Developing and measuring leadership at OSRAM

At German lighting manufacturer OSRAM, the Essentials of Leadership Program (ELP) is the global standard for developing first-time leaders with a local “flavor.” OSRAM expects for these leaders to succeed by mastering behaviors based on fundamental leadership principles. In this article, we’ll show you why and how OSRAM measures behavioral change among its leaders, and the positive impact this has on the organization.

By leadership expert Marcel Thierry & senior consultant Linda Kleijer - this article was first published in Dutch in 'Tijdschrift voor Ontwikkeling in Organisaties' (Magazine for Organizational Development).

We’ll give some examples of the behavior you see in practice when 98% of participants say that they are in better shape to serve as leaders after taking part in the program. OSRAM is using the development of leadership principles as an example for other leadership programs within its organization.


OSRAM’s history is more than a century long. Today, it’s a publicly traded company headquartered in Munich, Germany, with a workforce of 23,500 employees. The company’s vision is “Light for a better world.” OSRAM is achieving this vision through its mission: “Using the endless possibilities of light to improve the lives of people.” The lighting industry is highly dynamic, agile and competitive. Within this challenging market, OSRAM must continue to grow while also stimulating development and innovation. This is why one of the company’s core competencies is its strong focus on continuous learning and development to enable it to keep ahead of the fierce competition.

Goals of the Essentials of Leadership Program

OSRAM wants to develop a single leadership style within its organization with the intention of stimulating growth and innovation. It’s important to develop new leadership principles to be able to deal sustainably with the changes that the organization faces. The key to this is new leadership behavior.

To achieve this strategy, four basic principles must be put into place:

  • Developing talent: unleashing engagement and growth;
  • Entrepreneurship: shaping innovation and changing the mindset;
  • Collaboration: leveraging the power of trust and networks;
  • Clarity: ensuring complete accountability and clarity.

Why measure the impact of the ELP?

Evidence-based work and measuring impacts are part of the company DNA at OSRAM, where a vast team of highly educated technicians work to solve complex problems. There are multiple reasons why the company wants to measure the impact of the ELP. On the one hand, they want to ensure the program is a success, after having a negative experience in the past with a leadership program that lacked the flexibility they needed. On the other hand, the company wants to identify the tangible results that the program delivers. This enables them to determine whether the ELP succeeds in making their leaders more ambitious. It also enables them to continually improve the program and apply positive aspects of it on a wider scale within the organization in the form of other leadership programs. Measuring the effectiveness of the program is our way of keeping it flexible. If the measurement shows that something isn’t working, we adjust the program. The more often we perform measurements to improve the program, the more flexible the program becomes.

Business alignment

A range of sources was used to determine why a new leadership program was necessary. Is there a problem, or are we pursuing an opportunity (Philips & Philips, 2012)?

  • The target group evaluated the existing program and laid out their specific expectations for a future program.
  • Board members and other senior executives were interviewed.
  • Input was taken from benchmark studies and exchanges with international high-tech companies.
  • During the internal Global Learning Summit at OSRAM, representatives from all regions exchanged ideas on future leadership development programs.

The analysis showed that the ELP needed to instill three things in leaders: the strategy, the company values and the leadership principles. The company values apply to every OSRAM employee; these are: adaptability, empowerment, openness, passion for performance and risk-taking.

What do we measure?

OSRAM wants to know how satisfied participants are with the program, what they’ve learned, and which behaviors they’ve adopted since being in the program. To find this out, we survey both participants and managers with regard to specific behaviors related to leadership competencies. For example, OSRAM measures whether:

  • the program meets the participants’ needs and whether they are satisfied with how it’s being conducted;
  • the subject matter can be applied to their work;
  • their leadership behavior changes because of the program;
  • what effect this has on the organization.

Our focus is on how participants take what they’ve learned and implement it in their working environments, as well as how they work on individual goals.

How do we measure?

We measure at two different points: the evaluation and the follow-up measurement. The evaluation takes place after every module, and the follow-up measurement takes place three months after the program is finished.

"New leadership behavior is the key"

Evaluation after each module

Participants answer written questions on levels 1 and 2. These questions always follow the structure of the modules and are to be compared:

  • Analysis of the program: the content of the program and the benefit of the approach, the value of the course material, the organization of the module, the quality of the location.
  • Execution of the program in practice: balance between theory and practice, opportunity to work on personal goals, suitability for implementation into everyday work.
  • Learning progress: working on personal goals, applying what they’ve learned, applying skills on the job (relevance to their day-to-day work).
  • Performance (trainer): expertise on the subject matter, responsiveness towards the participants in general and towards individual goals, to-the-point explanation.

Because of the global scale of the program, it is important to evaluate trainers in terms of their cultural sensitivity and their support in helping participants apply the subject matter to their everyday work.

To test whether the approach is experience-oriented, we collect information on the effectiveness of the buddy approach and the peer-to-peer coaching during and, above all, long after the program. This data gives us a clear view of how networks develop.

ELP design

The program is structured into three modules: (1) Me as a leader; (2) Me & my employee; (3) Me & my team. The program’s approach focuses on the head (vision of leadership), the heart (personal leadership and leadership mentality) and hands (skills).

Figure 1. The ELP leadership development program approach at OSRAM

The program is blended, experience-oriented and personalized. This was a new approach for OSRAM. The combination of learning methods (such as online learning, on-the-job assignments, buddy coaching, peer-to-peer coaching and face-to-face sessions) makes ELP different from leadership programs OSRAM has implemented in the past. Because the program is experience-oriented and personalized, it's up to the participants themselves to determine the topics they want to discuss. The program is developed to enable participants to network and work together beyond the boundaries of their own departments. By getting the participants’ managers involved from the very outset of the program (for example, by working together to formulate individual learning goals) and asking them to support in implementing the subject matter, we ensure that a consistent leadership approach is implemented throughout the company. Participants ask their peers and managers for feedback. After that, we encourage participants to start a conversation with the people who give them feedback. During the program, we also ask the managers to give feedback on their employees’ behavior and to evaluate their employees’ development. This is how we achieve “assessment as learning” (Dochy et al., 2015) and fuel not only the learning process but also the impact measurement.

Follow-up measurement 

Three months after completing the program, the participants and their managers fill out a questionnaire. This measurement focuses on level 3. The questions are about:

  • putting the subject matter into practice;
  • changes in leadership behavior, and
  • the impact on the organization, such as changes in the working environment and working on individual goals.

The participant questionnaire surveys how sustainable the lessons learned during the program are, how the participants are changing and making progress with regard to their leadership behavior and whether the participants feel they are growing in their new position.

The survey focuses heavily on improving the performance of team members, as participants reflect on their impact on the organization.

The manager survey focuses on how leadership behavior has improved among the participants and the positive impact this has on team performance and the organization as a whole. The Kirkpatrick model is used to categorize our measurements (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2019). We measure on levels 1 (satisfaction), 2 (learning results) and 3 (behavior).

What are the results?

Today, the Essentials of Leadership Program has been in place for five years and has enjoyed great success. In the evaluation, participants in all regions (North and South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific) throughout all five years have given the program an average score of 8.7 (on a scale of 0 to 10). They have given the facilitators an average score of 8.2 and the program organization an average score of 8.2. The evaluation helped us prove how important managerial support is to helping participants implement their own personal learning plan. This helps participants to effectively serve in their roles, even after the program is finished, and it encourages continuous dialog and learning.

"Stronger communication within the teams leads to efficiency and greater trust."

Thanks to the follow-up measurement, we are able to report valuable behavior on level 3:

  • 96% of the participants say they are sufficiently using and applying the intended skills in their job.
  • 94% say the program enables them to work on personal goals.
  • 98% is better equipped to serve as a leader; their managers recognize and confirm this.
  • 100% say they are able to manage the performance of their team members more effectively.
  • 100% say they are better at dealing with challenging situations.

In the follow-up measurement, the participants’ managers confirm that they recognize the following changes in the behavior of these first-time leaders:

  • Stronger sense of ownership; more confidence and initiative.
  • Giving more responsibility to the team and being a motivator.
  • Strong self-reflection and the ability to define their own role within their department and the company
  • Effective behavior in conflict situations.
  • More effective decision-making.
  • Improved ability to delegate tasks.
  • Understanding team members better.
  • Taking more responsibilities for outcomes and results.
  • Pursuing continual improvement, both personally and professionally.

Based on the results, we can conclude that the participants are highly aware of their responsibilities as leaders and their own role in achieving better results with their team and with the organization as a whole. Team members are taking on the responsibility of exploring these topics themselves. Stronger communication within the teams leads to efficiency and greater trust. The employees are more engaged and identify with the company. Table 1 shows three of the ten behavioral changes that were identified based on the follow-up measurement.

Benefits of measuring impact for OSRAM

The results of the impact measurement show that first-time leaders are developing the kind of behavior that supports the leadership competencies OSRAM is interested in. Thanks to the global scale and large number of participants, OSRAM has been successful at embedding the mindset with essential leadership skills throughout the company. Programs for advanced and senior leaders build upon these skills. Within OSRAM, the number of nominations for the ELP has increased worldwide, and the program is receiving positive feedback. The impact measurement shows that the program is still a good match for the dynamic market in which OSRAM operates and for the challenges facing the company. This shows that, compared with previous leadership programs, the ELP is a more sustainable choice.

Table 1. Behavioral changes based on the follow-up measurement
Participants’ behavior after the program, according to their managers Participants’ behavior after the program, according to themselves Match with practical goals accomplished Match with organizational goals accomplished
Stronger sense of ownership; more confidence and initiative More (pro)active Identifying their own behavior preferences and personal values Courage and steadfastness Taking risks
Strong self-reflection and the ability to define their own role within their department and the company

Aware of their role as a leader

Periodically returning to their personal compass
Reflecting on the change in roles from expert to leader


Understanding team members better

Better at leading different personality types

Applying situational leadership

More patient
Understanding employee satisfaction, engagement and motivation

Diversity, respect and leveraging working with differences


















Of course, measurement takes time and money. In any case, by measuring the results and impacts on the organization, the impact measurement has kept this program alive and well at OSRAM, while other programs have failed to survive cost-reduction measures. The impact measurement makes the success of the blended, experience-oriented approach tangible. The program achieves a strong connection with day-to-day work and enhances on-the-job learning within OSRAM, which keeps knowledge fresh, changes habits and helps participants to develop new behaviors to reach and maintain their team’s goals, as well as the goals of the organization. The ELP provides various tools and processes that enable participants to engage in continuous learning, such as building networks, scrum buddies and mentoring or coaching.

The results of the impact measurement also provide information to help improve the program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program became fully remote in 2020. In 2021, we will begin offering face-to-face sessions again wherever possible. Due to the acquisition of OSRAM by Ams, an Austria-based company specializing in advanced sensor solutions, the entire mix of program components will be revised next year to maintain its innovative character and realign it with the new culture and leadership principles of the entire company. At that point, a key question will be, “What do we measure, and for what purpose?” OSRAM’s own ambitions will serve as a guide in that process. This enables us to purposefully choose which qualitative and quantitative data we collect, analyze, use and report. The changes in behavior that the managers have observed offer opportunities for improving the program. For example, we are creating a new blended method for measuring the effect of the program using various tools (Kirkpatrick Partners, 2015). Findings on the performance of participants will enable us to maximize results for OSRAM.

Successful collaboration based on shared responsibility

Measuring the impact and results has laid the groundwork for a partnership for developing the leadership competencies within OSRAM, throughout the company’s global structure. This partnership is built upon shared ownership and co-creation.

The findings of the impact measurement provide insights on whether the program is still optimally aligned with OSRAM’s dynamic market situation, and what is or isn’t working. Although L&D professionals argue that new behavior cannot always be attributed to a learning trajectory, we see the value in measuring the impact of learning programs. L&D has a duty to perform systematic measurements based on business alignment at various levels, so they create opportunities for improving learning programs. The approach they take depends on the goals they want to achieve. In the case of OSRAM, it is clear that this investment has paid off. The impact measurement has resulted in a valuable collaboration.

The Association for Talent Development presented Schouten Global and OSRAM with the ATD Excellence in Practice Award in 2018 in the category of Leadership/Management Development.

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