At the end of her first year as General Manager of Eli Lilly and Company, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Simone Thomsen took a risk and let the organization’s Leadership Challenge Team (LCT) design and facilitate the Leadership Conference for the top 120 leaders in the organization. The LCT was a group of employees from different levels in the organization who were known for their courage, creativity and out of the box thinking and who had the mandate to give the Thomsen and her top team honest and candid feedback.The conference was unlike anything the organization had seen, and it was and it was a great success. It launched the idea of building an augenhoehe culture in Lilly Germany—a culture of working eye-to-eye, or on equal footing. This culture would challenge many long-standing assumptions about the role of hierarchy and management in the organization that made some people uncomfortable. But Thomsen and Stefan Bauer, Transformation and Capabilities Leader, created the conditions to form a critical mass of people who were energized and inspired by the change. Business results started to improve significantly.
• What are the elements of an augenhoehe culture—a culture where people are eye-to-eye, or on the same footing—and how can you energize people to create such a culture?
Eli Lilly, Health Care, Pharmaceuticals
2014 to 2019
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