WHU’s Executive Education #2 in Germany
WHU among Germany’s best Executive Education program providers, placing #33 worldwide in the 2024 Financial Times ranking for Open Programs.Learn more!


Interview: 3 key capabilities of a good leader

Professor Dr. Jürgen Weigand is Academic Director WHU EMBA Program and the Center for Responsible Leadership at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Having worked as a senior advisor for various international blue-chip companies, he is an expert in business strategy and conveys the necessary skills and knowledge to become a good leader. In this interview, he points out the most important qualities of a good leader, the influence of digitalization on leadership, and more.

What are the most important qualities of a good leader?

“Transitioning into a leadership role means having three key capabilities: The will, the skill and the integrity to lead. This may sound challenging, but there are both a lot of leadership knowledge and tools that you can learn to develop your authentic leadership style. Additionally, mastering leadership requires of self-reflection and feedback from others.”

Does Digitalization influence the role of General Manager?

“Yes, definitely. Let me mention two: First, disruptive innovation may change the ‘game’ in your industry, so General Managers will have to think more and more about how to sustain competitive advantage. Second, ways and speed of communication with all stakeholder change, which means that GM need to constantly reflect upon leadership and communication style.”

Can General Management be learned?

“In my over 20 years of experience in designing MBA and lifelong learning programs, I have observed that three broad areas of knowledge and skills are highly relevant: a) Business acumen – the ability to understand the financial side of your business, b) Strategy – the ability to formulate and execute strategic initiatives in your team or business unit and c) Leadership – the ability to motivate and guide teams. All this can be learned!”

Become an outstanding leadership personality

Do you want to develop and strengthen your leadership skills? The Leadership Essentials Program provides you with useful tools and concepts that will help you become a stand-out leader who inspires those around him.


WHU ranked 45th in the Open Programs category

In the recently published Financial Times Executive Education Open Programs Ranking, the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management's Executive Education program ranks 45th in an international comparison.

Compared to the previous year, WHU was able to improve its ranking by 15 places. "We are very pleased that the high quality of our Executive Education program is again reflected in the Financial Times Ranking," explains Prof. Dr. Markus Rudolf, Rector of WHU. "It confirms our claim to offer outstanding continuing education for managers at an international level.

WHU bundles its continuing education offerings in the Executive Education area. The portfolio includes customized programs for individual companies, open programs for individual participants or small groups of companies, and the Certified-in-Programs, a continuing education option at MBA level. In the Open Programs, WHU currently offers seminars on digitization, entrepreneurship, finance, leadership, and negotiation strategies.

The FT Executive Education Ranking lists the 80 best international continuing education programs in the "Open Programs" category. They are ranked according to the quality of their teaching, the course structure, and the diversity of the participants. The evaluation includes information from the universities as well as surveys of program graduates.


Further education during career transition for executives

Whether they choose to or not, at one time or another, all executives will find themselves leaving their existing job and taking on a new professional challenge. Anyone leaving their old job and looking for a suitable executive role is suddenly faced with the prospect of examining their own personality and their professional capabilities, and asking the question: “where do I actually want to end up?”. However, the transitional phase between two jobs can and should be used for further personal and professional development.

Personal development and expanding your network

Long-time executives who deliberately decide to give up their current job and devote themselves to a new task tend to undergo a lot of self-reflection before handing in their notice. They have usually got to a stage where they realize they are no longer satisfied at their current company or are hampered in their further development. Conversely, if a termination is effected by the company, executives face a sudden need to reorient themselves.

In both cases it makes sense to use the time between jobs productively – not only to engage in personal development, but also to expand your own personal network. Both of these are useful exercises regardless of whether you have already landed your next job or are still looking for the right role.

These are the questions you should be asking when searching for the right role in senior management:

What is my untapped potential and how can I be sure to deploy it in future?

  1. How do I evaluate my own management style and how does this compare to my employees’ assessment of me? How can I get objective feedback about my management style?
  2. Which of my skills should I expand, which leadership gaps do I need to close in order to anticipate change processes and boost my personal performance (and that of my co-workers) across departments?
  3. Am I an executive who is equipped with the relevant skills for the age of digital transformation? How should I raise my profile?
  4. Is my management of my company up-to-date in terms of current development processes?

It is often difficult to answer these questions in detail and satisfactorily without external feedback. At the same time, executives should make the most of any professional transitional phases to confront these – sometimes uncomfortable – questions before they lose sight of them in the cut and thrust of everyday life.

As an executive between two jobs – use the time for personal development

One option that assists both personal (and professional) development as well as expanding one’s own network is further professional development. In particular, providers of “Executive Education” specialize in offering suitable professional development opportunities geared toward experienced executives. “Advanced” or “Executive” Management programs are less about acquiring more basic knowledge. Instead, these training courses provide a favorable framework that inspires self-reflection, where new ideas can be tested in a protected space, and that fosters an in-depth interaction on an equal footing with other participants to expand your own network. Additionally, executives naturally also benefit from updating their professional knowledge.

Most Executive Education courses for experienced executives are split into subject areas that focus on preparing you for top management roles or support you in performing such a role: for example transformation processes in companies, strategic challenges, or authentic management. Network expansion happens almost automatically because these intensive education programs are based on the “sparring” principle: tutors see themselves not only as learning partners on equal footing, but they also facilitate interaction and sparring between the participants.

Executive Program for Senior Professionals

A framework with the “sparring” principle is provided by the Advanced Management for Senior Professionals Program as part of the Executive Education offering at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. In two three-day sessions, participants from senior management are given the opportunity to reflect on their own perspectives and to develop new approaches for the challenges of the future.

Take a step out of everyday life: time for social responsibility

Sometimes it is time to leave old, well-trodden pathways behind and strike out in a new direction. This does not necessarily mean neglecting your professional goals or career, but it can breathe some new life into existing patterns and structures of thinking. As an executive, use the opportunity to take on some social responsibility. This can go hand-in-hand with personal (professional) development because there are Executive Education courses that unite the two. One example is the General Management Plus Program from WHU, which combines setting up a social business with true entrepreneurial spirit. Participants in this program refresh their knowledge in the field of General Management and at the same time develop their own business model in an emerging economy in Asia.

Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director WHU Executive Education

About the author

Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann is Managing Director of the Executive Education at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. With a total of over 15 years’ experience in management of higher education institutions, Rebecca has been supporting individual executives and entire organizations in the field of “Personal Development” for seven years, and she develops Executive Education programs.

About WHU Executive Education

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management is a privately financed, state-recognized business school with university status based in Düsseldorf and Vallendar. It was established in 1984 and today enjoys a strong reputation in Germany and abroad. WHU Executive Education offers first rate Executive Education programs for high potentials and executives at middle and senior management levels. Our portfolio contains tailor-made programs for companies, open programs (including Leadership, Advanced Management, General Management, Finance, Venture Capital) for individuals and small groups as well as conferences.


WHU Negotiations expert Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann comments on Brexit negotiations

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, the British Parliament voted against Theresa May´s deal to leave the European Union. Negotiation expert Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann comments on the current situation:

"While the news are dominated by the main protagonists at the negotiations table, Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker, the main complication lies in the many many many “back tables”. On the British side, it is of course the Brexiteers, different factions in May’s party and in parliament in general, Ireland, Scotland… But also on the EU side, one must always be aware that single countries who are playing with the idea of also leaving the EU watch the current case very closely. There are also elections for the EU parliament coming up in Spring. These elections will of course have huge national implications. Therefore, there are as many back tables as there are complicated technical/legal issues to be solved. It is probably the most difficult political negotiation during our time. Now, more than for any other negotiation two guiding principles should be followed: ´don’t judge too quickly` and ´never stop negotiating`."

January 18, 2018

Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann is Professor of International Business & Supply Management at WHU. He is an expert in negotiations and teaches in WHU's Negotiations Program for managers and executives.


Future of Finance: Official launch of CIMA Center at WHU Campus Düsseldorf

On December 5, 2018 the CIMA Center at WHU Campus Düsseldorf will be officially opened. The agenda includes a keynote by CIMA president Steve Swientozielskyj and a panel discussion on the future of finance with senior finance professionals.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s leading, largest professional body of management accountants, and the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC) of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management have decided to combine forces to promote and elevate competencies and profession of management accountants in Germany and to cooperate in the field of research, offering and delivering study programs, courses and events.

We cordially invite you to the official launch of the CIMA - Center at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. The event will take place on December 5, 2018 | 9.00-13.00 | WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, Campus Düsseldorf, Germany.

On December 5, 2018 the CIMA president Steve Swientozielskyj will give a keynote speech, we will moderate a panel discussion on the future of finance with senior finance professionals and officially launch the CIMA - Center at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf, a platform to meet, network and debate. This will also be a great opportunity to hear about plans for CIMA development in Germany.


8-9.00 – Small breakfast for early arrivals

9-9.10 – Welcome address:

Jakub Bejnarowicz, Associate Director, Europe, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
Prof. Dr. Utz Schäffer, Director, Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC)

9.10-10.25 – Keynote Speech:

Steve Swientozielskyj FCMA, CGMA, CIMA President
Dr. Nils Kaschner, CFO, AXA Deutschland
Wolfgang Zellerhoff, Head of Accounting & Controlling, Covestro AG

10.25-10.45 – Coffee break
10.45-12:10 – Moderated panel discussion: Competencies of the future and Q&A session:

Moderator: Jakub Bejnarowicz
Mark Benedickter, Senior Finance Director (IMO Projects), Konecranes
Tina Herud, Accounting Manager Germany, Luxoft
Dr. Nils Kaschner, CFO, AXA Deutschland
Prof. Dr. Utz Schäffer
Steve Swientozielskyj FCMA, CGMA, CIMA President
Wolfgang Zellerhoff, Covestro AG

12.10-12.25 – Ribbon cutting ceremony – CIMA Centre opening
12.25- 13.30 – Lunch