2 min read

Transformation Leadership: Sailing through adversity

Transformation Leadership with Christiane Wijsen

Leaders have such a pivotal impact on whether things succeed or fail so how can they make sure the transformation they are leading leaves a positive legacy and not a negative legacy? In episode 4 of this bonus miniseries of Leadership2050, Andrew White and co-host Adam Canwell of EY talk to Christiane Wijsen, Head of Corporate Strategy and Consulting at Boehringer Ingelheim, about the importance of emotional intelligence and creating a safe environment where people can speak up and talk about their concerns.

We'll find solutions together. So you can count on me. I will do it. We will do it together the right way.


As a frequent sailor Christiane compares leading transformation to sailing. Some days when you go out on your boat you can have perfect weather and it can be smooth sailing to reach your destination. But other days when you go out sailing it can be very unpredictable, the weather can turn and you can get into a lot of trouble, so you have to adapt and keep the team spirit and moral up.

For this special deep dive into transformation leadership Andrew has teamed up with research partner Adam Canwell, from the EY organisation, to explore the journey global leaders and their workforce go through as they lead their organisations through significant change. The need to transform successfully – and to do so continuously – is an imperative for all organisations and as part of this project the research team surveyed 935 senior leaders and direct reports, as well as 1,127 workforce members from around the globe and across multiple industries. And yet, despite all the advances in technological capability, management theory, and huge investments of money, time and resources over the last 25 years, the failure rate of transformations remains stubbornly high. Andrew and Adam aim is to demystify the process of transformation and by studying the complex factors behind the high failure rate of transformations they explore how leaders can drive transformations that result in lasting change.

Andrew's research and teaching focuses on how leaders transcend 21st century challenges such as disruptive technology change and the climate crisis. Also, how they create cultures that are diverse, inclusive, resilient and high performing, alongside the ongoing challenge of delivering profitable growth. At Oxford he directs the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme, and works with leaders from industry and governments across the world.