“The Superhero Leader is a Thing of the Past”
“Great leaders can be characterized by their competence, character and empathy,” said Haniel Chairman / Photo: Tito Rolón
"IESE is helping to strengthen Munich’s position in Germany and abroad as a hub for innovation, research and technology."
Vice Premier Minister of Bavaria, Joachim Herrmann was a guest of honor at the opening of the new IESE campus in Munich this week, an event that also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the IESE MBA.
Addressing an audience of more than 300 politicians, international business leaders, German executives, partners and alumni, Herrmann said he was "pleased that IESE made the decision some ten years ago to choose Munich as a location for a campus."
He urged attendees to "continue the extraordinary history of IESE here and train many business leaders who will go on to push our world forward."
Herrmann was joined by Franz M. Haniel, chairman of the supervisory board of the Haniel Group, who delivered the event’s keynote address under the theme: "Leadership for Tomorrow’s World."
"The leader as some kind of all-knowing superhero is a thing of the past," Haniel told delegates. "It’s time for us to move away from traditional concepts and practices."
What Makes a Leader Great?
"Great leaders," said Haniel, can be characterized by their competence, character and empathy. "They don’t extrapolate, they anticipate; they are courageous enough to abandon a successful practice if necessary; they accept their social responsibility, build a culture of trust and cooperation and empower others."
Business schools and education have a role in developing ‘competence’, said Haniel, while ‘character’ is built on values and the capacity to "work on weaknesses." ‘Empathy’, he said, is a core quality in leading successfully in today’s multicultural environment, and in finding out "how people tick."
Haniel identified six key characteristics or behaviors that he believes will define the "great leaders of tomorrow."
Six Behaviors Leaders Should Adopt
1. Anticipate the next change in your business model. It is essential to consciously spend time preparing for change and building a culture agile enough to embrace it. To determine where change might come from, leaders should have a diverse network and be on the lookout for discontinuities.
2. Be brave enough to abandon the past. What has worked before might not in the future. Dare to take a different approach.
3. Build an environment of trust and cooperation. "No one heals himself by wounding others," said Haniel. When you treat people with respect you drive engagement and loyalty. In times of adversity, people who have been treated well are willing to get behind their leaders.
4. Have a sense of responsibility. Leaders should act responsibly and ethically, and get involved in finding solutions to today’s problems. "Not doing anything wrong is not enough – take responsibility for the impact your business has on society."
5. Understand how each individual ticks. Each person has his or her own ambition. Good leaders know this and make an effort to find out what motivates their employees and then empower them individually.
6. Follow the three As: anticipate, adapt and act. Navigating uncertainty and responding to change with agility is key to competitive advantage. And empowering the totality of your workforce to respond quickly and get things done is essential.
IESE in Munich and Around the World
Haniel and Herrmann were introduced by Rudolf Repgen, general director of IESE Munich, and IESE Dean, Jordi Canals, who thanked both speakers for their "wisdom and friendship."
Dean Canals situated the opening of the Munich campus within the wider context of the history of IESE: From the early 1960s to the landmark anniversary of the MBA program, and the 10th anniversary of the Advanced Management Program (AMP) in Germany also being celebrated this year.
The AMP Munich, he said, is key among the many top-ranked executive programs that IESE offers from its campuses around the world – in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Sao Paulo, and via its alliance with CEIBS in Shanghai; as well as Africa and parts of Eastern Europe.
"This new campus in Munich will be very important as a focal point for activities in executive development for international companies."
It also "sits well the international dimension and scope of IESE," said Canals, which spans five continents and involves strategic alliances with business schools around the world. He highlighted joint ventures with schools in emerging markets to drive entrepreneurship, and singled out key partnerships with Harvard Business School and Wharton; opportunities to "keep learning" and to "work together to develop the leaders of the future."
"This new campus here in Munich is just the beginning," said Canals. "It is our aim to put IESE’s full, international network of campuses, knowledge and alumni at the service of companies here and across Germany."