Roland Berger Strategy Consultants CEO authors new book on leadership
Burkhard Schwenker asks what characterizes good management in Thinking strategically and managing boldly.  06.01.2009

Leadership has become more difficult. Globalization has reduced confidence in trends and structures and the worldwide economic crisis means management is facing dramatic challenges. Against this backdrop, people's confidence in managers has reached a new low. In light of all this, Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schwenker, CEO of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, has published a new book, "Strategisch denken, mutiger führen" (Thinking strategically and managing boldly), which addresses urgent issues: What characterizes good management? How can you win back lost trust? In his book, Burkhard Schwenker identifies three key dimensions that characterize good management: hands-on skills, courage and character. The book also provides suggestions on how to best combine these three dimensions to lead companies successfully through a crisis.

"Today's managers must always reckon with permanent and drastic changes in their environment and therefore trim their companies – and themselves – to ensure the highest degree of flexibility." That's how Burkhard Schwenker describes the biggest problem facing modern management. "At the same time, they must be able to personally convey security. This means acting as the reliable man or woman at the top and convincing others by virtue of his or her expertise and authority." Today's managers must think strategic and manage boldly. Based on his experience in the world of business financing, Burkhard Schwenker stresses that "courage also means accepting one's own limitations. Carelessness is no replacement for introspection."

Schwenker devotes part of his book to addressing the key challenges facing companies – and ultimately their management. Proper handling of increasing uncertainty as well as growth, the company's key business goal, are both addressed. Schwenker views increasing competition from Asia as a further dimension of globalization. The question for Western companies is not only how to penetrate Asian markets, but how to respond to the growing competition from Asia in their own Western domestic markets. The rising power of capital markets has led to considerable changes in corporate management. The same is true for optimizing the organizational structure along the international value chain. Schwenker also looks at the issue of securing the raw materials, especially in light of the ambivalent situation resulting from the drastic drop in prices over the past few months. He finally provides guidelines that companies can use to take proper action during an unpredictable crisis.

Apart from these individual topics, Schwenker believes the most important statement is that: "Management requires character." Managers must demonstrate courage and prove themselves in their daily work, both at the company and in society at large. Schwenker states that management is always "a challenge faced by individuals who become known and are therefore open to criticism because of their visions, goals, abilities and weaknesses." Furthermore, "management and honesty are not a contradiction in terms, but instead proper management is the ability to convey reality rather than a false sense of security." He thereby outlines a framework for sound, modern corporate management

Together with publisher BrunoMedia Buchverlag and the business magazine "WirtschaftsWoche", Roland Berger Strategy Consultants' book "Strategisch denken, mutiger führen" is the launch of a new series entitled "re:think CEO". Based on the successful "think:act" magazine concept of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, leading managers are provided with compact information and open, provocative perspectives providing food for thought that can be easily digested in one or two domestic flights.