Before participating in CEOx1Day, what qualities did you think would make for a good leader?
I thought a good leader would be charismatic, someone who can inspire their employees with a vision. Caring for their team is also a must—a leader is someone who aims to bring their team together regardless of their differences. In terms of ability, they’d also have to be a strategic thinker, who can see the bigger picture and help craft it into individual objectives for their team members.
Having spent a day with your matched CEO, what have you learnt about what makes a good leader?
I didn’t realise that being down-to-earth could be charismatic, but that’s how Claus was. He’s humble about his strengths, and with him it’s always about the team, and joint achievements, and others’ efforts, with hardly any mention of himself. During lunch, he was the one to serve food onto our plates, rather than the other way around. He cracks jokes with the team, and is friendly even with the newest Bayer employees.
He also brings caring to the next level—he strives to always empathise with his team. He genuinely believes that a good leader is someone who understands the way each of his employees sees the world. And it shows in how he understands the points someone is trying to make even before they’ve fully hammered it out to the rest of the team, in how he knows what resources someone needs without them having to request for it, and in many other situations. With empathy, it’s all in the details.
And while strategic thinking is important, the ability to communicate it clearly is probably just as vital. Claus was a structured speaker who chose his words deliberately; it was easy to follow his train of thought.
There may be many other traits that make a good leader, but I believe that having those three would be a great starting point.