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Curiosity and Humility – Jill Ader interviewed by Switzerland’s Handelszeitung

  • November 2019

What’s changing at the top level of corporate management? Jill Ader, Chairwoman of Egon Zehnder, provides insights in an interview with Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung. “When it comes to leadership, there is an incredible amount of change going on,” says Ader and points to the integrated leadership advisory service offered by Egon Zehnder. “You can’t simply place a top executive and then walk away,” she says. “We’ve been supporting the integration of CEOs and their teams for years now.”  Ader goes on to talk about the leadership services that Egon Zehnder is driving forward by building in-house capacity and forging partnerships like the one with Mobius Executive Leadership.

“Given the current complexities, a top-down style is no longer wise because good ideas come from everywhere. Executives have to stay humble and be able to say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that.’ Ader argues. Ego trips on the part of top executives actually represent a risk for their company, she says, because these leaders cannot engage and inspire their teams − an important factor when it comes to attracting new talents.

It seems like a rethink has already begun: According to a global survey of CEOs, 78 percent of people in the corner office see the need to change personally.  Curiosity and humility, coupled with a capacity for self-reflection, says Jill Ader, are the key attributes that executives must now bring to the table if they are to be able to respond adequately to changes within the company and in society at large. “It’s not a choice between personal transformation and performance. It takes both,” she says, explaining that “in order to keep pace with these changes, leaders need the curiosity and humility to be open to new trends, to shifts in society, to employees, to the world, to themselves and their own values and feelings. This quality of self-reflection is what’s required of managers today.”

“An Ego Represents a Risk”, an interview with Jill Ader in Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung of October 31, 2019, pp. 1,15 – 17 (full version in German only)


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