The CEO as an human dignity’s advocate

Joe Kaeser, the CEO of Siemens, who was recently described in a commentary of the world as acting in an autocratic and encroaching manner, speaks calmly, almost thoughtfully, but with a powerfully sonorous voice. The audience consists of about 180 entrepreneurs and people interested in business at Tegernsee. And they are amazed at what they hear from the economic leader, who is often scolded in the media: He addresses them, the sensitive issues and he doesn’t mince his words:

The upheavals in the economy caused by digitalisation and disruption are becoming brutal. We haven’t had such challenges since the Second World War. The 5 biggest challenges for Kaeser are: 1) the rapid rise of populism 2) global migration 3) climate change 4) the disruptive power of new technologies and 5) the opportunism of ruthless actors in politics and economy. 

Joe Kaeser CEO Siemens
Joe Kaeser CEO Siemens

Kaeser positions himself clearly and somewhat unexpectedly for many listeners: Humanity must not fall by the wayside with all these difficulties. Too often in the past, people were ignored when it came to initiating change. People are faced with many changes and these changes understandably frighten them. It is the task of politics, business and society to prepare people for change and to promote their willingness to adapt. According to Ludwig Erhardt, the social market economy with its well-known “prosperity for all” must be reformulated for the present day with

"dignified living for all."

Openness to the world is the only true “alternative for Germany” if we want human dignity to remain inviolable.

"What we put into investment infrastructure today, we don't need to put into extended social systems later."

Family businesses and handicrafts must also be supported and strengthened. Because the craft trades will also be the central pillar of our domestic economy in the digitalization process.
Kaeser is also invoking European unity. Only a united Europe, which together stands up for its own interests, can stand up to the two superpowers China and the USA in the economy.
Climate change with its challenges must be recognized as an opportunity. Kaeser would rather see young people taking to the streets and getting involved than “watching TV series over popcorn and bad food at home. Sustainability and entrepreneurship must go hand in hand. Here lies a great opportunity, especially for innovative technologies from German production. In doing so, he refers to the long tradition of German founders:

"Germany had founders before Silicon Valley even had a garage."

After the lecture at the Bavarian buffet, the listeners are in agreement. They needed someone like Joe Kaeser more often: a corporate leader who interferes and not only looks at the next quarterly figures, but also at the big picture and the social responsibility of companies.

The CEO as an advocate for human was originally published at LinkedIn in German Languange (ürde-nikolai-a-behr/)

About the author:

Dr. Nikolai A. Behr is an executive coach and trainer for communication and leadership skills at DIKT Deutsches Institut für Kommunikations- & MedienTraining GmbH in Munich Germany.

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