Omega Pharma: Empowerment through Leadership Embodiment

Developing presence – a cross-functional initiative

Bertrand Montagner, Human Resources Director wanted to introduce new management practices at Omega Pharma.

“We are in the midst of a rapid transformation. We want to move away from a centralized top down model. I wanted to develop real empowerment. There’s a ton of management training out there, but I wanted our managers to think about their managerial posture in a serious way.” 

Bertrand Montagner also happens to be an amateur musician;  his  music practice made him naturally well aware of the link between one’s interior state of being and performance.

“A friend at SNCF told me about the Presence & Leadership Institute. The practices he described seemed both original and with a direct bearing on real work situations.”

He decided to offer the Leadership Embodiment training on a voluntary basis. A dozen managers quickly showed interest in the proposition, even though it required a certain level of commitment: 1 day of Introduction, followed by 2 months of practice, then one day to go further in-depth. They met as a diverse group, ranging from an industrial director, head of marketing, department heads, a major account manager, to a supply chain manager – all with very different personalities.

Teambuilding based on Embodiment

“What’s really good about the training is that after an hour or so you stop asking questions, everyone is fully engaged and working together and doing things they never thought possible before” said one participant. Even if Presence & Leadership Institute doesn’t label the training directly as a teambuilding, it nevertheless ended up to be an additional benefit. In fact, as soon as we create conditions to meet each other as human beings through meaningful body exercises, the barriers of hierarchy and function suddenly disappear. The openness to  accept one’s limitations and the pleasure to be your best self with others is a deep collective experience.

Experiencing Managerial Posture

« LE training is like no other management or leadership training » says Bertrand Montagner, « Leadership posture is a buzzword but here we really see the difference of impact when we actually change our posture ; it is very concrete. This can even be a little disconcerting for some people. It’s good to let people know this up front.

All of a sudden participants have access to resources they normally wouldn’t even think of looking for. As usual, participants appreciated that the insight they gain also comes with a “tool box” they can use going forward.

As one participant revealed “It’s simple ; I have a presentation to make in front of my board of directors, I now know how to prepare, how to put myself in the optimum state and finally, I have the clear feeling that I make more of an impact.”

Speaking effectively in a meeting

It’s particularly interesting to see what happened back at work over the first couple of months. Each person implemented the practices they felt were most useful to them. Among the testimonials is L. from Marketing, who transformed the way she now presents projects in meetings. L. developed her own ritual to use right before speaking, combining centering and techniques to fire up intention. She finds a significant improvement in her confidence level and connection with others as a result.

Putting Embodiment into practice in client relationship management

Another interesting testimonial came from V, Head of sales for Major Accounts. In his job he had to regularly endure difficult situations, including humiliating conditions imposed on brands by the buyers of large retail chains. In the session, he described the pokey hallway, overheated waiting rooms, being made to wait for ages, the interview room where the salesperson is placed against the wall in front of a table with a panel of buyers talking amongst themselves, loading on the pressure…

We worked specifically on ways that would enable V. to recreate, under these same conditions, a broad space where he felt freer, more relaxed and stronger. Through centering he is now capable of entering the meeting room with Auchan, Leclerc and Carrefour, with a feeling of spaciousness and power: that practice improved his balance and performance. V. considers that the work on his presence is now an integral part of his sales skills. He now knows that he always has a choice about how to respond.