MEL in Action: A Case Study
Much of our research involves using the MEL Index methodology in selected companies to assist them address specific issues of concern (building a senior leadership team; creating the competencies required for a rapidly changing environment, etc.). We often focus on top managers and high potentials from middle management (leaders of the future?). Here is one recent example:
German Automotive Supplier: The company is a 200 year old family-owned and family-run supplier to the automotive industry. At the time of the case study revenues were about €450 m with an ambitious goal of reaching €700 m within 5 years. Continued family control of the company very much determined institutional beliefs and values which, in turn, greatly impacted the way operational activities are undertaken.
To help reach their growth targets, the company launched a leadership development program to be attended by senior (18) and mid-level (24) managers. The MEL Index was administered to all attendees. We asked each participant to do a self-evaluation of their own MEL capabilities along with a peer evaluation of each of their colleagues in their specific group.
There was considerable deviation between the self-evaluation and the peer evaluations for many senior executives. In particular, the CEO saw himself as a leader, while his peers saw him as much more of a manager. The mid-level managers, who report to the senior executives, saw the CEO quite different from their bosses - more as a leader and entrepreneur. This was possibly because ratings were based on expectations rather than experiences.
Middle-managers voiced considerable concern about lack of innovation within the firm, caused by an inherent conservatism in senior ranks. Such a reserved view of opportunity search was supported by weak entrepreneur scores for the entire top team. There was general agreement that stronger leadership was needed at the top of the company along with an improved entrepreneurial perspective and a more ambitious future orientation. Indeed, the CEO (a family member) and a few other senior executives were soon asked to leave out of concern for the company’s health and progress. The CEO was replaced by a non-family member in a move initiated by the head of the advisory board – himself a family member and evaluated as both a strong entrepreneur and leader.3
Note that the MEL scoring acted as a powerful catalyst for discussion on the current position, reasons for the current status and suggestions for improvement moving forward. We believe it can do the same for your organization.