Renewing leadership to become a high-performing organization

Outokumpu is a global leader in stainless steel. For the last two years, Outokumpu has been during a transformation that has taken the company from a highly challenging market situation into a new, successful business direction.

Business impact:

  • The training programme has created new competence throughout the organization and clarified the strategic objectives among personnel
  • It has, for instance, made the managers’ goal monitoring processes more effective and the personnel more committed to them
  • Employees’ and managers’ satisfaction has improved, and managers’ target-setting processes have become more effective

“We now have, for the first time, a truly global organization”, says Elke Humpert, Vice President, Management Development and Learning, Outokumpu. “As part of our transformation, we also introduced a lot of new, younger managers who had not yet received systematic leadership training. So we decided that this group should be a priority for us.”

To develop the required leadership skills in the organization and to forge a strong link between everyday work and the strategy of the company, Outokumpu implemented the Outokumpu Leader program in 2015. Currently in its third iteration, the program has so far trained some 75 managers across the whole organization, from sales and product development to IT, human resources and finance. The program has been designed and realized in collaboration with Talent Vectia.


“Outokumpu’s vision is to be the best value creator in stainless steel by 2020 through customer orientation and efficiency,” Elke Humpert says. “Our strategy builds on six strategic targets, or must-win battles, through which we aim to drive competitiveness and further improve our financial performance.”

One of these strategic targets is termed “High-Performing Organization”. This includes a set of development initiatives that guide the company’s daily activities and form the basis for performance management.

“We are not carrying out a development program just because it’s what you are supposed to do. All our activities to build leadership skills have a strong link to the strategy of our company, and the topics and behaviours we train really help in fostering a high-performing organization.”

The Outokumpu Leader program has been received with enthusiasm. “We can really see that our managers are very committed to work on our high-performing organization. One example is that almost 100% of our managers have completed the target-setting activities in the performance management process, which is quite extraordinary for any company,” Humpert remarks.


The Outokumpu Leader program features a balanced range of different approaches, including both remote and face-to-face sessions. As part of the program, members of the executive team are invited to talk about their leadership career and what has been important for their success. “In addition to training in general leadership skills and exercises around our strategic topics, we also like to include what we call ‘micro actions’,” says Elke Humpert. “These are about really focusing on a small but very specific thing that people would like to change, and executing that change. This is a great way to get people on the right track without having to worry about all the big strategic things at once.”

Almost one full day of the program is devoted to performance management, and to providing new leaders with insights on why performance management is crucial for high performance. Participants also practice feedback discussions, gaining the skills to both give and receive feedback for the most effective result.

“We try to create a good mix of behaviour and skills training, but also provide some real insights into the ideas behind them. At Outokumpu, we give people a lot of freedom to do things, be proactive, and even take risks, but this freedom comes with responsibility. So ultimately, the training is about communicating to our leaders what we expect from them, and ensuring that everyone knows their role,” Humpert says.

Elke Humpert values collaboration with Talent Vectia.

Humpert values the collaboration with Talent Vectia. “They are true professionals, with a lot of experience in leadership programs. The communication has been excellent, and the Talent Vectia team always brings us continuous ideas for improvement. They are also great in engaging in open dialogue about how to develop the program further together.”

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