“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” – this is how Bill Gates has once described the future of leadership. A well-known definition by a man who is truly recognized as one of the greatest in business. But is it a precise and appropriate one, as well? One thing is for certain: There are various definitions of what leadership is, what it does and to what end.
Reason enough for MBS lecturer Prof. Dr. Marc-Michael Bergfeld to address “The Future of Leadership” in the 25th and latest edition of his MBA networking event series Dine & Discuss on September 14, 2016. About 60 MBS students, alumni and faculty, as well as a visiting group of Ecuadorian entrepreneurs, had come together at traditional Bavarian restaurant Paulaner im Tal, located right in the Munich city center, to enjoy a delicious three-course menu along with presentations by leadership experts from corporate practice: Kay Segler, Senior Vice President Special Projects Asia at BMW, and Timm Barlet, Director Global Dealer Network Strategy at AUDI.
Get People Emotionalized
After a warm welcome by Prof. Dr. Bergfeld, Timm Barlet was the first to enter the stage. He gave a brief summary of his duties at AUDI being responsible for the worldwide dealer network. He then shifted attention to current trends in the automotive industry as well as universal business challenges such as the increasing complexity, volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity of today’s markets.
Talking about the crucial properties of tomorrow’s leaders, Timm Barlet listed competencies such as the ability to adapt to trends and surroundings, self-awareness and collaborative thinking. “You have to get people emotionalized so they do good work themselves. This is achieved by being polite, giving and taking feedback, sharing information and, above all, trusting your people,” the expert summarized his perception of leadership.
L = (YxT)(S+N)
A main course later, Kay Segler followed up with an exceptional approach as he summarized his idea of leadership in a “mathematical” formula: L = (YxT)(S+N) or, in full, (Leadership is the product of You and Them to the power of Signals plus Network). “You and them is the fundament of leadership. Based upon that, you have to send signals, but not the wrong ones, and make use of your network. It’s as easy as that.”
For each of his formula’s components, Kay Segler had an anecdote at hand to share with the audience. He especially emphasized the importance of the network factor: “Networking starts in situations where you can help, not when you need help. You have to invest first and nurture your network in a personal sense. At a later stage, you will eventually benefit from it,” he closed his speech.
After a subsequent Q&A session, lively discussions arose amongst the attendant guests, on leadership, but other business topics as well. “Another evening full of inspirations and fruitful discussions has come to close. I want to thank all participants. I hope everybody is looking forward to the next edition of Dine & Discuss as much as I am,” Prof. Dr. Bergfeld said goodbye to the audience.