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Global Leadership

HR leaders discuss their organizations' strategies to define global leadership competencies.

Sunday, November 1, 2009
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This is an excerpt from a session entitled Defining Leadership Competence of a Global Scale, which was presented during the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology conference in New Orleans in April 2009.

Speakers are Kelly Polanco of Bristol Myers Squibb, and Norm Perreault and Matt Redmond, both of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Inc.

The transcript covers about five minutes of the session.

Kelly Polanco:

You know, there's the term big pharma and then there were biologic companies. And now everybody's goal is to mix the two of them. So [we're] taking the best -- the speed and the rigor of the small biopharmas -- and then the capabilities, the marketing capabilities, of the larger big pharma companies, and trying to combine the two.

So that's the basis of our strategy and what we're working on now.

This is a change in strategy from when our competency model was originally launched ... So it's taking that, trying to use that to support our vision of helping patients prevail over serious medical illnesses going to next biopharma.

And ... the pillars [are to] innovate [and] integrate, and in order to do those things ... how do we move, how do we change people's behaviors so that we can support those pillars and become what is biopharma.

So we looked at, what are the gaps and what is the culture that we need to change? What [do] we need to move towards? What does the future need to look like? And how are we going to get there?

And we evolved our competency model to support those so it's agile, entrepreneurial and accountable -- all things that you see more on the biologic side and not so much in the big pharma bureaucratic organizations.

So, based on those, we adapted our, what we call the Core BMS Behaviors and this is the foundation of our competency model -- instead of calling them competencies.

Not everyone in the organization can relate to what [competency] means. We call them, just simply behaviors, a term globally that everyone can relate to. And so the six core behaviors that we have now are directly aligned to this culture that we're trying to create to be able to drive that strategy to move towards a biopharma culture.

Matt Redmond:

OK, with Starwood, it's A Tale of Two Cities. Prior to 2006, we were coming out of the Fortune 300 start-up. When Norm says that it was a green-filled opportunity, it literally was.

The previous people processes from the three companies, Westin, Sheraton and Starwood Lodging, just did not exist, or the people that ran them were not there. And it was, you could say that it was a matrix environment, but what that really meant was, you really weren't sure what was in charge, who was in charge with what.

It was very loose entrepreneurial, very region based. And so the whole strategy of the company was focused on building and utilizing a common infrastructure, some core set of processes, trying to get everyone aligned in the same direction and trying to have a point of view about who we were and what we wanted to become.

The first model that came into place was the Global Leadership model and this was a single model to define a culture or a common theme across the entire organization. And as Norm talked about, we could then align all our talent, all our culture tools around it.

The key things around it were 24 areas and six dimensions. I think when we went into this we, you know, did best practices and research. We talked and did a lot of interviews. There was a large global meeting where people had keypads and were voting.

The interesting thing was, a lesson learned, is we thought we'd be skimming this down below 24 areas. Because everyone around the room would look at it with 24 areas. That means you have to fold 24 areas into all your core people processes. It gets a little complex. But they wanted that complexity.

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Two key themes that came out of it that we were driving. One was, Starwood, at the time, was known as the innovator. They were the ones that were going to try. They were going to put white bedspreads in hotel rooms.

People said, 'you can't do that, you can't keep them clean.' They were going to say, 'we're going to put design elements with "W" out there, and do things that people haven't done before.' And they really wanted, they heavily waited on that chain innovation play.

The other piece was, we were primarily a real-estate company. We'd been formed overnight, basically. And so a lot of our senior-management team were focused on leveraging real estate and we wanted to help develop a culture focused on leveraging talent.

So in many people's minds in the field, it was financial, customer and the talent. Up in headquarters, it was a little bit more financial. And so we were trying a unifying culture across the 15,000 managers in over 80 countries.

Norm Perreault:

I think to just echo that point, there were really only a few key things that we want to get out of that competency model ... we called it a success profile -- and that was to create that unifying theme amongst all the different countries, amongst all the different properties.

And to get people aligned around the fact that leadership does matter. So it needed to be, unfortunately, as complex as it was. And it needed to be one single model that was used across all the countries, and really across all levels of managers from your line managers here at the hotel, all the way up to the CEO.

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