– Company and Culture
Leadership: "As much freedom as possible, as much support as necessary".
Change processes depend on the team
Responsibility and leadership competence have a lot to do with personal development and values. And the success of any profound change process depends on the active support of Management and the entire (leadership) team. In this interview, Miklós Hegybíró, Managing Director of IKOR Products, reveals what makes for value added leadership and how he manages his 30-strong international team.
– Fast Lane
In this article you will learn:
In 2019, IKOR adopted a matrix structure consisting of Specialist Departments and Project / Object based Groups. IKOR Products - an IKOR company and at the same time a "Specialist Department" - develops, implements, distributes and maintains software, so-called SAP add-ons. You lead the Product Department. How do you work across locations with your 30-strong teams in Hamburg and Essen?
Miklós Hegybíró: Our 2019 remote work rule - the time-honored formula of three days a week in the office or on-site at a customer project and two days remotely - has given way to a "decide on your own responsibility every week" rule in consultation with your manager. In practice, the ratio seems to be "three days remote, two days on site," but with very different characteristics in individual cases.
However, good leadership per se has little to do with remote work ...
Hegybíró: The important questions are rather: Is a manager interested in the success and personal development of the team and the individual colleagues? Do we sustainably link the goals of the company, the team and the individuals in such a way that the development directions align and incentives are positively reinforced? Do we really exemplify values such as trust, results orientation, inclusivity and mutual success? Have we strengthened professional responsibility or conversely, are we cynically comforting ourselves decorating our offices with hollow slogans?
What answers are you formulating?
Hegybíró: We need concrete techniques, procedures and processes from the agile repertoire. But the influence of a manager is also crucial. It's not for nothing that all the major surveys (editor's note: the current Gallup Report and a Personio study "The Great Shift in Values") - have been pointing out for years that 33% to 50% of all terminations are directly related to one's own, direct manager. According to the report, 90% of bosses believe employees quit because of compensation. However, this seems to be true for only 10% to 15% of voluntary terminations.
About Miklós Hegybíró
After studying business administration and economics in Bochum, DE, Miklós Hegybíró joined IKOR in 2010 as a Junior Consultant in the Product Team, then located in Oberhausen, DE. He was quickly appointed Team Leader and Deputy Division Manager. Since 2021, Hegybíró, a scion of a Hungarian family of entrepreneurs, has been managing the business of IKOR Products from Hamburg, DE. He is fluent in German, English and Hungarian – his native language.
How do you live leadership?
Hegybíró: I want to make the product business at IKOR more successful with each passing year. My colleagues know that too; we have clear goals. Our products have come to stay. I believe in that. Armed with such a credo enhances leadership. Without it, a manager quickly becomes a pawn in the game of circumstances.
What does that say about yours and IKOR's values?
Hegybíró: My own values are in line with the company values: At IKOR Products, we want to energize the IKOR brand through quality products and anchor it ever stronger in the market. In fact, we fundamentally value consistent quality over short-term success: delivering fast is not always better in the long run. We sometimes have to defend strategic orientations against resistance or readjust them. This balancing act is an ongoing source for decision-makers.
How closely are your values and your leadership style related?
Hegybíró: Very! However, I had to arrive at this realization first. What drives me in the process: How do people deal with responsibility and leadership? Not only management, but also disciplinary managers or product managers? What are the employees' "whys"? What values do we live together? Are we aware of our mutual values? Why do we do what we do? Why do we develop products? Why do we think they are good? And: What motivates me to live up to my responsibilities every day anew?
Why is the big why, "the reason why," so important to you?
Hegybíró: Because people are first and foremost seeking purpose and connection with their professional activity and personal development on the job. Only the answer to the "why" shows us why we work together as a team at IKOR Products and people feel loyal. We have a relatively low turnover rate, so our management must have done something right so far. While this is a meritorious snapshot of an important indicator, it's no reason to rest on our laurels: effective leadership certainly requires reflection and feedback. You have to make time for others, be willing to learn, listen and keep answering the question "Why?" and also "Why not?".
What are the roles of process, organization, practicality, and how do you "err" as a team moving forward?
Hegybíró: Process optimization and any reorganization always represent only one iteration. Is there a reasonable, practical basis to improve something? If so, I should question the established principles. We can only remain dynamic and flexible if we avoid declaring our collaboration model sacrosanct. This is much more important to me than simply writing "agility" on our banner. It keeps us on course.
What kind of boss are you? What do your employees say?
Hegybíró (grins): Managers are only human, too. We often wear different hats at the same time. There are different perspectives on whether I'm a good boss, manager or leader. From feedback and background discussions, I know that for some I'm almost a "hardliner" who aligns his actions with a rigid set of values. To others, I'm a "softie," considered empathetic, conflict averse, and also benevolent should mistakes happen. In truth, both descriptions reflect accurately.
How do you deal with feedback like that?
Hegybíró: You have to be able to accept different points of view, even criticism and not take everything personally. It helps to have good self-awareness and know your own strengths and weaknesses. Criticism, regardless of its severity, often comes from a particular angle or is based on particular interests. However justified criticism may be, managers must always take into account different, overlapping and often conflicting interests. If this is backed up by transparent, appreciative communication, the company will be well positioned even in stormy times.
What do you particularly appreciate your team for?
Hegybíró: For their courage, humanity and professional-technical competence.
How do you help your team achieve their goals?
Hegybíró: Ask the various teams and managers; I am nevertheless hopeful that I will choose the right management style or method depending on the situation. There are worlds between entrepreneurial leadership style and micromanagement, and both extremes are correspondingly rare. As a manager of managers, an important role for me is to exemplify my convictions: as much freedom as possible, as much personal support as necessary. Otherwise, I expect that goals and tasks are not only formulated "S.M.A.R.T. " (editor's note: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound - i.e. specific, measurable and achievable, realistic and within the time frame), but are also always accompanied by identification and appreciation.
Your best learning in leadership is?
Hegybíró: Our perception filters ensure that not everyone involved reaches the same understanding - not in one-to-one situations and certainly not in one-to-N situations. You can lead and communicate in different ways, all of which can be right and wrong at the same time, depending on the situation and perspective. And it's almost a law of nature: the subjunctive has never really helped in leadership communication. People appreciate confidence over uncertainty.
What was your biggest failure?
Hegybíró: I am in favor of promoting courageous, self-responsible action. At the same time, I don't want to equate error culture with error glorification. Therefore: I don't know what my "biggest failure" was. But the worst ones are certainly the repeated mistakes, even though you supposedly learned from them.
How does error culture play into the IKOR work culture?
Hegybíró: If we continue to provide an environment in which people like to take personal responsibility, grow with their tasks and link their personal why with the company's values, we will remain successful. Whether we call that "new work," "postmodern" or "avant-garde" is secondary to me.