Sony – Leadership Case Study

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Sony

Leadership Case Study

The challenge

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for consumer and professional markets.

Over recent years, the electronics industry has seen huge change and fierce competition from new players in the market, such as the rise of smartphones and tablets. They have also had to deal with the outcomes of the global financial crisis, where discretionary spending was greatly reduced and margins eroded.

The Sony Electronics companies across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) recognise that volatility and uncertainty are now the norm for their industry. They know that strong and effective leadership is vital in order to navigate teams towards success. The challenge for the Mantle team was to design and develop a leadership initiative that engaged the whole senior leadership group across both companies in the vision, taking in to account fluctuating strategies. It also needed to give them time to stop, reflect and collaborate on the best way forward for the business, while continuing to build their leadership capability.

This was not a traditional leadership programme, but rather a facilitated series of leadership forums. These focused on the current business environment and what leaders needed to do to achieve success.

Our approach

The team from Mantle worked in partnership with the HR group across ANZ to design and deliver a series of leadership forums throughout 2013. The following factors were seen as critical in their subsequent success:

  • Critical leadership competencies were identified up front and used as the foundation for a 360 degree process which identified some common needs
  • The content of the forums was dynamic to reflect the nature of the business and the need to be nimble in response to the market conditions. The overall context was set as leading in a volatile and ambiguous world
  • Capability development was also a focus on the changing environment and the need for leaders to step up and lead their teams in difficult conditions. This made it authentic, relevant and of immediate use outside of the forums
  • The series of two day forums gave senior leaders the opportunity to step back from the operation and reflect on their own and their team’s ‘state of play’. This allowed them to regularly re-focus on what they could control in order to keep themselves and their teams motivated and focused
  • Collaboration is seen as key as the two ANZ companies work together to achieve the overall vision and strategy of Sony. Leaders found it useful to get to know each other at a more personal level and to meet their colleagues who can help them to get things done with less organisational ‘noise’
  • Mantle designed and facilitated the forums, but were very open to moving the agenda around to suit the current situation and needs of the group to add the most value
Organisational impact

The following benefits have already been identified by the organisation:

  • During the year, several changes took place at the executive level within ANZ. The subsequent leadership forum allowed the leadership group to meet the new MD and to hear an honest evaluation of their current and future situation. The group then worked on the key messages that they wanted to share with their teams in order to help them to better understand the strategies that were being introduced
  • At that time, the new executive group was still formulating their overall vision. The forum gave the leadership group the opportunity to recognise that they did not have to wait for the whole picture; in fact, that picture would be constantly changing. Many went away with a renewed energy and a plan to revisit their own team’s vision in the current climate and what they know they need to achieve
  • The companies have been through significant change over the year. This was the key focus for the final forum – the responsibility of leaders to lead change. For some of the leaders, there was a realisation that they had allowed themselves to get caught up in the problems and drama that change can drive.They had done this rather than stepping back and remaining positive and focused on the future, particularly when discussing the changes with their teams. This was a significant step that created a more positive attitude throughout the group by the end of the two days
  • The new MD has a different style and approach to his predecessor. The group collaborated on some key leadership principles that they believe are important to engage their teams and achieve continued success at Sony ANZ. They agreed that members of their group would present this to the new Executive Team to establish the principles through the wider leadership group