Case Study – ICA.

The Nordics’ Largest Retailer

Getting More From Their Leadership

We have worked with ICA since 2009, helping them to select, assess and develop their leaders and leadership teams, making leadership a team game.

ICA is the largest retail company in the Nordic countries, with a turnover of over £9 billion and more than 70,000 staff working across 2,000 stores, offices and logistic sites. ICA’s primary focus is food retailing but the Group also includes real estate, financial services and pharmacy businesses.

In 2009, ICA was in the process of transformation. As part of the business’ improvement plans, they wanted a leadership language that would help them to clarify and develop the leadership styles and behaviours required for the future of the business. The language also needed to reflect their culture and business structure, which emphasises collaboration and consultation.

The Project

Where Edgecumbe came in

ICA’s senior team liked our “incomplete leader” approach and philosophy of building balanced, complementary teams. They therefore asked us to help them to:

  • assess their current leadership capability;
  • make leadership a ‘team game’ throughout their organisation; and
  • develop their leadership, individually and collectively.

What We Did

Assessing and Developing Senior Leadership

We started with the top team as it was crucial to have them drive the process throughout the organisation. We assessed each member of the team, providing them with individual feedback and development planning support. We also ran alignment workshops with the team to help them make sense of how their individual strengths and limitations played out within the team dynamics, and how they could work more effectively together.

Over the next two years, we assessed the top leadership teams and provided team workshops for each major operating company and corporate function within the Group.

In order to develop the senior leadership group as a whole we designed a week-long executive programme in partnership with Oxford Saïd Business School. The programme, which usually runs annually, is built around the Primary Colours Leadership Model. Sessions provide insights, frameworks and practical tools in each section of the model and help leaders to apply the thinking to their team and business, and to ICA as a whole. Alongside world-class faculty from Oxford, we bring in external speakers to give different perspectives and stimulate ICA’s thinking. The focus of the programme changes each year to ensure it remains relevant.

Helping ICA to work sustainably with the model

Once we had worked with the top 90 leaders, the appetite for the Primary Colours Leadership Model was strong and ICA decided to embed the ideas throughout the organisation. This would mean working with several thousands of managers. The HR team and ICA Management School were tasked with implementation and we have now trained 70 internal people at ICA to use the Primary Colours tools and to deliver leadership assessments, feedback and coaching. This has helped ICA to ‘live’ the approach throughout the Group.

Analytics: What does great leadership look like at ICA Group?

Over time, by collecting personality, behavioural and performance data for hundreds of ICA leaders, we have been able to build a picture of characteristics of leadership associated with success in ICA’s context. We have been able to show that it is the alignment between culture and leadership style that creates the sense of a good leader among staff.

Based on this analysis, we are helping ICA to shape and refine its selection and development processes further, in order to build the leadership the organisation needs for the future.

What Were the impacts?

The Results

Since we started working with ICA in 2009 the Group’s performance has gone from strength to strength, reflected in the share price rising by 300% in 5 years and employee engagement results going from good to great!