Driving Culture: The Power of Superpowers

Creating a new vision for the future and upgrading an organization to meet future aspirations is no easy feat. As we embarked upon our mission to deliver Consumer Experiences. Automotive Grade., we knew that we needed to transform our culture to engage employees around the globe in a new way of thinking.

More Than a PowerPoint  

While the term “culture” gets a lot of attention these days, I believe it’s one of the most misused and misunderstood terms in business. Many talk about transforming culture, but few “walk the talk.”  

True cultural transformation must be fully committed to by leadership – and be more than just a bullet in a PowerPoint presentation or a sentence on a company website. Leadership must actively and visibly embrace change in order to foster credibility with employees. And employees must be a major part of the journey.  

That journey needs to be authentic. When employees recognize a discrepancy between what is communicated by leadership and behaviors that are observed in the day-to-day environment, they lose their belief in the company's commitment and transformation as a whole. In my career, I have seen several companies face this issue.   

At HARMAN Automotive, we have defined and advanced our target culture in a very purposeful way, starting with senior leadership and spreading to business units, team leaders, and ultimately, our people. We have done this through the creation of Cultural Identities, which we call our Superpowers.  


Our Automotive Leadership Team took our Superpower visuals to a new level by incorporating them into a team-building graffiti session during an end-of-year workshop. That's me top center!


Say Hello to Superpowers

Superpowers aren’t just for superheroes. We all have special talents. As a global company, we decided to harness our collective impact through six Superpowers that guide our cultural transformation.  

These Superpowers represent how we want to act with and toward each other, our customers and our partners – and they have become part of every major divisional  touchpoint and collaboration.

The Power of Superpowers

Fitting together like puzzle pieces, our Superpowers shape our day-to-day work and help us evolve and grow as individuals and as a team. Their infusion starts small and then becomes an intuitive part of our processes and operations. 


Every day, our leaders show their commitment to real cultural change. They model the Superpowers and embrace them fully. As a result, our employees worldwide are adopting and activating Superpowers in everything we do.

Measuring Success 

We strategically designed the Superpowers to be measurable and accountable – with specific targets for every Automotive employee. We believe these are real behaviors which will fuel the successful implementation of our Automotive Strategy. 

What does this look like? It’s visible in bold moves that are truly transformational and transformative as well as in everyday life at HARMAN. You see it as you walk around our offices – from posters on the walls to stickers on laptops and branded swag. You hear it in the narrative of our workshops, events and team meetings. And new employees are introduced to Superpowers in their onboarding. 


The Superpower Series 

As we move forward into the new year, we will share posts from employees around the globe on our Superpowers and how each manifest in our daily work.  

HARMAN Automotive is changing the game with new products that enhance the in-cabin experience – and a new way of working that will fuel purpose and long-term success for our people. Stay tuned here for more on our transformation!


The remixed icons quickly became part of our work culture - as posters in all of our physical sites, desk-set cards to remind employees of their Superpowers, even as backgrounds for virtual meetings.

About Me – More on Markus Helfrich 

Markus serves as SVP Human Resources for HARMAN Automotive where he is responsible for all HARMAN Automotive employees. A global Human Resources executive, Markus has more than twenty years of significant experience in successfully designing and implementing HR strategies as well as managing HR operations and projects for notable brands including BMW and Ericsson.

​Markus Helfrich​​

SVP Human Resources, Automotive Division​ ​​at HARMAN International​​

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