On Monday, April 29, 2019, EU Business School (EU) welcomed the chairman of Siemens and Maersk, Jim Hagemann Snabe, to Barcelona to share ‘Dreams and Details’, the vision of leadership he devised with his partner of the Dreams and Details Academy and former CEO of volleyball in Denmark, Mikael Trolle. Both distinguished executives enthralled the 700-strong audience at L’Auditori of Barcelona with a presentation which challenged many current management theories including the value of planning.
“Large companies need to reinvent themselves from a position of strength in order to remain relevant” in the current, rapidly changing world of global business, stated Mr. Hagemann Snabe. This, he said, may be seen as counter-intuitive: if a company is doing well, why change anything? But this, believes Mr. Snabe, is precisely when businesses should reassess where they want to be, and reinvent themselves in order to flourish in a new and very different future. “All industries will go through dramatic change. All assumptions will no longer be relevant,” said Mr. Hagemann Snabe. The linear, results-based business models based on historic data no longer work. As a result, all companies, of whatever size, should function as startups, by being disruptive, creative, adaptable and “doing things differently.”
“I believe that great leaders build the people around them. They don’t have the answers all the time; they enable people to find the answers, and therefore empowerment plays a very important role in my kind of leadership”
Jim Hagemann Snabe
Chairman of Siemens and Mærsk
Mr. Snabe described how inspirational he found Mikael Trolle, the former CEO of volleyball in Denmark, because he could take a group of amateurs and develop them into a world-class team. Although Mr. Snabe and Mr. Trolle come from very different worlds – business and sports – they saw similarities in how they lead high-performing sports teams and high-performing businesses through directional change. Together, they developed a leadership model which they present in their book Dreams and Details and which they pursue at the Dreams and Details Academy. Mr. Trolle outlined the model to the audience and explained how, in order to drive change, successful businesses should challenge their current model and move forward by formulating a ‘dream’ that will inspire everyone in the company. At SAP, for example, Mr. Snabe galvanized his team by giving them the dream of connecting one billion users. “To achieve the dream,” explained Mr. Trolle, “it is essential to change the mindset of the team and create meaningful, integrated motivation that will unleash their potential.” This new leadership model champions empowerment above all and encourages leaders to not limit employees “by making them deliver on plans that will probably be wrong because they are never exponential.”
When asked about the future, the speakers forecast that those combining manufacturing and digital competences will be the next giants. Moreover, they have an optimistic outlook toward the future believing that, through the application of current technologies, there will be less waste and better use of resources.
After the presentation, Mr. Peter Vanham, lead writer and US media lead from the World Economic Forum (WEF), conducted an in-depth interview about the professional trajectories and leadership model devised by both executives. The need to remain curious, be humble, always learn and make yourself replaceable were key pieces advice given to EU Business School students, the leaders of tomorrow.
This conference was part of the influential ‘Learning from Leaders’ series which plays a key role in the exclusive, hands-on, experiential business education provided by EU Business School. This gives students the opportunity to gain insights from top executives into the latest business trends, strategic concepts and the day-to-day running of some of the world’s biggest organizations.