At Viessmann, servant leadership is at the heart of our leadership practices. Leaders are given the competencies, the skills, and the tools that they need to drive change in the workplace and to empower their teams.
Leadership is a group effort at Viessmann: It’s a conversation between our leaders and their teams – one built on empowerment and sustained by internal support networks. It’s called servant leadership: Whereas traditional management methods rely on a top-down approach to team building, ownership, and accountability, we encourage our leaders to nurture staff members towards making their own decisions, which allows both parties to focus on delivering the best customer service possible.
“We find that, on the one hand, we need our people to be willing to try something new,” says Chinyere Enyinna, Head of Leadership Development at Viessmann. “But on the other hand, we also want to develop leaders who enable this type of courage – leaders who enable trust, and who really create an environment where people feel trusted; leaders who appreciate when people try something new, and also leaders who are clear about the goal and what they expect or what success looks like.” To that end, servant leadership champions three core practices around which leaders can orient themselves: customer-driven practices, performance-driven practices, and people-driven practices.
Customer-driven practices guide a team’s sense of purpose – it provides context to each team’s work, motivates actions that benefit the customer, and pushes teams to create seamless, satisfying solutions for our customers and users. Performance-driven practices, on the other hand, create sustainable growth by establishing clear benchmarks across functions: Our leaders should encourage their teams to make decisions based on data and reason, and they should ensure that progress is toward shared goals, favoring long-term success over short-term fixes. The people-driven practices, however, bring together leaders and their teams. Leaders serve their teams, empowering them and providing what they need, while demonstrating fairness, humility, and other values in action, not just on paper. Both receiving and offering feedback are integral for leaders to grow alongside their teams – leadership is a process in our offices.
“What we’re looking to develop is leaders who can empower teams to make their own decisions so that the leaders can focus on leading,” Chinyere says, emphasizing that the three practices are as flexible as they are expansive. Whereas traditional management practices offer clear hierarchies, we encourage responsive and reactive management styles that work with teams and leaders at an individual level rather than dictating their path to success. To serve customers and clients best, our family needs to be able to do their best work. The leadership principles at Viessmann are informed by this relationship.
The same guidance is offered to employees hoping to continue to advance their careers at Viessmann. Chinyere says, “One of the things we are clear on is that in this new type of cross-functional organization, we can’t only have one type of career.” For those interested, the career development process can include Viessmann’s Leadership Academy.
We assemble groups of around 30 employees based on their potential and their interest in becoming a leader in the workplace, and they work in cross-functional teams, building and developing the necessary foundation to lead a team of their own. Our Leadership Academy’s curriculum is made-to-measure for each participant’s background and goals, and it’s just one of the on- and-off-the-job opportunities for advancement that we offer at Viessmann.
Whereas traditional career ladders are based on hierarchies and linear growth, we value employees for their existing talents and skill sets as well as those which they hope to develop and nurture in their roles. Through our People Growth Review processes, leaders collaborate across functions in order to highlight employees’ key strengths, deliberate on their potential and create tailor-made career plans wherever possible. It’s a way for workplace leaders to empower their teams: The process facilitates meaningful guidance based on the existing trust they share.
It’s what we are known best for: Customers choose to work with Viessmann for our thoughtful and collaborative approach. The employee experience at Viessmann is no different. We offer a supportive workplace at all levels, one that both values and celebrates individuality and diversity. Traditional management practices can be restrictive to both leaders and their teams. At Viessmann, customer success requires the success of employees – and the leadership practices reflect that. As Chinyere says, “We choose a more personalized way of developing our people”.