Changing the firm’s DNA to enable Collaborative Leadership

Aug 27, 2016Case Studies


Background & Challenge

Metro Group underwent a massive change in 2012, welcoming in a new CEO, CHRO, and new board members.

The challenge was to enable the organisation’s leaders to both develop and implement changes across the global business for it to be a success. These would transform the delivery model in stores, product offerings, and the structure of internal functions such as IT, Real Estate, Supply Chain, Marketing and Non-Foods.


The objective was to change the firm’s DNA, enabling a collaborative leadership team that felt comfortable taking risks.

In order to do this, there needed to be a change in the DNA at all levels so that it would be less of a hierarchical, control-culture to one that is empowered. This included the relationship between HQ and other countries in order to bolster trust.


“One company, one meaning, one language, one strategy, one action.”

Oxford Leadership collaborated with Heiko Hutmacher, CHRO and the AG Board to develop a culture changing two-step initiative called “Leadership for Growth” using the Oxford Leadership methodologies of Self-Managing Leadership, Capabilities for Change, and Strategic Focusing.

Step 1: Leadership for Growth allowed senior leaders to take the reins across all 22 Metro Cash & Carry markets. This first step helped leaders and employees regain focus, reconnecting the ties of the organisation through a frank and sincere dialogue. It also ensured authenticity and a commitment to transformation while forging social connections and lowering silo barriers within Metro.

Step 2: The next part of the journey had a new challenge: find a way to turn classical, cognitive capability training into an experiential learning process that was effective and applicable to all issues. It also had to continue the transformation set forward in Leadership for Growth.

In the Leadership for Growth 2 wave, seven mission-critical capabilities were identified and trained in experiential learning interventions with a focus on collaboration:

  • Building Trust
  • Celebration & Appreciation
  • Dialogue
  • Team Dynamics
  • Coaching
  • Giving & Receiving Feedback
  • Decision-Making (speed and decisiveness)

Extensive testing and refining led to a powerful experiential programme and a Transformational Story. A five-day “Train the Trainer” programme helped transform leadership capabilities throughout all levels of the organisation.



In 18 months, over 100,000 people had engaged in the Step 1 process. As a result, there was a sense of self-confidence individually and a deeper level of trust throughout the group. In that short time, a solid foundation emerged for rebuilding the winning spirit of the company.

Since April 2014, METRO has trained more than 1,500 managers across more than 10 countries. They have reported back that this programme makes a real impact in the organisation as their managers becomes more skilled in leading meetings, in communication, in respecting different perspectives, and most importantly, in cooperation and cross-functional and cross-country collaboration.

Oxford Leadership has been instrumental in leading ‘Train the Trainer’ courses at METRO AG enabling their own people to become qualified as co-trainers who now assist the up-skilling of their managers in leadership.

The Oxford Leadership facilitator delivers the “Leadership for Growth Program” in an interactive and highly competent manner that challenges and supports our managers in a very effective and empathetic way. Our managers learnt not only the various “techniques,” but more essentially they could explore the theory at the same time in a safe environment. The facilitator is extremely good in expressing her observations in an insightful way that makes people think about their own behaviour and impact they have on others, giving them space to try new behaviours whilst staying authentic to their true self.
Silke HeitmannGroup Director HR OperationsMetro
AuthorBrian Bacon
Chairman & Founder
Brian is Brian is the Chairman and Founder of Oxford Leadership. As a leading global business strategist, Brian Bacon has been involved in more than 30 successful corporate turnarounds and is the creator of one of the world’s most successful leadership development programmes with over 200,000 alumni from 90 countries.
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