Daniel Hager: “Leadership is part of our strategic operational plan to achieve our ambitions”
Since becoming CEO in 2003, Daniel Hager has not only more than doubled the group's turnover in a slow growing industry (electrical installation manufacturing), but also dynamized its culture and prepared a traditional family business for tomorrow's challenges. In this exclusive interview with Leaders League, he reveals the ingredients of his success.
Leaders League. You led Hager Group to achieve immense success. What are the most important lessons you want to share with us?
Daniel Hager. First I need to say that I built on existing achievements and on what our past leaders had already accomplished. Hager Group has always been a successful business.
What is key for worldwide success and expanding an industry is certainly the ability to adapt to markets and local conditions. This is something that has always been in our focus and even more so today during these changing times.
We have also always managed to look in the future, see what comes next. Success is the result of forward planning. It is important to be ahead of your time. Sometimes you just need to try new things out, be courageous, and do this whether your project works out or not. This is how you make progress. Trying, testing, learning, improving, reinventing, etc.
How did you succeed in changing the management style of your company while respecting the company's values?
The management style of a company needs to adapt to its time. You have to be in tune with your times, your customers and also your workforce. The important thing in change is that values are still perceived. Our values are courage, authenticity and integrity. They would be interpreted differently depending on whether we are in the 50s, 80s or the 21st century, of course. Success is when you are in phase with your values, today and in 20 years’ time.
What advantages do French companies have when operating in the German market? More generally speaking, what advice do you have for international investors on this dynamic market?
The German market is a very attractive one yet also an extremely competitive one. You have to find your market and your customers and, in some way, you need to become local and adapt your brand value proposition according to local habits and cultural conditions. Being a French brand is associated with quite sophisticated and refined products in Germany, so you could build on this point in your communications. And you need local people who know the culture and how to adapt to the market.
What are the fundamentals of leadership? Is its importance to the success of an organization over or underestimated?
For me, leadership is fundamentally about the ability to think strategically, take initiatives, inspire and empower people and of course drive for results. At Hager Group leadership is part of our strategic operational plan to achieve our ambitions. To be successful in an increasingly complex environment we must be flexible and agile. As a consequence, decision making and empowerment is needed at every level. Our challenge is to successfully instil leadership behaviour throughout our organization, towards managers but also towards all levels of the hierarchy. Leadership is a key factor of success, it should never be underestimated.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d say; always follow your intuition and trust your inner voice. If it seems right it is right. Measure the affordable losses and then try out, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter: failing is a part of learning and always an advance.
Jeanne Yizhen Yin
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