Josef Ackermann or failure in management: Chefspielchen to the bitter end



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Reprint: This text is from the book "Gescheiterte Titanen: Welche neuen Manager unsere Welt braucht (2015)" by Carsten Knop, published at FAZ Verlag, and was left to us for reprint.
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Josef Ackermann is described by companions as vain. This vanity may also explain in part why his departure from Deutsche Bank was so bumpy. Because Ackermann could live a life without ChefI just do not imagine it.

Josef Ackermann or failure in management: Chefspielchen to the bitter end josef-ackermann

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Here writes for you: Carsten Knop is an economics editor at the Frankfurter Allgmeinen Zeitung. Profile

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Without me? Inconceivably!

Overview

The relationship between Josef Ackermann and his two successors Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen is still tense today. Ackermann wanted to replace Axel Weber as his successor instead of their already rather the former Federal Bank president.

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But Weber preferred the chairmanship of the Swiss UBS. When the decision was taken for the double top of Jain and Fitschen then the Deutsche Bank was still unimaginable without him even for Ackermann.

In the end, only resignation remained

Overview

He would have assumed the chairmanship of the supervisory board, which is, however, frowned upon for reasons of good corporate governance, because the predecessor not only controls his successors but also his legacy.

A quarter of the shareholders would have had to agree to a direct change from the Executive Board to the Supervisory Board. This vote, however, became increasingly unlikely, so Ackermann refrained from doing so.

Bad timing

Overview

The decision was announced by the bank on 14. November 2011 with. On the same day, the public prosecutor's investigations and searches in connection with a statement Ackermanns were known in the process, which led the then late former media entrepreneur Leo Kirch against the Deutsche Bank. Worse, the timing for the announcement of Ackermann's farewell could not have turned out.

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That's the way it should go. In the weeks leading up to Ackermann's later departure from Zurich Insurance, it also hit the board of the leading German company Siemens.

Is the call ruined first ...

Overview

There, the replacement of former CEO Peter Löscher was highly controversial. The dissonances in the old board around Löscher also led to conflicts and intrigues on the supervisory board.

Ackermann lavierte around: As a deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board Gerhard Crommes, he himself had allegedly ambitions to replace the weakened boss. Of course everything was denied - both the goal as such and everything else. In any case, Ackermann had also ruined his reputation with Siemens.

Micromanagement is boring

Overview

Towards the end of his time at Deutsche Bank, Ackermann admitted openly that "micromanaging" had not irritated him in the end. Instead, he traveled around the world incessantly; his interlocutors were not just customers of the bank, but above all politicians.

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Ackermann made no secret of his joy over this international prominence. One thing is clear: Ackermann, not the first alpha animal in the economy, has missed the right time to stop. He had already announced 2007 to want to stop in a few years, expressly without switching to the Supervisory Board of the bank. He wanted to pass on experiences, he reasoned at that time: "At the university or maybe in the social sphere."

From Sprinter to Sprinter

Overview

In his youth the Swiss possessed scientific inclinations; Interest in these topics was still present in mature years. He remained faithful to this plan for a long time. In January 2009 Ackermann said at a late hour shortly before the end of the then World Economic Forum in Davos, his retirement planning is fixed.

He has many plans; the first farewell gifts were already coming in. So he reported on a present from the German sprinter Armin Hary, which had moved him. In addition one must know that Ackermann was an enthusiastic athlete in his young years and the career of the approximately eleven years older Hary certainly pursued exactly. Anyway, Hary had left him a book with a meaningful dedication: "From Sprinter to Sprinter."

The perfect time for the finish?

Overview

Back then, Ackermann and his audience knew that Hary had run too far too early in his athletic life. But they still did not know that Ackermann would miss the perfect time to run through the following months.

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He also let pass the opportunity to say goodbye to the impression that Deutsche Bank was brilliantly guided by the financial crisis. His injury time is not good for Ackermann - neither in Germany nor in Switzerland.

There Ackermann had to take his hat as Chairman of the Board of the Zurich Insurance Group, after the former chief financial officer Pierre Wauthier had committed suicide. In a farewell letter Wauthier Ackermann had accused, he had put him under pressure.

Self interest and arrgoganz

Overview

However, later investigations have shown that no "undue pressure" was exerted on Wauthier. Ackermann had always denied the charge anyway If he now reads negative lyrics about himself, he may think sometimes of Armin Hary, the once fastest man in the world and Olympic champion of Rome:

Even back then, Hary experienced what athletes are saying today under the heading of general suspicion. He was met with doubt, mistrust and rejection. Self-interest and arrogance were accused of Hary. Nevertheless, Hary is the last German and last European to hold the 100 Meter World Record.

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To be a boss is to communicate

Overview

If a person is not at the end of his career, but new in the role of the CEO, he usually has no time to grow slowly in his new job. A good communications chief can do many things, but the CEO, the strategy and the communication of a company must fit together in every way - also permanently.

For example, the book "The CEO Navigator" 5 tries to answer the question as to how a CEO and his or her environment can best respond to this challenge. The author Jan Hiesserich, an employee of Germany's most successful strategic communications consultancy Hering Schuppener, attempts to provide the clearest possible instructions, which - as is so often the case with counseling books - initially sound common sense - but in practice are anything but trivial.

After all, how many CEOs realize in the final analysis that they also have to define themselves in the function of a communicator and have to adjust this role to the strategy of their company?

Failure preprogrammed

Overview

The alternatives are early failure or greater business success, and associated better overall return on capital and equity. However, the latter succeeds only if the strategy suits the CEO and if the strategy can also communicate conclusively to all stakeholders.

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If, for example, the chief executive officer likes to play the role of a world banker or a tech-savvy engineer, but in fact a restructuring is required, the situation for both the Company as well as the boss awkward.

Requirements for modern CEOs

Overview

More than ever before, a CEO must certainly, more than ever, keep an eye on the socio-political consequences of acting on behalf of the company he manages, regardless of whether he has been brought in as a savior, innovator, or preserver.

In addition, the capital market also develops enormous demands on the CEO and his communication. The public perception of the person has a direct influence on the valuation of the company: Investment decisions are heavily influenced by the image investors have of the respective CEO. His profile in the media is crucial. He must succeed in relieving opposition, opening up room for maneuver through target group-oriented communication, and taking the stakeholders' interests seriously in their interests.

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