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Leadership Fireside Chat with Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus

Presented by Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus, Annel Quevedo
Originally aired on 

This time Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus, will join us in our Munich office to talk more about her research in leadership development in the digital age, the management of research organizations, and diversity in organizations. In 2020, Prof. Peus was included in the list of "Germany's Most Inspiring Women ".

Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus

Claudia Peus has been Professor of Research and Science Management at the TU Munich since May 2011, Senior Vice President for Talent Management and Diversity since October 2017, and founding director of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning (TUM IL3) since December 2019. After completing her doctorate at LMU Munich, she worked as a Visiting Scholar at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University.

In her research, Prof. Peus focuses on leadership and leadership development in the digital age, the management of research organizations, and diversity in organizations. She is a member of various advisory boards, such as the management board of RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research , the board of trustees of the "Wertekommission “ and the Max Planck Institute for Physics , and advises organizations from business and science on topics such as leadership, diversity, and talent management. In 2020, Prof. Peus was included in the list of "Germany's Most Inspiring Women ".


Transcript (Beta)

Hi everybody and thank you for joining us today in our event Successful Women in EMEA.

We have a great audience today in the office and also many colleagues watching online from different offices worldwide, from Europe to US, Latin America and Asia Pacific.

My name is Annel Quevedo and I am the lead for Women in Sales in EMEA.

In our previous five side chats, I had the privilege of engaging with accomplished women across diverse fields such as management, sales, engineering and public sector.

This time we presented another example, a woman emerging from a different frontier, immersing herself in the realms of research and professorship, specifically in subjects like leadership, diversity and talent management.

Once again, this serves as a testament to the profound impact that women can wield This time, the stage is academia.

Here, young students have the privilege of first-hand exposure to leadership research, the profound significance of diversity and the skills and personal attributes required for an always evolving landscape.

I can personally attest this, as I once stood among those students, gazing in admiration and astonishment in one of Professor Poi's leadership lectures.

It was not only the knowledge she shared that captivated me, but the enthusiasm and sense of purpose that she radiated.

An emotion that you can feel only when you are in front of somebody who is passionate and committed to what she does.

So let this five side chat be a dedication to all teachers who share their knowledge in academia.

I personally believe that planting seeds of curiosity within the students is one of the primary tasks of professors and teachers within academia.

And for me, this professor, sparking this curiosity during my academic period, was Claudia Pois.

Professor Dr. Claudia Pois, for all of you who don't know about her, Claudia has been Professor of Research and Science Management at the Technical University of Munich, Senior Vice President for Talent Management and Diversity, and Founding Director of the TUM Institute for Lifelong Learning.

After completing her doctorate from Munich, one of the biggest universities also in Germany, she worked as a visiting scholar at MIT and as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.

In her research, Claudia focuses on leadership development in the digital age.

She is a member of various advisory boards, and in 2020, Professor Pois was included in the list of Germany's most inspiring women.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Professor Dr.

Claudia Pois. So, let's start.

You have built an impressive professional career, marked by numerous accomplishments.

Will you tell us who Claudia is behind these achievements? First of all, thank you so much for having me.

I feel honoured and a little bit humbled after that introduction.

It's a pleasure to be here. As you alluded to, I never had a career plan.

I never had a plan of who I wanted to be.

I actually never really knew who I was going to be in my professional career. Unlike many of my colleagues, who always knew they were going to be professors, I never knew that, probably until five days before I became one.

But I was always passionate about topics like leadership, trying to better understand what makes up good leadership, also what makes up terrible leadership, how it can be prevented, how it can be counteracted.

And I also always had the mission to try and do a standard in the academic sense, but I also wanted to make it relevant to the real world, to engage with people like you guys, who really make decisions on a daily basis in the real world, so to speak, and to try to facilitate better leadership.

So, that's kind of been my guiding star, not a plan, but a content mission, something that I was passionate about and still am, as people call it now.

And, unlikely, I had a wonderful mentor, who I will probably speak about later on, who helped me with that, and I have a wonderful family who also supports me, and, otherwise, I couldn't be here right now.

One of the things that you mentioned is this passion for these kind of topics, but what is exactly this source of inspiration that has driven you to focus your efforts in these topics, like leadership, diversity, and talent management?

I think leadership, it didn't occur to me at the time, but thinking about it now, I think several experiences while I was a student.

Again, I didn't really know what I was going to be, what kind of career I was going to have, so I did a ton of internships in very different areas to try to find out what I wanted to do, what I can do.

And, two internships, both of them were abroad, and both of them were, I think, at the end of the day, sparked my passion for leadership.

The first one, at a very renowned German company, at that time, very prestigious, and, to be honest, my friends kind of envied me for that internship.

They said, wow, that was a beautiful building, nice company, look at that.

And, in short, I hated every second as they started with me going there, you know, being very motivated, and they just said, and what are you?

And, the internship went on like that, and it just felt terrible.

No one would share any information, no one would believe me in anything.

People were very unhappy, very, I think, no trust, et cetera, et cetera.

And, later on, there was a bit of a, I don't want to say scandal, but certain issues came up, regardless of leadership.

So, a couple of weeks later, they found me an internship.

This is in Australia in a coal mine, a coal mine, dirty, actually a little bit dangerous, in a very, very male -dominated environment.

My friends said to me, don't go, terrible idea. I went, and, ironically, opposite experience.

The people were super welcoming, and even the production superintendent, who was two meters tall, big, big guy, former rugby player, I couldn't believe it, but he asked me for advice.

And, at first, I couldn't say anything because, you know, I was intimidated, but he kept on asking, and I tried to tell him, so, in short, what I've learned is the effects of good and bad leadership and how they can, you know, really inspire you, make you grow, as opposed to stagnate, et cetera.

And, I think that it is absolutely a turning moment, and this is what I try to better understand, or I'm trying to better understand.

Thank you. Great. Thank you for sharing this. And, now that you've started with your part of your professional life, I actually would like to continue with your professional journey and research.

So, Thalia, your research has highlighted the importance of diversity in tech organizations.

In fact, in one of the interviews that you had with DECIDE, you talked about collective intelligence.

How can women in tech leverage their unique perspectives and experiences to drive innovation and positively impact their teams and products?

Thank you. Yes, I think that's a very, very interesting research paper on collective intelligence.

By the way, it was published in Science for Management kind of research, and it showed that the teams that had the highest collective intelligence, that is, were able to solve all sorts of problems, were diverse teams.

And what was obviously very important is that people would listen to each other, let each other speak, and not pretend to listen, but actually listen and build on each other's comments.

And I don't want to go into stereotypes. Sometimes people would say that's more stereotypically male than female.

I don't even want to comment on that.

But I think what's really crucial is for any organization to create this environment, this safe space, this psychological safety that everyone and anyone can speak up and is truly being heard.

Not, you know, okay, I heard you, but now we'll do what I think anyway.

And by the way, this is an experience I had while in the U.S.

at MIT and Harvard, that even the most intimidating professor, intimidating because like world-renowned, and in this case, super tall, very loud, would be able to create an environment of psychological safety and really challenge everyone to think and ask individually.

And I think that's something for all of us to take away, because only then does diversity actually really have an impact.

If people sit there and they're not really being heard, well, how far are we going to go?

And there are for sure also many other topics in your research that we can apply nowadays.

But I would also like to highlight another topic that you research, which is resilience.

And resilience is a crucial trait for success in any field. It's not just in tech.

So based on your findings, what are some practical resilience building techniques that women can implement to overcome setbacks and challenges while maintaining a strong focus on their goals?

Well, we have all learned how important resilience is, right?

Not least during the pandemic. So the research, and you're probably alluding to a study I did on success factors for women managers.

And we got data from Germany, United States, India, Singapore, and China.

By the way, it's published. So if anyone is interested, we're happy to distribute that.

And that research showed the importance of role models, the importance of mentors, the importance of, as one of the managers who was interviewed said, find some sort of passion for yourself and then work really hard towards, you know, making that passion come alive.

But don't, one of them said, don't be pushed into accepting any role because just based on money or status or title, because in the longterm, that's not going to solve it.

So in order to become resilient, find, you know, people who inspire you, find an environment that coming back to the psychological safety that allows you to unfold your potential and then find your sources of power, of energy, right?

And it's different things for different people.

It could be sports, it could be, I don't know, meditation, it could be arts, it could be whatever it is, but everyone of us can and should find out what it is.

And another topic, this is actually a woman in sales or in tech talk, but I think at the end of the day, we all share our interest in this kind of topics.

But specifically talking in a male-dominated environment, we have the imposter syndrome that can be a significant challenge for women.

What strategies have you discovered in your research to overcome self-doubt and build the confidence necessary to thrive in such settings?

Yeah, imposter syndrome is one thing that's been talked about quite a bit, not only, you know, applying to women, but many other people.

Also, there's evidence showing that especially first-generation academics have an issue with that topic more than people from, you know, whose parents also have academic backgrounds, et cetera, et cetera.

What's important is two things. On the one hand, yes, the mentors and the psychological support, et cetera.

But on the other hand, and it's also something that really clearly emerged in our research is, at the end of the day, become really, really good at something, you know.

Honestly, I think sometimes that gets overlooked. I hear that from the PhD candidates in my team.

And, you know, I mean, it's good that there's a lot of support now and a lot of workshops, et cetera.

But I remember one of them approached me.

She's very, very smart, very good scientist. And she said, you know, and then I'm being told I have to do the networking and go to the conference and network with the important people and I have to do all of that, but that's not me.

And do I have to do that now? And I said to her, to me, it's most important that at this stage in your career, you prove that you're really excellent at research.

And that is in our case, and it's probably totally different things in your case.

But in our case, it's coming up with a really good publication. And if you've done that, then you go to conferences and socialize.

So I think sometimes, or there's a certain danger, I think, especially for women maybe, you know, be investing in all that, trying to be a great presenter, blah, blah, blah.

But at the end of the day, you have to become really good at something.

And that differs, obviously, in the career tracks.

And after doing all of this research and all the knowledge that you have gathered during all these years, and now as a successful woman and advocate, for sure you must have faced challenges on your journey.

Can you share a pivotal moment or experience that shaped your career and approach to leadership?

Before we talk about challenges, I'm happy to do so.

I alluded to that before. I had an amazing mentor.

My PhD advisor was amazing and is amazing in many respects. But he has become a mentor on all different dimensions.

That is giving me feedback, giving me advice, letting me make mistakes and tolerating them and helping me grow.

And also because he's an excellent scientist. Without him, I would have never even thought of becoming a professor.

One day he said in front of other people that I should become a professor.

And I thought, literally, I was totally confused.

I had never thought of that. I'm like, what's he talking about? So maybe that did shape my career.

And in terms of challenges, I'll be very honest. I mean, I think looking back, a lot of the times, life seems so clear, so linear.

But while you live it, it really doesn't, right?

And there's a long time after I was a postdoc in the U.S., I returned to Germany after long, long discussions if we should stay in the U.S.

or not. And I was saying we because my partner was also in the U.S.

and then we took what I think was the turning moment, probably in my career. He stayed in the U.S.

and it was clear he was going to stay there for a couple of years.

I had the option to stay and I chose for Germany. I think that was kind of the breaking point.

I was, I think, 30 at that stage. Honestly, in my environment, a lot of people said, why don't you stay with him and have kids?

And that's fine for many people.

For me, it would not have been fine. But it was tough.

I mean, we had a long distance relationship for three and a half years. Long distance meaning Boston, Munich.

That's long distance, right? And that was not only fun.

I'm not saying that everyone should do it this way. I'm just saying this is how it worked for me.

And you don't usually see that on CVs or anything. So, yeah, that would have been, I think, a classical moment to not vote in terms of my career.

But both of us were totally agreeing that this case, my former PhD advisor wrote me an email, come back to Munich because we have this job opportunity.

And I thought, that's my dream job. I have to do it. Luckily, my partner said the same.

So, yeah. And now we have you here. Great for sharing. And not only the challenges that you had, but also the opportunities, like the opportunity that you had to come back here to Germany.

So, yes, the moment. So, as a leader and advocate for gender and diversity, now which advice will you give to women in tech on effectively navigating now this career advancement opportunities and negotiating for equal opportunities and recognition?

Well, first of all, I want to say the times are amazing, right?

I mean, you have more opportunities out there than probably any generation before us.

So that's wonderful. And then I think, again, it's important to have a mentor or ideally more than one.

Try to find them. It's not coincidence, right?

The amazing mentor I spoke about before, I had not known him as a person.

I had only known him as a publication. And then I did everything to try to meet him and convince him that I could work for him.

So find mentors, find role models, become really good at something and be really, or maybe different, first order, find out what you're really passionate about and then become really, really good at something so that whatever it is, you are the expert for whatever.

And then I think it's going to be much easier to make the case why it should be you in this position, in this role, et cetera.

And maybe finally do find an environment that lets you grow.

And my impression is obviously that that's the case here.

But I mean, as I said before, I have experienced and seen environments before that I found totally stifling.

And I think it's too much of an uphill battle for any individual to try to fight that.

So find the environment and yeah, use it when you can.

Thank you. So during your professional career, you have a lot of achievements.

And also in your book, Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts, you explore leadership in challenging situations.

Could you share one of the most compelling stories or examples from the book that illustrates a unique leadership lesson and its broader applicability in various contexts?

What I say now, the chapter in that book that is, let's put it that way, stuck to my mind the most is one that's somewhat unusual.

It's leadership in Al-Qaeda. So when I speak about that, I will try to obviously not speak about ethical implications, et cetera, but I think it is very interesting to learn.

And by the way, obviously I didn't write the chapter, but someone who really knows is very interesting because obviously there is no formal organizational structure.

There's no incentive system, right?

There's no great pay system, et cetera, et cetera. And the question is, how can a leader still get people to be motivated to dedicate them to his cause?

And again, I'm trying to be abstract. I think it's very interesting because it shows that a lot of what other researchers, including Jo and I from Harvard would call soft power, not the formal reward power.

You can't promote someone.

You can't pay a bonus or any of that sort, but rather the soft power is also in line with our research on transformational leadership.

So you have a vision.

You are super passionate about the vision. You make self-sacrifice. You live towards it, et cetera, et cetera.

So that's one thing that that chapter is interesting because it's from a very, not the context you expect.

Let's put it that way.

So besides that book, you also collaborated with other books like Ethics and Economic Success, Personal Selection in Academia, Leadership Style Assessment, and many publications in international journals.

So out of all the books and publications, what are some of the most significant insights or key takeaways?

That's a tough one.

Okay, one thing, maybe that's good news. In the leadership literature until recently, there was a debate about authentic leadership and women.

So in other words, are women allowed to be more authentic as leaders? Because in a sense, they're the unusual ones anyway.

Or on the other hand, can they not be authentic at all?

Because the leadership stereotype, the stereotype of a manager is still male dominated.

And by the way, that's also some research we did. The stereotypes are still think manager, think male.

So there was this debate and we did a number of research projects on that.

And the good news is, what we saw is that actually in that case, the stereotypes of an authentic leader and a female leader are much more in common.

And we did that research also trying to assess, how do I say, quick reaction.

So for example, we measured reaction times. So not stuff that you think about and then you think about what's the politically correct answer kind of thing, but stuff like, we measure in milliseconds how the matching of attributes of women and authentic leaders are in line, et cetera, et cetera.

So in short, I think that's great news. So there's no one size fits all, that's one thing.

Another thing that right now, I'm trying to convey a lot in this world where like almost anything is possible in terms of technologies.

I mean, you know better than I do.

It's amazing what's possible, but even more, I am convinced, or especially now leaders need some sort of guidance, right?

And I think they need their values to be their guiding system, not as a navigation system that tells you, turn right here, but sort of like a compass that helps you orient yourself, especially when it's tough and especially when you're lost.

So I do think that's super important for leaders to develop that system, to challenge themselves, to rethink it, to have others challenge them.

Is this still your values? And especially in terms of value conflicts, we are going to publish a study in a couple of weeks on the value conflicts that managers experience because the world is not so easy, right?

So you have to understand, I think what's most important to you and you'll always pay a price for that.

But I think that's an important aspect to be very deliberate on your values and try to live them.

And that's going to be helpful because it helps you steer all the different opportunities.

I think that's another really important one. And finally, are we women in tech?

Obviously, we've done a series of studies that actually caught a lot of media attention because we saw that the way a job ad is designed and designed, I mean, either the words that are used, the attributes and or the pictures has a profound impact on the applicants.

In other words, we took original job ads and showed that if they're male-stereotyped, which by the way, more than 70% of the leadership ads that we analyzed were, women don't apply.

Not because I say I can't succeed there, they say I do not belong there and therefore I don't want to be there.

And we've done tons of studies also with experiments, with real world data, also from scholarship organizations, et cetera.

So same job, same requirements, but sort of stereotypically male framing and you don't have the women applicants.

And I'm saying that because I think that's one thing that's super easy to change to try to attract a more diverse workforce.

Thank you for that.

So now let's get a little bit personal. So among all this research and findings and lessons that you had in your professional life, which one has had the greatest impact on your personal and professional life?

My research findings on my life, that's tough. Well, in terms of the process, I can say that the study I did on the success factors for women managers in Germany, US and then later on India, Singapore, China, the process obviously was super influenced because I got to interview all these amazing women having just done my doctorate and they shared their career advice.

So I think that did have an impact because again, I said things like have passion for what you do, find out what you're really about.

They also spoke about a lot of challenges, some of which actually shocked me.

I mean, they told stories that, wow, I didn't think would happen.

And it was amazing to see, despite all these obstacles, I mean, these women found their way and across the globe.

I mean, some of the obstacles, some of the stories, for example, women in India told, wow, I can only, you know, I was very impressed and humbled and thankful for the opportunities in life that I've been given.

For sure, it was super interesting to interview all these women and all the learnings, as you said.

So now also based on your achievements again, so you were recognized as one of Germany's most inspiring woman in 2020, which I can imagine is a tremendous honor.

Could you share with us the personal impact of this recognition on your journey and how it has influenced your commitment to empowering and motivating women in the tech industry?

I always feel a little humbled when I hear that because, I mean, there are a lot of amazing women on, you know, I got to know some of them.

We did an event once and I was quite amazed. I think we have to be careful sometimes with, you know, awards and et cetera, et cetera.

And I'll say that only with regard to my research, right? Because about a person that's different, I mean, it's hard to comment about yourself.

With my research, I can only say that I'm very surprised.

I mean, there are some papers that I think are amazing and they're not necessarily the ones that got the best papers awards or the best prizes or even were cited the most.

So I think it's, yeah, we have to sometimes be careful, right?

It's people making decisions and et cetera, et cetera.

So maybe one quote that I took away from, again, my PhD advisor, he always said, you know, be respectful for and to people, don't be in awe in terms of hierarchies.

And I think that's a very, very good comment. And I think I've always tried to live by that.

And also not, you know, don't, sometimes you're in a position where you have a formal title, don't think it's about you, you know?

Thank you so much for sharing.

And also now to wrap up with a final question before I open up the conversations to the audience.

So in light of your research, what can young business professionals, men and women, do to become better leaders of tomorrow in a constantly evolving tech landscape?

Yeah, as I said before, I think it's, okay, so maybe three points.

One thing I think it's really important to have a better understanding how humans work.

I think a lot of the times we don't really know what motivates others, what drives others, et cetera.

So find that out and try to really recognize that and be mindful when interacting with people.

Number one, number two, I think, I mean, the technology is evolving so quickly.

It's amazing.

I think leaders of today and tomorrow, especially have to have an understanding of what the technological possibilities are and how these are going to impact the business.

That doesn't mean you have to be a super, you know, an expert in everything.

Obviously that's impossible, but I think you have to understand what are the big, the big ones.

I mean, obviously AI is one, but it's probably also quantum technology.

It might also be bioengineering, et cetera. I mean, World Economic Forum, for example, has a list each year.

I think it's important to know at least roughly what's going on out there and how is that going to impact A, my business and B, society at large.

I mean, looking at AI, for example, that's something I think as a society, we need to work on much more.

And maybe you're doing that here.

I don't know, but that's a big one, obviously. And third and not last, probably most important, as I said before, values.

You find out what your values are. And I think find that out by letting yourself get challenged by, you know, taking on assignments that maybe you think they are too big for you by working with diverse people.

So challenging yourself or letting yourself get stretched out of your comfort zone, because that helps you understand your values.

I think that that's very important to always go out of your comfort zone to achieve success personally and professionally, which brings me also to my last question.

What success means to you?

That's a good question. I think, and again, the bridge to the interviews I mentioned before, success means to me, it's probably most important that my work inspires others and enables others to, in my case, become better leaders and also hopefully good scientists.

So that's very important to me, but ideally, yeah, I can inspire and motivate people at all different levels, but also help them not only inspiration, but really have some skills they bring to the table.

And yes, I mean, when my kids and my husband are happy and healthy, that's all I can ask for.

I'm super happy. Yeah. And that's all I can handle at this stage.

Thank you so much for sharing with us. And now I would like to open the discussion to the audience here and also our colleagues watching remotely and from other offices.

So I'll pass the microphone. There's another microphone. Okay.

I have a question. Maybe going back to the studies you mentioned that you did globally or like across different countries, I would be interested in some more findings about that because, I mean, we discussed what success factors are for women to make a great career.

It's leadership, mentors, support, of course, but also structures that are in place like regulations and political regulations.

And like, we all know that how big the impact of like childcare systems are on women being successful.

Things like the quota make a big difference. Maybe looking at the international studies you did and maybe looking at the situation in Germany, like what do you think is it that we are lacking here for, for more equal opportunities really?

Thank you for the question. Yeah, very good. I mean, in the study we, at the end of the day, we came up with factors that are true across all different countries and then some countries specific ones.

And as you rightly alluded to in Germany, what shocked me at the time and kind of still does right now, there were a lot of 80% of the women managers I interviewed there did not have kids.

And they said, it's a deliberate success factor to not have kids.

That shocked me back then. And kind of still does. As I said before, I do have kids, but I think the whole country needs a better system here.

it's tough. I mean, we are lacking daycare.

If you try to organize it yourself, it's super expensive, et cetera.

So I think many other countries, you know, looking at France, looking at Netherlands, looking at the U.S.

they're much better than that. So we, we have to do something.

And in my role at TUM, as vice president, and I'm trying to change that, but it's not easy, obviously.

Stereotypes, again, the stereotype of the Rabenmutter, so you are the bad mother if you work, that's a German stereotype.

And it's, to me, it's super helpful to be in the U.S. and try to explain to them and they're all, what are you talking about?

They didn't even understand the problem.

That was very helpful. So maybe, you know, sometimes here also kind of getting or comparing yourself to, non-German women helps, because I don't even see the problem.

I thought that was very good. Yep. Yeah. And I mean, one thing is the, the different mindset, which of course differs a lot, like if we're comparing the U.S.

and Germany, for instance, but then we have like such different systems, like statutory leave systems.

And probably, I mean, the recent changes about parental leave and the allowances people will get if they go on parental leave.

I mean, that has been, like a crazy change in Germany. However, I mean, the support system there is in the U.S.

for taking parental leave is, is a lot like worse than it is here.

And still like these stereotypes are very different.

And I know, do you think that we need like this statutory system of leave and parental leave allowance?

Or like, how do you think about that change that's recently happened?

It's an important aspect you're alluding to. We actually have that in the paper and I didn't want, like it emerged.

I had never planned to write about this, that a lot of the stuff that Germany does backfires because you can go on parental leave for so long that, and there's unfortunately, again, research on that, that, you know, some companies are reluctant to hire young women because I think maybe it's about time.

Right. And then again, and there's tons of evidence, by the way, still now, and that drives me crazy.

Obviously there's huge debates now about shortage of skilled labor.

And I can tell you, I don't know so many examples of highly, highly qualified women, mostly women, engineers who would like to work more and they're not given the opportunity also by the organization.

Right. Because, you know, part-time leadership, that's impossible. Right.

By the way, I find that totally absurd. I mean, who defines what full-time is?

In some countries, it's 40 hours, sometimes 42, sometimes 30. I mean, that's totally random.

I think the good news, shortage of skilled labor, you can negotiate.

And I think you can negotiate much more now than even five years ago. So feel empowered, demand what you need.

And obviously this applies to men as well as to women.

I mean, same. I think, you know, any men who gets, you know, looked down upon for taking parental leave, I mean, there's something wrong with the organization.

So the good thing is. Well, it's up for negotiation. Yeah, you can negotiate.

Thank you. So let's think about a scenario.

Imagine like I'm the CEO of a company and my direct reports.

So the executives, they know what they're doing and they're aligned with the company vision.

They're motivated. And the bigger the company gets, the more managers are higher.

And I feel like that these managers are kind of getting political, maybe a little bit disaligned with what I want to do with the company.

How can you identify this as maybe a misalignment of the overall company goal?

How can you avoid politics? How can you identify what bad leadership is and replace it with good leadership?

What are some, I think it's a very complex questions, but maybe you have some ideas.

First of all, I think that's a great question.

I think, or put it different. Again, we have done research on a phenomenon that's called knowledge hiding.

So you have knowledge, your colleague asks you and you try to hide it.

And by the way, I could tell you all the different strategies people use, et cetera, et cetera.

And we showed that contrary to previous research, which said it's logically because, I mean, you are a bad person or you're selfish.

The predictors are much more at the organizational level. That is one system that I think many organizations get wrong is incentive systems.

So for example, a lot of the times, hopefully they don't do it like that here.

I hear we encourage teamwork and then within the team, people get curved against each other, right?

And then if Christian is better than his colleagues, he gets all the bones, the others don't.

That's a good way to destroy teamwork and to increase knowledge hiding.

So I would be very careful with the incentive systems.

I would try to have a, coming back to the psychological safety, to really have a culture of psychological safety in which, you know, people do speak up.

And if for, in your example, you're the CEO, everyone tells you everything's great in the organization.

We're super happy. No, it's all going great. I'm not sure people are really speaking up.

So I would deliberately ask, by the way, in the US, I was at the workshop, which I thought was super open.

I thought it was finished. And then the leader said, what are you not saying?

And I was amazed how people then opened up again.

And it was a whole different level. And again, if no one says anything, I would be a little skeptical here.

Another thing I think is, yeah. What are performance metrics?

Is there any way to have anything meaningful, you know, be it quantifiable, be it peer feedback or anything like that.

But if it's just convincing you, I think there's a certain danger that everyone's going to be political and try to impress you.

Who should influence the incentive system? Is it the leader or is it the...

I think, I think at the end of the day, the leader is responsible for obviously the big vision, the big mission, the big, you know, what do we stand for?

And then he or she has to find out what's the best way to get there. And I think he or she should probably come up with a suggestion, but then get feedback from other people because he or she is never going to know everything.

Thank you.

Thanks for being here. So my question would be when you speak about achieving a top level in something, being really good at something, how do you measure that?

How do you define that? Because you still always keep seeking to improve anyway, right?

But how do you feel? How do you check a box where you say, now I'm good at something really good.

And that's a great question. I mean, I think as a leader or probably also professional in other ways, you're never done, right?

I mean, there's probably never the day that, oh, okay, I'm done now.

And by the way, my MIT professor at the age of 85, she told me how she's now starting longitudinal studies.

I'm like, wow. You know, I never, no one found that strange here.

It wouldn't even be possible because the university would have kicked her out 10 years before, actually 20 years before.

So that very much depends on the business.

I mean, in research, you kind of, we have a lot of metrics, right? I mean, you can, in two seconds, you can find out how much I publish, how much each paper got cited, stuff like that.

It's very easy. And your kind of function is probably a bit different.

I think a lot of peer feedback is important. At the end of the day.

Yeah. Ask yourself the question, what do I want to be known for five years from now, 10 years from now?

And then maybe you have colleagues and friends who openly give you feedback on where you are with regard to that.

I think that could be very helpful.

Cool. Thanks. Forgot a second one. How do the goals we're talking about, like the orientation goals and like a compass, differ between male and female usually?

If at all.

Yeah, that's a very good, I'm thinking, because there are very different value models out there that are being discussed.

A question I can answer better empirically is, okay, so this is complicated because again, very different value models are out there.

I'm simplifying now when I say. Or some research indicates that men tend to have a more independent self-concept.

So, you know, I'm on my own proving myself on my own finding my way kind of is important as opposed to women have a more interdependent self-concept, right?

So more team orientation, coming back to the collective intelligence, et cetera.

So I think, yeah, I think that comment is fair to say based on complex research.

Thank you.

Annel said, never again, private. So how frequently do you change your goals? My goals?

Well, I can tell you what the process I have in my group. Each year we do a strategy retreat in which I try to tell them what I think, where are we going in terms of research?

And I could probably map that over time, but the focus areas have always changed a bit.

The big topic leadership has always stayed right now. For example, we're doing more stuff on guess what?

AI stuff. Like what do you expect from non-human team members or robot leadership?

We didn't do that 10 years ago.

so I'm, I'm trying to, you know, I try to give them what I think, where we should go.

And then we discuss it in the strategy retreat. So, yeah. So we, we, we adapt those goals.

Excuse me. Maybe I'll rephrase. So your personal goals, as your orientation, not the business wise.

Okay. Well, looking back for a certain period of time, the academic career is very, in a sense, narrowly defined because, well, at least in Germany, that's more flexibility in other countries.

But in Germany, if you do not get a tenure professorship until sort of early forties, I hate to say it, you're kind of out of the game and this is bad, but it's the way it is.

Okay. So you, you know, you have a kind of window of opportunity and either in that window, you make it in terms of publications, mostly publications, teaching is important, but mostly.

And, and you probably do full speed on, on publications, et cetera, because again, in the U S there's a lot of debate on pre-tenure and post-tenure.

So your goals dramatically change post -tenure.

For me, that was only true to some degree, because as I said before, I never knew I was going to be a professor.

So I didn't have the, you know, the very strategic approach.

I did probably adapt my goals somewhat when I had my first kid and then my second kid.

Well, I mean, they're so important in my life and also they made me much more realistic about what I, at this stage right now can do and cannot do.

Some, some things are there and hopefully I'll get to them at some stage, but not right now.

Thank you so much. So we just have a question in chat from Lucas.

I read an interview in which you discussed differences between U S and German science, stumbling blocks for women in their careers and subjective happiness.

Personal happiness is among other things, also the choice of the right partner.

As you rightly say there, I'm interested in the extent to which the personal happiness of applicants flow into personal management and recruiting.

What experience do you have with this? So, so let me make sure I understand the question to what degree the personal happiness you have as a person is conveyed in your professional life in terms of recruiting, et cetera.

Is that right?

Okay. I probably have to rely on anecdotal evidence here.

I don't have research on that.

I mean, you probably agree, right? It seems to me that working with people who are happy is much more fun and much easier than working for people who are unhappy.

I do have to say, maybe interesting remark. One of my professors, when I was a student and I never thought I could become one of them, he said, be thankful for all the neurosis you have because they give you all the energy.

I think there's a lot of truth to that.

Maybe understanding where some of your energy comes from is also good, but yeah, being happy and working with happy people, I think is fun.

So do you think it's the responsibility of a leader to make team happen?

Oh, that's a very important point. I don't think it's the responsibility of the leader to make sure everyone is happy at all times.

And by the way, we've had some interesting discussions because at the end of the day, as a leader, you're also responsible and you are responsible for the whole team, right?

Or the whole, depending on their job, right?

Or the whole organization. And in order to make sure that, you know, it achieves the vision or the mission you defined, people are going, some people are going to be unhappy, at least for a certain degree of time.

And that's okay. And as a leader, you're going to have to bear that, but you have to have a good explanation as to why.

I mean, it can't be random. You shouldn't randomly make people unhappy.

But also don't get me wrong. Performance expectations might be very high.

And if people don't meet them and you tell them that they're not going to be happy in the first place, but maybe it's your responsibility also to help people grow, which might be to, you know, challenge them beyond what they thought is possible.

Maybe 10 years later or five years later, they'll be amazed at what they achieved and they'll be thankful and happy, but maybe not in the second you told them.

Thank you. Thank you very much. So before we end this fireside chat, I would like to give you, or we will like to give you this from Cloudflare for women in sales, women flair, and also from the Munich Cloudflare office, from the team here today.

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, your wisdom and all your experience through all these years and your research with us.

And also thank you so much to the audience here in our office, our Munich office, and also our colleagues watching remotely or from one of our offices worldwide.

Thank you so much and see you next time in our next women in sales.

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This month, the most read and fastest trending stories from the net were Number one, regain control of complex network environments.

In this article, CSO Grant Borzykus discusses how the disappearance of the network edge, increasing user expectations, the expanding attack surface, and the sophistication of threats means enterprises must operate in domains they no longer exercise control over.

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