An International Brewery

The challenge

A multi-million dollar sustainability project lasting for four months was led by a sustainability manager and carried out by a team of people coming from very different disciplines and departments. All team members were convinced they were right and tried to stick to their own views based on their discipline, work experience, cultural background and personal preferences. They were unable to listen to or consider other members’ ideas, nor did they seem willing to share information with each other. As a result, the project was delayed and was getting increasingly costly, due to recurring travel and accommodation expenses, among other things. This in turn caused frustration for the manager and she started to lose confidence. The general management became impatient too.

How could we ensure that the project manager empowers her team so that everyone would start singing from the same hymn sheet?

Anna’s vision

Creating sustainable relationships is key when parties aim to achieve a shared goal and finding the right way of communication is essential. In a durable relationship you get to know each other, learn from each other, accept each other and show cognitive flexibility and empathy and you build friendships. You can support each other outside working hours, advise and praise each other.

This results in lower frustration levels and less negativity on the work floor, as well as lower absenteeism, better results, sincere motivation and pride and confidence in oneself and one’s team.

The approach

What this team needed most was for members to learn to listen to each other and to welcome one another’s views without judgment. Also, resistance to sharing information with each other had to be taken away.

After considering the best way to coach individual members and customising my approach accordingly, I use multiple techniques, including:

  • Logging activities and results systematically on a dashboard
  • Giving feedback and teaching team members to give and receive feedback (this involves both communication and language skills)
  • Asking the right questions the right way. I apply this technique myself and teach it to the team members.
  • By using concepts from classical music as metaphors, I explain that harmony is a real possibility, even though there seem to be many conflicting views.
  • Engaging in a dialogue instead of having an argument
  • Feeling the difference between reaction and response
  • Learning to listen, allowing each other to speak one’s mind
  • Using language flexibly
  • Spotlighting cognitive flexibility and empathy by means of exercises and emphasising the importance of doing so.

Contact Anna

Would you like to root sustainable leadership communication in your vital skill set? Are you curious as to what classical music could mean to communicating in your business?


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