Anders Vedin ex-MD of Astra Hassle, one of the largest research subsidiaries of the Astra group, describes the challenge of leadership - how he had to change himself in order to unlock the next level of organisational performance.

In 1985 Anders Vedin was offered the job of becoming MD of Astra Hassle. 'Did I hesitate? No, should I have? Yes! I was managing 450 people of whom some 100 were high-powered PhDs and, frankly, many others had much more managerial and leadership experience than me. I made loads of mistakes and had to discover for myself the meaning of leadership.'

At the time Astra was launching 2 major drugs onto the global market and one was destined to become the world's largest selling drug. We were facing more than trebling our headcount over a 5 year period and the challenge for my leadership was to find the time to spend on the right things to sustain success.

As leader of the company Anders was aware that his own style was holding himself back and probably holding others back too. He knew he had become too operational too hands on and not sufficiently strategic. His mindset about leadership was that the role of the leader is to make 'decisions, decisions, decisions' rather than to consult, listen and give feedback. Not surprisingly this same work pattern cascaded down the organisation.

Anders knew that although his style had taken him to high levels of success he had to change if this success was to be sustainable. He had to find ways to step back, to become more strategic and he had to find new ways of interacting with people.

He was comfortable giving people positive feedback 'that was no bid deal'. But he was much less comfortable giving straight, fair criticism and he pulled back from giving this. Although he shirked giving negative feedback people in the senior management team could sense that he was often dissatisfied with their performance and this resulted in a 'less than open atmosphere' and a lack of motivation.

Anders realised that unless he could find a new way of interacting with people then his style of interaction would continue to hold back the team. As a result he started a search to find an external consultant to coach him, help him stand back, hopefully change his way of working and to change the dynamics of the top team.

His HR director recommended 28 consultants. From the list they selected Roger Evans and his partners at CLC. Roger coached Anders to step back and self reflect more on the strengths and weaknesses and psychological drivers of his leadership style. As  a result Anders significantly shifted his style 'I started to play to my strengths and admit my limitations, and I dared to challenge. I was much more willing to go freewheeling with ideas, and I even didn't mind admitting that I didn't have all the answers!' As Anders changed so too did others.

This seemed to unlock the atmosphere in the top team. Anders became less hands on, and found more time to lead and at the same time his direct reports became less hands on and they too found more time to lead. As Anders changed at work the effect spilled over to the rest of his life 'my quality of life improved. It's benefited my family, my happiness, and my growing self confidence has enabled me to continue to seek new challenges'.

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