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Between Tech and Leadership: A Dialogue on the Evolution of Executive Roles, Part 5

In a world of constant change, the ability to adapt and self-reflect is not just desirable for leaders but essential. But how does one transition from being a specialized expert to a leadership position that combines both technical and entrepreneurial visions?

To delve into this question, we've conducted an extraordinary conversation: an interview not created in the traditional manner. Two renowned entrepreneurs and executives, Philipp Deutscher and Jan Hossfeld, share their insights and experiences in an interview moderated by Artificial Intelligence.

Change- And Conflict-Management

What strategies do you use for effective change management?

Philipp Deutscher: "It simplifies the process of change management considerably, but communication is key to success. If employees understand the goals and visions, and the message is communicated regularly, continuously, and persistently, then acceptance of the change is usually quite high. However, even with perfect communication, an organization can only handle a very limited number of changes in a specific timeframe. How many changes can be supported depends on the culture, the planned changes, and again, communication."

Jan Hossfeld: "Communication is extremely important. What I've learned, in addition to what I mentioned about transparency and clarity, is that the bait must taste good to the fish - not the fisherman. What I mean is that my own communication preference is not decisive. I enjoy writing. It helps me organize my thoughts. Consequently, I also prefer written communication. When I rewrote my company strategy for the next five years, it was about 35 pages long. I heavily edited it for the team, but it was still in writing. My second-level managers indicated that merely publishing it didn't have the desired effect. So, I communicated it in three ways: I published the document, discussed it in a team meeting, and created a video with some background information for internal distribution. So, everything I said about decisions applies, plus the realization that suitable communication does not have to match one's own preference."

How do you handle conflicts, especially when they affect the direction or strategy of the company?

Philipp Deutscher: "Many fail by not recognizing the conflict (in time). It is vitally important because only then can you begin to understand the causes and promote open communication. A consensus may not always be possible and in some cases, not even a compromise. That's okay as long as communication is conducted on an equal footing and respectfully. And sometimes it means 'disagree and commit.'"

Jan Hossfeld: "Clarity is key here too. Assuming everything I have described has been done, there will always be someone who disagrees. Viewing this as 'okay', not as a personal attack, is a tough job. But it's necessary to shape the conflict constructively. Being constructive means that both sides can explain their views, compare them, and evaluate them - and then draw their consequences without equating a potentially negative outcome with a negative statement about the person. Keeping conflicts at the factual level is absolutely essential. And finally, it may be that positions remain incompatible. Then a path is needed. This could be an end to the joint path, or a trial evaluation. One can agree on what outcomes need to occur for both sides to be satisfied. Then strive for these, talk about them regularly, and then possibly renegotiate. This is a way to turn an initial rejection into a joint path. And yet, it must also be clear: Once a decision has been made, it is no longer fundamentally discussed. If a leader allows that, they will never be able to shape a conflict constructively. A decision is discussed factually beforehand. Once made, the responsibility for one's own emotions lies with each individual - as an executive, one can help manage these emotions more constructively. However, one never takes responsibility for them, but for the factual decision and its implementation."



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