Rob van Tulder, RSM
Rob van Tulder, RSM
Aligning corporations and society: what leadership is needed?
Professor Rob van Tulder from RSM’s Department of Business-Society Management took the Summit audience through a high-level analysis of the characteristics of leadership. New leaders should accept that they must adapt to the company rather than making the company adapt to them. Being a person with sensitivity entering an existing culture was a good approach to management, he said.
Aligning with society
Professor van Tulder said companies need to present their value proposition to align themselves with society; NGOs and civil society organisation create and add living value, and governments enable value creation. The value in leadership depends on context, said the professor, and is strongly related to the value proposition of the company, as is the legitimacy of the leader; it’s not about maximising profit, neither minimising cost, maximising output, nor being the biggest or the first because these are aspects and functions of finance, purchasing and supply chain, HRM and strategic management.
What sets the agenda is what is material to your company and to your stakeholders. Almost every company in the world tries to develop mottos of their philosophy and value proposition to engage with its stakeholders.
Presenting to the outside world
Bayer's value proposition ‘science for a better life’ deals with presenting science from inside the company to the outside world. The ‘better life’ part represents an external alignment of cultures, and he observed that the number of pages in Bayer’s annual reports carrying materiality issues – such as those reporting sustainability issues, access to medicine, stakeholder engagement and partnering – grows every year. All of them are challenges for leadership, said the professor, and addressing global goals makes a positive frame for companies, as does ‘not switching them every year depending on what's in the headlines’. “Bayer is probably well positioned for those goals,” he said.
He advised that a leader’s toolkit should contain combination of roles, and on the basis of Marijn Dekkers’ presentation, leaders should not concentrate on transactions of efficiency. “It’s about thought leadership,” he said. Leaders must manage a portfolio of partnerships, and be open to bringing in critical partners because they help you to address challenging issues, and remain flexible.