"Radically different and really spot on"


Anglo Gold Ashanti approached the GSB with a detailed outline of their needs, which ranged from guiding performance at individual level to developing leadership and reshaping organisational culture. A tall order - but, says Training and Development Manager Natasja Muller, the intervention has helped the organisation to strengthen.

The challenge:

To address very specific leadership gaps identified in a detailed organisational study undertaken by Ms. Muller over a period of nearly a year.

"It was quite a comprehensive process," says Muller. "I did a ten-year study of the management development programme we were offering. I started looking at how successful we were in those programmes - I studied the previous participants, strengths, weaknesses, gaps in leadership. It took about eight months to complete before I presented it to our Ex-co team."

Muller then visited all the notable business schools in South Africa, created a shortlist of three, and forwarded a needs analysis. "The GSB was really the only option that considered what we were really looking for," she says. "We've been doing management dev for many years and did with good stuff but it was too academic in a sense and what we really needed was a leadership intervention that would change our leadership, mind-set and culture."

The solution:

The GSB visited the premises, listened to Muller's presentation, asked some leading questions and responded with a modified version of her leadership development proposal that was tailored to the organisation's needs and incorporated additional - and surprising - elements. These were further debated and workshopped together until the perfect programme was agreed upon.

"The GSB came up with something that was quite out of the box," says Muller. "They gave us more than we thought we needed.

"Essentially what they proposed was a leadership development programme. I had designed a competency model that started with the individual, then the team and the organisation. There were certain things I'd identified that needed to be dealt with at individual level, thereafter team relationships, and then the programme would broaden to the rest of the organisation.

"The GSB came back with a nine-month programme divided into three study schools. In between, there were reflections and assignments people needed to do. Throughout, there were certain golden threads; for instance, we focus very strongly on safety because we are in the mining industry, and we also have certain organisational models woven into the programme."

The programme first worked with self-awareness at an individual level, but holistically - looking at the whole person. From there, it gradually built up to changing organisational culture step by step.

An added bonus is that Anglo has a long-running formal relationship with the GSB, having sent a number of students through the postgraduate diploma in management practice. "The GSB understands the organisational practices we are trying to implement at Anglo Gold Ashanti, and what models will take us forward from a leadership perspective," Muller explains.

The outcome: 

The programme is currently in its fourth year, and the plan is to conduct an in-depth follow-up study at the end of the year to document programme results in detail. In the meantime interim results have been very promising.

"The programme has given us some really excellent results and the momentum is so good that it's expanding into how we do team work sessions, how we handle organisational challenges and other issues. It was out-of-the-box and radically different from what we had before but really spot-on."

Further benefits, according to Muller, include:

  • Improved client relationships in a sometimes challenging industry
  • Positive feedback in annual reviews with employees and managers
  • Line managers frequently ask for more programme involvement
  • Improvement on emotional intelligence assessments before and after programme participation
  • Demonstrable positive changes in how staff and teams interact.

The verdict: 

Working in partnership with the GSB on a customised programme delivered much more powerful results which continue to develop and permeate through the organisation.

"The GSB are not just providing us with a nice polished product on the side, but really working with us," emphasises Muller. "There are brilliant programmes out there on paper. They are glossy and great, but you may not get the results you need if you do not do it in partnership. That's the difference - that's what makes it powerful for us."

For more information on the GSB Customised Programmes, contact 021 406 1254 or contact xoliswa.kupiso@gsb.uct.ac.za




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