Dr. Schlecht, three years ago, you initiated the campaign FÜHRUNG+X (LEADERSHIP + X) in order to discuss leadership issues. Together with the Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin | LEIZ and five other renowned research institutes, you are addressing various aspects of good leadership. In the first year, Creativity took the place of X, followed by Responsibility in the following year, and Trust in 2020. In the meantime, the format has become one of the highlights in the cooperation with and among the projects you support. Especially in 2020, a year that has been overshadowed by the pandemic, communication was maintained by means of personal interviews with outstanding partners in podcast format.
What was your key motivation to launch this campaign in this format three years ago?
With the five-year campaign FÜHRUNG+X we want to bundle the know-how from our network in a special way. The Karl Schlecht Foundation has initiated and supported outstanding institutes at various universities and institutions that all look at, and work, on the topic of "Good Leadership" from different perspectives. We wanted to combine these different perspectives in order to advance the understanding of good leadership. It was important to me to do this not in a purely academic format, but to develop creative formats that allow the topic of good leadership to be experienced haptically, visually and emotionally. At the same time, this approach enables our sponsored partners to get to know each other and to approach each other outside the academic context.
What are the considerations behind the various annual themes?
Every year, FÜHRUNG+X is dedicated to a different competence that makes "Good Leadership" possible. We always select this annual theme together with all the partners involved in the so-called “call for ideas”. We started with "Creativity" in 2018, followed by "Responsibility" in 2019 and "Trust" in 2020.
How does one have to envisage the annual calls for ideas, which you refer to as experiential formats, being implemented in terms of processes and to what extent do you involve yourself or the foundation in this process?
Based on the respective annual theme, we at the Karl Schlecht Foundation consider a suitable artistic format for implementation. This should be different from the previous formats so that it remains varied. In 2018, it was a visual exhibit, last year, a script for a staged reading and this year, the conception of a podcast with selected interview partners.
We also think about who can accompany the respective creative topic artistically. I'm happy to be able to contribute to the conception process myself.
In spring, there is always a kick-off workshop with all partners and whoever is providing the artistic accompaniment, within which we work out the "instructions" how all participating institutes can implement the format with their respective students and scholarship holders. In autumn, the results are presented in a final round - again in the form of a workshop. The institutes receive experienced artistic support throughout the year for their realisation.
Within all workshops, there is a lively exchange between the sponsored partners which, in my experience, everyone finds very enriching.
To what extent are the students and young leaders involved in this format?
Since the institutes work with their students and scholarship holders on the annual formats, the young leaders are closely involved. For us, the Karl Schlecht Foundation, it is particularly important to get to know and include the ideas and thoughts of the emerging generation of leaders.
A nice side effect of this format has always been the resulting personal contact between the individual project partners and your foundation. Is there a plan to maintain this in times of social distancing?
This side-effect is also very important for us. In times of social distancing this is, of course, not easy, but we try to shape the digital workshop formats as varied as possible and thus maintain this exchange.
How is the diversity of the sponsored projects reflected in the implementation of the theme campaigns?
The diversity of the funded projects is very noticeable in the results that are generated within the project. Our partners bring in an ethical-moral viewpoint, the psychological and the creative-empathetic perspective and focus on the start-up scene, as well as the viewpoint of leadership excellence. All creative results reflect these different perspectives.
Can you already name the topic for next year?
The term for next year will most likely be "LEADERSHIP+Empathy", but the final discussion with all partners will take place in early November.
Thank you for the interview and the insights!
Dr. Katrin Schlecht, Member of the Board of the Karl Schlecht Foundation in conversation with Evelyn Pachta, Manager External Relations and Communication LEIZ.