Modeling from the best is one way of improving your performance and Kasper Rorsted falls into that category. During his eight years in charge of Henkel Kasper increased revenue by approximately ~28%, increased Ebit by ~60 percent, doubled the profits and tripled the share price.
These results would be impressive in any period, but given that much of this was achieved as the world came went through a global economic crisis, makes them even more impressive. It was this performance that helped him to become ranked #18 best performing CEO by Harvard business review, and will have played a part in him being named the new CEO of Adidas taking over on August 1st, 2016.
I had the pleasure of working in Henkel during this period and I got to witness Kaspers leadership style first hand. I learnt a lot from his approach, much of which I implemented within my department to achieve great success.
Here are seven lessons from his time at Henkel that you can learn and look to apply in your business, to drive great results.
1 Set Outrageous Goals
It's bold goals which inspire our teams; which challenge them to achieve their full potential, and deliver amazing results. Kasper set the goal for Henkel, in 2008, to increase pretax profit margins from 10 percent to 16 percent within just three years. This was a 40 percent increase in profitability, a goal which many believed impossible, but one that forced the organization to think differently and to challenge the way they did everything.
2 Clarity is Crucial
Henkel was a 48,000 employee business, yet everyone in the company knew what the goals were. This ensured that everyone was pulling not only in the same direction but also the right direction. Simple, clear and consistent communication was key to ensuring that every in the organization understood the vision and direction.
3 The Targets Remain The Targets
The one phrase Kasper repeated more than any other was the targets remain the targets. Once the goal had been set the objective was to meet it. The goals did not change because circumstances changed; it was expected that everyone had planned for all eventualities. This created a can do will do attitude within the organization which helped to achieve the targets even during tough market conditions.
The easy option would be to relax the goals if things became difficult, but Kasper remained persistent and consistent. The goals that had been set were the goals that had to be met.
4 Increased Simplicity Leads to Increases Profits
Tony Robins says "Complexity is the enemy of execution.' and this was a view that Kasper seemed to share with a passion. During his tenure, we simplified the vision and mission of the company, consolidated manufacturing sites, reduced the number of brands from over 1000 down to around 400.
5 Competition Creates a Winning Culture
To get a company performing at optimum levels you need to create a Winning Culture, one where the organization is looking to improve performance on a continual basis. To do this the performance management system was completely overhauled, with a strong emphasis on identifying the top performers and ensuring that they were not only well rewarded and that they also received above-average bonuses too. This created competition and drove people to strive to become top performers and to receive these increased incentives.
6 The More You Know The Faster You Grow
Kasper was always asking questions whether it was to understand a process, what people's roles were, or their thoughts on how things could be improved. The better you understand your business, the better the position you are in to improve it. Kaspers question not only improved his knowledge, but his challenging questions often helped people to understand better their roles too, and also got them to think differently about them.
7 People Work Harder With You Than For You
In spite of being CEO, in my experience, Kasper was always friendly and approachable. He seemed comfortable speaking to everyone, at every level and on any subject This created a strong feeling that you were working with him, rather than for him. It helped to increase the buy-in to his aggressive strategy.
These lessons are not just applicable to multi-billion dollar business, they would help improve performance in both small and medium enterprises.
So if you want to transform your companies performance then be bold, be clear, be persistent, simplify, reward your top performers, ask questions and be personable.