People empowerment and purpose leadership by Jeff Gravenhorst, CEO ISS

How can global companies inspire leaders at any level? How can every employee contribute to success? How can the CEO of a global company with nearly 500,000 employees inspire each one to go the extra mile? 

On November 2, ISS Group CEO Jeff Gravenhorst shared his experience of how people empowerment and purpose leadership drive everything from margins to customer satisfaction.

Applicable for almost any industry, but especially in the environment that ISS Group operates in, people are the key to success. Direct client interaction is the number one driver to effectively solve client issues and increase client satisfaction. For this reason, ISS Group puts a significant focus on getting the best out of their talent through rotation, engagement and leadership.

Jeff described in much detail and with lively examples how he has led ISS Group through a transformation that includes getting listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in Denmark’s biggest IPO in two decades. Any large transformation requires change management, and on the question of how to lead change his answer was clear: “Purpose is key!” At ISS Group, he explained, everyone’s focus therefore lies on finding purpose. This may be within the boundaries of the employees’ job description, but most often is not. “Finding purpose” is of such high importance that every year employees are honored with a special award when they have done something remarkable in their work environment and anticipated a client’s wishes.

With a combination of extensive knowledge, hands-on leadership advice, long-term vision and overall genuineness, Jeff provided valuable learnings for all participants. “Getting first-hand insights from such a charismatic leader on a personal level is truly inspiring” concluded one of the current Full-time MBA students after the event, which ended in a warm reception with refreshments and drinks.


By Johannes Frank, CBS Full-time MBA student 2017-18