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Leadership.Education.Personality.

A review of the 2017 Steinbeis Competence Day

More than 200 people attended the Steinbeis Competence Day in the Stuttgart Haus der Wirtschaft (House of Commerce) on December 6, 2017. The question they came to examine was how important leadership is in a world of increasing complexity and dynamism. They also looked at challenges currently faced by managers.

In his welcome speech, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Werner G. Faix, Managing Director and founder of the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin and vice-president of Steinbeis University Berlin, highlighted the significant interaction between three closely connected factors: leadership, education, and personality. He also described how managers are educated and how this has changed over time, as well as changes in how companies recruit the next generation of managers.

In a speech revolving around current megatrends, Dr. Andrej Heinke, director of Future Research and Technology Strategy (CR/FUR) at Bosch, discussed how these trends are currently shaping the modern world of work and will continue to do so in the future. He also highlighted how indispensable competent managers are with their individual personalities and education. Developments in new technologies, such as robots, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), are trends that need a particular focus in company research, said Heinke. Pointing to the topic of “machines replacing people,” he called for solidarity and collaboration between humans and machines in the future. Replacing the human workforce with machines would perhaps make sense with repetitive tasks, but if work involves improvisation, creativity, and interaction between humans, machines could not possibly push people into the sidelines, said Heinke.

His presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the focal topic of the day, which was moderated by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Abendschein, managing director of Steinbeis University Berlin. The main focus of the discussion lay in the interaction between leadership, education, and personality. A number of controversial arguments made by experts on education and business were examined, particularly with respect to the  personality of managers. The panel members focused on a comparison between an autocratic manager and a manager who acts as a kind of coach. The speakers were of the consensus that a coach who allows coworkers to work independently based on goals is a more future-compatible manager than the autocrat. Despite this, autocrats were not deemed entirely a bad thing, since autocratic managers can bring certain benefits to a company, especially if they are innovative.

The talks in the afternoon looked at two topics: Synergetics and Self- Organization; Elite Universities: Quo Vadis. Prof. em. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h.c. mult. Hermann Haken presented a concept he developed on synergetics and explained laser experiments and the physical theory of synergetics, a topic he has written about extensively in past decades, producing both theoretical works and applications. In the final talk of the day, Prof. Dr. Giorgi Khubua looked at the differences between an elite university and all other kinds of universities. He made a clear distinction between an elite university and a mass university. According to Khubua, the strongest factor in this respect is the approach to differentiation taken by elite universities. They focus on the quality of students, whereas mass universities place emphasis on the quantity. Khubua described the future of elite universities as so-called network universities, which forge relationships with non-university institutions such as politics, companies, or the arts in order to safeguard quality and economic viability.

The Steinbeis Competence Day 2017 drew to a close with a second panel discussion looking at the main findings of research into education. Moderated by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Werner G. Faix, experts from SIBE discussed the results of doctoral theses written as part of a special research project looking at leadership education. The project was conducted over the last couple of years in collaboration with the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. One finding that was highlighted in particular was the connection between different types of definitions used in business for “leadership” and the educational methods that underlie the term. Dr. Jens Mergenthaler has examined the term “leadership.” In connection with this, he has also looked in greater detail at how managers are trained. A key emphasis made in Mergenthaler’s contributions to the discussion lay in considering those who are managed – not just those who manage. Dr. Stefanie Kisgen has been looking into future developments of management training and provided a prediction for leadership education developments by 2030. In his research, Dr. Ardin Djalali has examined the MBA training given to managers throughout the world and changes in programs as a result of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. In a study conducted by Silke Keim, an analysis was made of the skills people need in management roles. Her study involved examining several thousand competence assessment sheets of up-and-coming managers.

The Steinbeis Competence Day 2017 marked the beginning of a series of international scientific symposia, starting in 2018. The organizers of the events will be the Steinbeis School of International Business and Entrepreneurship and the Steinbeis Foundation. To coincide with the symposia, SIBE will be working with Springer Publishing to produce a scientific journal on fundamental and inspirational ideas, new scientific insights, and reports on the practicalities of providing education in this area. The initiators of the journal are Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Werner G. Faix and Prof. Dr. Rudolf Tippelt.