The announcement of the Business Round Table last week: This is something remarkable and soothing times to read such a positive impulse. Even if in Germany probably everyone thinks: “Finally,” the Americans have understood that with the shareholder value thinking, humanity in the economy has fallen by the wayside. That was also my first reaction and I wish that the companies would take it seriously. That would have a lot of impact, even in the context of the “Friday for Future” movement, because, strictly speaking, the environment is also a stakeholder.
But my second thought is another, and I do not want to withhold it. I recently had a conversation with a CEO of one of the largest German privately owned companies, who honestly admitted that leadership and trust are not among the organization’s strengths, but will determine success in the future. If the Anglo-Saxon-influenced companies and corporations make this announcement of the Round Tables true, then one of the last unique selling points of the business backbone, the bigger privately owned companies from our so called “Mittelstand” falls, namely the value orientation. In our country, values in business are important, especially in “Mittelstand”, but the leadership skills are completely underexposed, because the companies have relied too long on their good products and announcements from their owners. German engineering granted for decades enough success. Today, however, it is not just quality that counts, but above all speed, ability to change and the ability to create a culture of cooperation. That is the task of the executives. The Anglo-Saxon-influenced companies and corporations have much better control over this because they have been investing in leadership, talent development and cultural transformation for many years. There is a lot of catching up to do in the German Mittelstand sector without equal. In addition to the slow digitization another risk factor. We are seeing a lot of companies and entrepreneurs who still believe that trust is created by order and leadership is something that comes through a title with the task of explaining to its people the results they want, how to do their job with regulation, control and extrinsic motivators.
I really hope that the above mentioned positive trend becomes an effective wake up call!