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"Choose Your Battles Wisely, Fight the Most Important Ones and Let the Rest Go"

Gerd Hoefner, MD and President, Siemens Healthineers India
twitter-logoPB Jayakumar | Print Edition: August 9, 2020
Gerd Hoefner, MD and President, Siemens Healthineers India

Q: What was the problem you were grappling with?

A: In 1999, I was establishing the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) business for Siemens automation technology division. Since this was the first time the division was venturing into a software business, we acquired a company in England to accelerate growth. I was appointed to its board. In those days, if I believed in something, I would try to convince and persuade others. But this did not go down well with the leadership team.

Q: Who did you approach and why?

A: I approached Heinz-Jurgen Muller, the then CFO of the Business Unit at Siemens.

Q: What was the best advice you ever received?

A: He told me to try and not fight every battle. Choose your battles wisely, fight the most important ones, and let the rest go. He advised me to hold myself back and let them make their own decisions. While it seems natural to tell others what they should do, sometimes it takes a lot of effort to step back and let others make choices. It helped me recognise that good leaders are not just good decision-makers, they also listen better and encourage others to lead.

Q: How effective was it in resolving your problem?

A: This advice made me a better professional and a more understanding person. Since then, I have encouraged my team to make its own decisions and allow mistakes to happen. However, when required, I coach them in thinking through their decision-making process.

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