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In an interview with Germany’s Manager Magazin, Jill Ader, who takes over as Chairwoman of Egon Zehnder in November 2018, talks about the new challenges that CEOs are facing today. “The casual tone and relaxed outfits that many CEOs like to show off nowadays may be meant to signal a new style. But genuine openness requires a lot more,” she says. Expectations of corporate leaders are as high as ever, but they are also expected to deliver a “certain something” more: “In the new world order, decisive signals can come in from all directions – from employees within the company as well as from the outside. To be able to interpret these signals, it takes curiosity, intuition, and sensitivity.”

As a result, along with traditional Executive Search, the topic of Leadership Advisory is becoming ever more relevant for Egon Zehnder’s clients: “More active reflection on yourself and your role as CEO also helps combat the loneliness at the top that many complain about,” says Ader. It’s no longer the “omniscient top manager” that is in demand, she underlines: “In the new world of collaborative leadership, in the best possible case the CEO would be less isolated. They don’t have to have all the answers; they can ask questions – even consult their supervisory boards.”

In Ader’s view, AI and digitalization are not threats but potential opportunities for the leadership advisory firm. “The requirements placed on top executives in today’s volatile world are too complex for data tools,” she says. “AI tools can provide reference points, but are no replacement for human judgement. If that ever changes, I assure you we’ll be the first to work with them.”

Manager Magazin “Das ist Steinzeit-Denken”, pp. 100-102; Issue 11/18 in German (€)

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