remaining true to personal sense of purpose.

 The longest-serving CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands,  was honored in December 2014 with a lifetime achievement award by Chief Executive Group at its  annual CEO2CEO Leadership Summit. Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn examines the leadership traits that Wexner demonstrates, including passion, growth mindset, a benevolent leadership shadow, humility and a higher purpose of doing good while doing well that have contributed to making him one of the best CEOs of the century and turned his company into a retail empire. Senn also shares Les’s insights on leading, winning together, and shaping the L Brands’ culture.   

Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn shares his insights on best practices in successful organizational culture change in regular posts as a member of the faculty of This educational website and blog is dedicated to providing workplace culture awareness, education, best practices and expert insights to positively impact society on a global scale.

The leadership team of the NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway, embarked on a journey of intentionally shaping a healthier, high-performing culture to become even more effective in serving NATO. JWC calls it the "One Team" culture. Senn Delaney Vice President Boris Diekmann  details the culture-shaping journey and results in this article published in NATO Joint Warfare Center’s Three Swords magazine.        

Tom Voss, chairman, chairman president and CEO of Ameren, discusses leading a culture transformation at the St. Louis-based utility to restore it to top performance and winning in four critical categories. 


The culture work led to creating an inspiring purpose, ‘to power the quality of life’. Voss credits the culture transformation for being a big factor in helping Ameren achieve goals of top-tier performance in safety, total return on shareholder value, customer satisfaction, employee engagement and operational excellence.


“If you look at the way our culture is today, it’s significantly different than it was six or seven years ago. We’re now a team that’s really aligned with one purpose, and we really took care of all those little issues that were causing us to not function at a very high level,” says Voss. “Ameren is now performing at a very high level, within the top quartile of our industry and certainly within the top half in shareholder return. So, it’s been a real turnaround financially. In fact, our financial performance is probably the best it’s ever been compared to our peers, probably at least in the last 20 years.”

Watch a video of highlights of the interview with Tom Voss

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles regularly earns top honors for the care it delivers and  is designated a Magnet Hospital  – an honor held by only five percent of U.S. hospitals . With such an impressive track record, why has the academic medical center been working on its culture? Chief Executive Officer Rich Cordova provides the answers in this ‘view from the top’  interview. Cordova examines the need to change cultural ways of working together across disciplines, and with other health care providers to provide a broader, community-based, and collaborative system for delivering care needed today. And he shares the benefits of building on a strong foundation for its people to thrive and navigate changes in the health care landscape.

As the energy industry environment undergoes significant changes, electric companies must shape their cultures to adapt and succeed. Four prominent energy leaders participated in a dynamic panel discussion on corporate culture and strategy moderated by Senn Delaney Chairman Larry Senn to explore the challenges and opportunities.

Panelists included: Craig S. Ivey, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. president; Patricia ‘Pat' Kampling, Alliant Energy Corp. chairman, president and CEO; Andy Vesey, AES executive vice president and COO Global Utilities; and Thomas R. Voss, Ameren Corporation chairman, president and CEO.

This article is a recap of the discussion and key takeaways and insights from our distinguished panelists on why corporate culture matters, how it can be shaped and how to lead culture change.

Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn describes the importance of culture to enable strategy and improve performance. He suggests that CEOs should focus on three powerful drivers of performance: purpose and direction, structure and enabling processes, and creating a culture that enables both.

After six years of leading a hugely successful turnaround at frozen food company Iglo Group, Chief Executive Officer Martin Glenn announced his departure in January, 2013. He had reshaped Iglo into Europe's largest frozen food business, making it the market leader in frozen food, 2.5 times the size of its nearest rival with a strong track record of innovation and a demonstrated ability of consolidating the frozen sector through the successful acquisition and integration of Findus Italy. 

As part of the turnaround strategy, Glenn engaged Senn Delaney to help create a common ‘PACE' culture as a platform for results and top-line performance. In this interview Glenn reflected on the journey and how the PACE culture was a key tool to enable and accelerate its growth strategy that resulted in record financial performance.

Nick Neuhausel, Senn Delaney partner, executive vice president and energy practice leader, discusses the importance of culture fit in CEO succession planning. He cites Atmos Energy, a highly successful gas distribution company, as an example of how to do it right. Watch video and read article.

UK Power Networks CEO Basil Scarsella discusses his efforts to create an accountable, measurable culture to realize the vision to become an employer of choice, to be sustainably cost efficient and be a respected corporate citizen. Since the power distribution company embarked on the culture-shaping program, progress has been measured on several key goals. In 2012, UK Power Networks dramatically improved the reliability of power supplies, customer satisfaction, staff engagement and development, and achieved a strong financial performance. The company beat strong competition to win the prestigious 2012 Utility of the Year title at the Utility Industry Achievement Awards.

Iglo Foods Group is the market-leading frozen foods business in Europe, operating in 11 countries across Europe. It acquired the Italian Findus business, making the Iglo Foods Group a truly European business. With a relatively new executive team and an ambitious plan to create a centralised product and marketing function, Iglo Foods Group had a clear need to create a common culture, based on performance and collaboration, as a platform for results and top-line performance. Chief Operating Officer Tania Howarth reflects on the successful focus on creating the PACE culture as a key tool to enable and accelerate its growth strategy that resulted in record financial performance in 2011.

Why is a company's culture so critical to business performance and employee engagement? Piedmont Natural Gas's former chairman, president and CEO Thomas E. Skains states that the Piedmont Pride culture is the single most important factor in achieving stellar financial results, improving customer satisfaction and providing a Thriving work environment that engages workers and attracts the best talent in this leadership interview..

Watch the 20-minute video interview

Listen to the interview podcast


First Horizon National Corporation CEO Bryan Jordan has led the nearly 150-year-old financial institution through turbulent times since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. In this interview, he discusses why shifting the long-established “Firstpower” culture was an important part of the turnaround. As a result, First Horizon has returned to profitability and improved performance and is better prepared for significant industry changes ahead.

When the economic crisis struck in 2008, seemingly overnight, the financial services industry faced dramatic change. First Horizon National Corporation's emphasis shifted from expansion to refocus on its core businesses of regional banking and capital markets. The CEO and chief human resources officer swiftly responded by intentionally shifting the “Firstpower” culture to align with a strategic refocus on its core business as the best regional banking system in Tennessee. In this interview about leading the culture, CHRO John Daniel describes how a smaller, but more flexible, nimble and accountable organization has emerged. As a result, First Horizon has returned to profitability and improved performance and is better prepared for significant industry changes ahead.

While many companies struggled during the recession, USAA, the financial services company serving military families, experienced some of the best success in its 88-year history. The company continues to have robust growth, top ratings for financial strength and receive top rankings for customer service. What is the secret sauce? CEO Gen. Joe Robles says the key ingredient in its recipe for  continued success is the culture of service. He discusses the importance of his role as the “chief culture officer” to keep a sustained, committed focus on the culture of going above and beyond — and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

With a clear mandate to bring Miami Children's Hospital into the digital 21st century with an EMR transformation, CEO Dr. Narendra Kini took the proactive approach of first shifting the collective mindset of the institution in a more accountable, collaborative and customer-focused direction. By creating a culture called The MCH Way, he fully prepared the hospital to embrace the radical change that electronic medical records would bring. The culture shaping also helped create dramatic improvement in patient, employee and physician satisfaction and clinical outcomes. Dr. Kini shares his leadership lessons for IT transformation success in this Senn Delaney view from the top interview.

At a time when organizations have to perform at their best, and all the low-hanging fruit has been picked, how do you improve the bottom line and top line of your organization? One answer lies in gaining maximum organizational synergies, something most organizations fail to accomplish. Why do so many companies fall short? What does it take to succeed? Founder and Chairman Dr. Larry Senn shares insights and offers some thought-provoking questions for leaders to consider.

In just two years, Chief Executive Ron Hilton has led Staffordshire County Council, one of the largest local government bodies in England, to dramatically higher performance, fiscal health and economic stability. The council has moved up the national performance tables into the top 10 percent of local authorities for improving performance. Mr Hilton discusses the spectacular results the Council is seeing from an ambitious reform agenda that is focused on creating a high-performance culture.

In this candid interview, Atmos Energy Corporation CEO Bob Best shares his thoughts on leading during challenging times, and why creating and sustaining a healthy, performance-based ‘AtmoSpirit' culture has contributed to the gas distribution utility's stability despite the challenges in the industry and the worst economy since the Great Depression.

It's become a business imperative to maximize operational effectiveness, trim costs, standardize and streamline processes, achieve economies of scale and increase competitive advantage. Today's most successful leaders do this in a way that balances the greater good of the enterprise with the competing demands of their autonomous businesses that must respond to the individual needs of their markets.

A more collaborative model that helps leaders of complex businesses to maximize effectiveness is gaining traction. Four prominent business leaders discuss their challenges and successes in shifting to this shared business model.

Driven by a heartfelt mission to provide the best care for every child, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio is striving to become a preeminent, nationally prominent pediatric teaching hospital and research institute.

To achieve this, hospital leaders are executing an ambitious strategic plan to increase capacity, enhance patient care and services, improve performance and discover new treatments and cures.

A foundational part of  the hospital's roadmap to success includes building a one-team culture of accountability, collaboration and innovation, one that connects administrative, medical and support staff throughout the hospital and research institute to the mission, strategic plan and values. This article describes the positive results they are already seeing.

Culture Drives Performance Image