Transition, Transformation, Turning AroundPeriodical 13 // JANUARY 2016
Infallible gods have “existed” ever since. Today, we have a new species of Untouchables. Leaders.
Merkel had become the most influential woman in the world. She was the undisputed leader in Europe, no man left on a par with her. And most people would have thought that this would never change since she seemed to stay down to earth, capable of feeling the needs and fears of her electorate.
But then, even she made a dramatic political mistake. I am not at all talking about the substance of her immigration policy. Instead, it is all about communication. There are two ways: one can be soft in words and hard in action or the other way round. Now, what surprises me: she has seen it all, various crises and still...why wouldn’t she just admit a mistake? Why not end it all right and there and focus on the necessary, concrete action?
Looking at the business side, Volkswagen and its leadership surprise significantly less. For a long time, everybody was wondering what was going to happen after the patriarchs step down. The patriarchs who do not care about anything in their way, who kind of take everybody else to be stupid, who always get their way. They leave a void. Yes, everybody was scared of what would happen inside of Volkswagen on the day after. But, of course, this attitude does not go with today’s reality either. And so it first happened outside the firm.
But there are also beacons in business. I had the chance to meet a very special entrepreneur. Leslie Dewan, 31 from Boston, who just founded a company
to build a new nuclear power plant in the US. Another untouchable topic. Further developing a technology from the 1960s, she plans to use liquid uranium rather than solid rods, thereby using 96 percent rather than 4 percent of the energy of uranium. This plant would actually run on the nuclear waste of conventional power plants.
A modern leader. A daring entrepreneur. But she calls herself an environmentalist. So what is it that today’s leaders need? They need to lead, being decisive but also humble and responsive. They need to listen to the inside and outside of their companies. They need to square the circle.