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About JFE Shoji Power Canada

JFE Shoji Power Canada (formerly Cogent Power Inc.) is one of the largest and most diversified suppliers of steel materials and components in North America. JFE specializes in what has historically been a niche product: electrical steels, a core component of motors, generators, and electrical transformers.

Strategic inflection points

JFE was facing multiple strategic inflection points: driving accelerated growth, market and industry disruption, and integration post-M&A.

Dramatic changes in the market due to decarbonization, electrification, and the accelerated growth in electrical vehicles, lead to rapidly increasing demand for their products. JFE Shoji had to adapt and shift their mindset from surviving to thriving.

Primary challenges

Integration post M&A: In 2079, the company was acquired by a Japanese firm, JFE Shoji. Under this new ownership, the company had a mandate to drive accelerated growth and got the investment and support to enable that.

Market & Industry Disruptions: The pandemic created unforeseen challenges for the company, including staffing shortages, shipping disruptions, and supply chain issues for raw materials.

CEO Ron Harper was now faced with the complex challenge of managing through the pandemic while at the same time, positioning the company for accelerated growth. Harper realized he needed a way to strengthen the company’s leadership culture and ensure senior leaders were empowered to drive growth and build a greater sense of community.

Leadership Goals

"You need to continue to refer back to the Leadership Contract, especially if you have a very dynamic, challenging business environment, because people easily fall into old habits and behaviors."
Ron Harper
President and CEO


JFE Shoji’s senior leadership team knew that leaders throughout the company would need ongoing support to move out of survival mode.

The opportunity was there for the company to not just survive, but thrive and grow-but leaders needed to learn to trust, to be decisive in solving problems, and to build optimism for the future.

Senior leaders worked hard to share as much information with employees as possible so that everyone could understand the business strategy and feel that, despite uncertainty, they understood the company’s path forward. Building clarity was key to moving people out of survival mode.

The team also worked hard to align leaders around a one-company mindset. Their legacy leadership culture was very hierarchical, but the CEO and senior leaders knew that the company couldn’t meet its goals if leaders continually referred problems up the chain to more senior leaders to resolve

Leaders at all levels needed to tackle the hard work of leadership and take accountability for their own behavior, stop waiting for permission or direction from senior leadership, and hold their peers accountable.

52 leaders

signed the JFE Shoji Leadership Contract and committed to being accountable leaders

Strong leadership cultures drive greater results

+ 0 %

increase in individual leadership accountability

+ 0 %

increase in strength of community of leaders

+ 0 %

average increase across all measures on the Community of Leaders Survey™, between Dec 2021 and Jan 2023

How they did it

JFE Shoji engaged Leadership Contract Inc and we worked together to implement the Leadership Accountability System™ .


Define clear expectations for leaders at all levels

We started by clearly defining what JFE Shoji needed to accomplish in terms of changing leaders’ behaviors. Then, we moved to define a clear set of leadership expectations for leaders at all levels by creating a company­-specific Leadership Contract, using The Leadership Contract™ as a foundation.


Honor the past to move forward

Having been in survival mode for multiple years, leaders were stuck in the past.

Through an activity focused on honoring the past, we helped leaders acknowledge the previous eras of JFE and gain a sense of hope from the seemingly impossible struggles that were faced and are now overcome.

This allowed leaders to close the previous chapter and look to the future of JFE Shoji.


Align leaders around a one-company mindset

Aligning leaders around a one-company mindset included key actions such as training leaders at multiple levels in cohorts, and consistently sharing information with employees through town halls and individual and team meetings, so that everyone could understand the business strategy.

This clarity was key to moving people out of survival mode.


Embed new leadership expectations

JFE embedded the new leadership expectations in ongoing processes, including onboarding, performance reviews, and regular team meetings.

For senior leaders, this meant stepping up and no longer tolerating mediocrity.

Using JFE Shoji Leadership Contract as a framework enabled senior leaders to clearly see which leaders were prepared to step up in new ways – and which leaders were not ready to get on board.


Build a stronger leadership community

The company conducted extensive training on how to establish a constructive dialogue with peers. Building a stronger leadership community wouldn’t be possible without leaders being willing to have tough conversations with colleagues.

Through these sessions, leaders at all levels learned that it only takes one person to keep a dialogue going – if they were willing to take accountability and keep pushing a conversation forward, instead of placing blame on their colleague for holding things up, they could solve problems and ultimately establish better relationships.

"It only takes one person to keep a dialogue going."
Ron Harper
President and CEO
"If people get stuck, they're stuck. And you can do all you can to try to help them see that they're stuck. But if they don't accept that they're stuck, my accountability is to take action on it."
Ron Harper
President and CEO

Lessons learned

In a dynamic and volatile business environment, it is easy for leaders to fall back into old habits. By embedding this work into leadership routines and organizational practices, impact is sustained.

Leaders must continually refer back to the JFE Shoji Leadership Contract to ensure they keep moving forward as accountable leaders.

Honoring the past while moving towards the future is crucial. It is important to acknowledge the emotional impact of tough times.

Leaders need to share the stories and honor the hard work that brought the company to the present — while clearly articulating an optimistic vision for the future.

Peer to peer accountability is a huge challenge. When conflict arises, it is tempting for leaders to either sit back and say the other person is the problem or appeal to a supervisor.

The solution always starts with a strong foundation of individual accountability.

Leaders must step up, own their own decisions and behavior, and commit to have the hard conversations.

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