Working with people is something Mette and Tina have always enjoyed. Before joining Chr. Hansen, Mette has been active in various student programs and participated in examinations. Tina has always found it important to look forward to coming to work and being content when leaving, and she realized that through becoming a leader, she could help make others feel this way. Ultimately, pursuing a leadership path became a natural next step in both their careers.
Using your background in your leadership
Your main role as a leader is to guide your employees. With backgrounds as lab technicians, Mette and Tina have experienced first-hand some of the tasks and projects their employees work on, and this gives them valuable knowledge. “I believe that my background as a lab technician gives me a better insight to both technicians’ and scientists’ workday and everyday challenges, and I use this in my leadership,” Mette says. Tina joins in and explains that her background makes her aware of her employees’ limits and possibilities, enabling her to optimize her leadership. “The very core of being a manager and leading a team is to do exactly that – lead. It is not my job to take credit for what my employees are discovering or developing, but it is my job to lead the way so they can shine,” she says.
Leadership development programs
All new leaders in Chr. Hansen take part in a training and development course called CONNECT-U. The course aims to give new leaders a thorough understanding of themselves on both a personal and professional level to make them aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Reflecting Chr. Hansen’s strong belief in strengthening employees’ abilities, the program takes an individualized approach to personal development – honing the individual’s unique assets rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
For Mette, one specific tool from her CONNECT-U training stands out from the rest. “The self-reflection exercise called ‘The Iceberg’ aims to explore both what is above and underneath an individual’s surface. It allowed me to explore and understand my values, beliefs, and motivations and how they influence how I act and express myself. The reflections made me understand myself better both as a leader and privately.” Tina participated in one of the very first CONNECT-U programs and has since been a coach for other leaders in the program. “I think the program is a great investment for good leadership, and I enjoy being able to pass on my own learnings to others,” Tina says.
A common leadership language
CONNECT-U trainings take place across all Chr. Hansen’s sites worldwide, providing leaders with a common reference tool no matter where they are in the world. Being a global company, the leaders in Chr. Hansen constantly work together across borders and continents, so a streamlined training and development program, while still leaving room for the individual, gives a common language across the organization.
Going from employee to leader
Taking the leap from being a co-worker to leading those around you can be difficult. It is a big change both for the new leader and for his/her employees. “Moving from being a colleague to a leader is not only a challenge for the person doing it, but it also has a huge effect on people around you that have to adapt to a new reality. It takes time, effort, and patience. I believe that you as a new leader have to give your employees space in such situations while you set the direction and emphasize and acknowledge that it takes time getting used to the new routines,” Mette says.
A strong network of leaders
Because of the potential difficulties during the transition from colleague to leader, training and development programs such as CONNECT-U are in place to make sure new leaders in Chr. Hansen are helped in the best way possible. For Tina, great support from her leader colleagues in Chr. Hansen helped her in the transition. “They gave me very helpful sparring and advice, and I could use their experiences in my own ways to develop as a leader while maintaining my individuality.”
“What got you here, won’t get you there”
Being a leader is a dynamic task that changes along with new projects, employees, and learnings. As with most things in an innovative company, people get smarter and find new ways of doing things. The same goes for leaders. “Leadership is changing all the time, and nothing can or should stay stationary. You have to always remember that you have to evolve as a person and as a leader – as I like to say ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’.”
Chr. Hansen’s leadership programs are continuously updated so they fulfill the needs of our leaders. The aim is to continue to have a solid base for training and development of leaders to make sure they have the tools to guide their employees, secure a pleasant work environment, and drive innovation – like Mette and Tina do every day.