ORGANISATOR, Auch eine Führungskraft ist nur ein Mensch

ORGANISATOR, even a leader is only human

Interview with Organisator by Wirz & Partner


"It's always been said that management is resilient. Or rather: Is it still often said in executive suites? But is it really true?






How resilient, resistant and adaptable are our managers really? Erik Wirz of Wirz & Partners AG in Zug, who recruits managers all the time, should know. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on expectations and reality.


Mr Wirz, we've had two and a half eventful years of pandemic management. And ahead of us is a world that seems as unpredictable as ever. What does that mean for managers? In other words, what are the characteristics of resilient managers today?

ERIK WIRZ: From our perspective, factors such as experience, balance and a sense of what is important make resilient leaders today. They also have a strong sense of purpose and the right amount of curiosity.

How can resilience be measured in leaders?
It won't be an actual measurement, because resilience is evident when the situation is surprising, new and unprecedented in its totality. However, the performance of the organisation in challenging environments usually provides a clear picture. If a leader manages to maintain the course and pace in unpredictable situations, this is usually a reflection of his or her resilience. Think of unforeseen revenue declines, increasing cost pressures, supply chain issues, key performance indicators such as employee turnover and dissatisfaction, and so on. These are all indicators of how a leader handles pressure and whether they are able to lead the organisation to success in the face of adversity. If a leader has repeatedly managed to keep the team together and achieve success in such circumstances, it says a lot about that person.


Are assessments still the method of choice?

I wouldn't answer that question with a simple yes or no. The question is more like this: Why is an assessment carried out? There are several reasons:


• Because it's always done
• Because you cannot or do not want to make decisions without an assessment
• To find out if something was "overlooked" during the recruitment process

• To reduce the personal impression of the decision-makers involved in the recruitment process (bias)

• To analyse personalities and assess the difference between the current leadership team and style and the new leader

• To identify and systematically develop the potential of leaders


With the right intention, professionally administered and interpreted by trained professionals, the assessment tool makes sense. Of course, it must be based on a recognised method and its implementation must be in the hands of a recognised specialist.


Leadership, empathy, decisiveness, leading by example - it's almost like a wish list. It is almost superhuman what is expected of leaders today...

First of all, leaders are only human. Authenticity and openness, as well as "walking the talk", as they say, always pay off. But: A company's resilience does not depend on the leader alone. Decisions such as changes to the business model and the use of innovative technologies in the organisation also contribute to the resilience of an entire company or organisation. From our perspective, the demand for resilience has not changed significantly; it has simply been tested more frequently in recent years. In other words, some leaders have only experienced fair-weather situations, and those times are over for many companies.


How do new leadership models such as holacracy, working with fewer or flatter hierarchies, affect the demands on leaders? Is 'leading' becoming more challenging?

In modern organisational forms, "leading" is done in a servant leadership approach. This means that the leader enables, motivates, ensures communication within the team, acts as an example of values, is a natural role model and convinces through empathy. Above all, they show a genuine interest in people and their individual situations.


How, if at all, can resilience be trained?

Quite simply, by stepping out of your comfort zone as a leader. The same goes for the organisation. Familiar patterns and approaches need to be consciously pushed to their limits. That's how you make yourself and the organisation fit for the new, the unknown.


When can bosses show vulnerability - and what impact can it have on employees?

Everyone has limits, and showing them is a sign of strength and personality. It creates empathy and mutual trust. Only those who open up can expect others to do the same. In other words, leaders who never show weakness are unlikely to be authentic. Instead, they convey an image of arrogance and seem to have no confidence in their own organisation. This behaviour is often seen in leaders who are superficially strong, with a strong ego that does not allow them to show weakness, usually due to a lack of self-confidence.


You have insights into different industries. What differences have you noticed? Where is resilience particularly important and where are other factors more important?

I think resilience is a skill that every industry needs today. When and in what form it is put to the test is another question. For example, when a leader is faced with a situation like restructuring, it is certainly an extraordinary challenge. So it would be wrong to look at resilience in isolation.


As an experienced headhunter, how difficult is it for you to fill particularly "exposed" positions?

I am thinking of companies and organisations that have a strong public presence. Executives and personalities who fit such profiles and have the relevant experience are used to the higher visibility that comes with it. However, the behaviour of the leader in terms of self-presentation, ego, external impact, communication, choice of media and channels is more decisive than the actual exposure in the profession.


Conclusion: What are the current trends in headhunting and executive search, apart from the resilience of managers?

We live in a paradox: we live in a market where full employment is a fact. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult for most companies to find suitable managers. This also applies to us headhunters. Simply tapping into the network of "old" candidates is hardly enough anymore. In particular, we are seeing that prestige and well-known names are no longer a prerequisite for winning mandates or being attractive enough for potential candidates. Expertise, brand relevance, specialisation and clear positioning - combined with high quality and commitment to the recruitment process - are more important than ever for both clients and candidates.





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