The Overview


Novartis is a global healthcare company based in Switzerland that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide. It operates businesses with global scale and strong customer ties, focusing on innovative patented medicines, generics and eye care devices. In July 2015, Novartis had a market-cap of around $280 billion, making it the largest healthcare company by this metric.


The Brief

What The Client Asked For

Novartis Oncology identified the need to offer a cross section of their management teams the opportunity to look ‘outside the box’ by looking ‘inside the person’, not only acknowledging the obvious need within their business for a people-oriented approach, but to recognise and develop the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI). As described by its main instigator, Daniel Goleman, EI is “the capacity for recognising your own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well, in ourselves and in our relationships”. Novartis therefore required the development of a series of workshops to help managers in Europe and the US understand EI as a critical success factor for their business, and how it links with management and leadership competencies in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.

Coaching session - face to face

The Solution

What We Delivered

Primeast initially developed the “Dynamic Management and Leadership” series of workshops delivered in Switzerland and the USA to help leaders understand EI and know when they see, feel, hear and experience it. The workshops also linked EI with project, matrix and team management, as well as the Oncology Five Behaviours for Success. Participants were able to understand their own EI, its impact on others and how to develop it, using an Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQi) diagnostic tool that measures across five key areas; Self-Perception, Stress Management, Self-Expression, Decision Making and Interpersonal. The workshops also helped participants to understand how to use EI in business and as part of feedback, as well as how it can be utilised to engage teams going forward. In this way, organisational success was found through tuning into the interpersonal skills, not only providing benefit to the individual, but also to Novartis as a whole; teams, project groups, clinical partnerships and customer interactions.

Following the initial success of “Dynamic Management and Leadership”, Primeast designed and delivered a “Building Productive Relationships” programme for team members and technical experts. While the objectives of these workshops were similar in terms of understanding yourself and others, they also focused on using EI to build personal relationships and develop influencing skills.

The Results

What We Achieved

The ongoing success of these two programmes led to the development of an “EI for Executives” programme, which represented a high impact and tailored approach in support of the development of senior leaders. To this end, the programme took a deeper dive into leadership through the lens of EI, using a 360 version of the EQI diagnostic to gain a wider perspective of an individual’s style and relationships. In addition, participants received 1:1 personalised coaching to support the workshop content, with individualised strategies being identified to develop and grow a broader leadership style in an effective and appropriate manner. Both the workshops and the coaching were tailored to individual needs, and were focused on helping participants to play to their strengths.

Further developments from the introduction of EI focused workshops within Novartis by Primeast included interactive training sessions on the topic of ‘EI in Action’ during the Biometrics and Data Management division annual conference in the US, as well as abridged versions of the “Dynamic Management and Leadership” material at client conferences in Spain and China. An “Innovative Leadership: Mastering Resilience” programme was also introduced to the business, which focused on the resilience elements of EI and how to cope with the stresses and strains of fast-paced, deadline-centric organisations. The programme explores the use of a Mental Toughness questionnaire (MTQ48), as well as the concept of leading in a VUCA world where tension between technical and adaptive leadership occurs, to help shift participants’ leadership approaches and thinking.

Novartis Oncology have been delighted with the impact of the introduction of these various Emotional Intelligence programmes, with transformational results being seen amongst Supervisors, Managers and Executives. Not only are Novartis’ leaders learning to demonstrate an understanding of themselves and the contributions they make, they are displaying powerful improvements in interpersonal and professional skills, having become stronger, more balanced and aware individuals who are motivated to take their teams to high performance. As empowered individuals, eager to generate new business opportunities, initiatives and challenges, leaders are encouraged to display greater resilience and coping mechanisms through an understanding of how to operate and function more effectively. Organisational benefits include:

  • a wider understanding of, and ability to demonstrate, the importance of a people-orientated culture
  • a true appreciation of people’s contribution and the triggers that can be utilised to bring about positive change
  • increased professional and personal fulfilment
  • higher self-esteem and confidence in dealing with personal interactions both across the business, and in cross-functional (matrix) projects
  • greater influencing skills reported through positive mirrored behaviour

At all levels of Novartis Oncology, there is a shared understanding of how powerful an open, communicative approach can be.