Bracing for Uncertainty

09/05/2012 Munich

Siegfried Russwurm

On May 7, IESE Business School hosted an event in Munich with Prof. Siegfried Russwurm, Siemens’ CEO of the Industry Sector, who is also a member of IESE’s International Advisory Board. In the session, led with IESE Prof. Franz Heukamp, he discussed the topic of effective leadership in times of uncertainty.
In a crisis, Russwurm said, it is important to act decisively and not just react to events. This, however, is an ability that should be fostered and nurtured over long periods of time.
The paramount job of a CEO should therefore be to ensure that there is a steady stream of young leaders entering the company over time.  Under no circumstances should CEOs delegate this job to their HR departments: ”As a leader, you should ask yourself if you have someone on your team that you would be willing to work for.”  

True leaders require little hierarchy, if any, he said. Above all, they create a corporate culture that relies on values rather than rules to motivate employees. “If you want to attract the best talent to your company, you should make sure that it is attractive for them.”

Prof. Heukamp, who is IESE's secretary general, pointed out the necessity of an ethically-oriented management culture, which is an important focus of IESE’s executive education programs worldwide.
Studies have shown that people have lost confidence in authority. "We have to make sure that they regain their trust in business leaders," he said.
When asked about the economic challenges faced by Central Europe, Russwurm said the region’s unparalleled ability to deal with complex problems so far made him quite optimistic about its future. In order to prepare for uncertain times ahead,  he advised leaders in the audience to “imagine the craziest scenario and prepare for it."