Home Responsible Leaders How to define a Responsible Leader

How to define a Responsible Leader

written by Daniel Jakobson 21. May 2016
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Definitely not an easy task:  To open a forum like the 5th World Responsible Leaders Forum with more than 500 people from 70 countries around the world – all of them responsible leaders, experts on their fields, pursuing higher goals.  Three of the key figures of the BMW Foundation gave the opening speeches: Michael Schaefer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt; Joachim Milberg, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and Markus Hipp, Director, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. All three of them made their contribution to define responsible leadership from their perspective. (Please scroll down for the full speeches.)

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Michael Schaefer gave an revealing insight into Henri-Claude de Bettignies’ five dimensions of transforming a leader into a responsible leader.

1. Awareness
Awareness is necessary to overcome your own cultural background, to become aware of differences and to meet others as equals and with respect.

2. Vision
Leaders need to be brave enough to present new ideas. A leader willing to share her or his visions with others is taking the first step to lead to a better future.

3. Imagination
Transforming business and society requires creativity, courage and constant change of perspective. Thinking outside the box, interacting with different people, thinking in new unexpected dimensions are necessary to achieve solutions to complex problems.

4. Responsibility
Responsibility means leading by example, doing what you are expected to do, with empathy and compassion, driven by a clear set of ethical and legal principles.

5. Action
To Implement ideas, to change things for the better and to support people around you are essential for transformative processes. Each responsible leaders is an agent of change backed up by a network of like-minded people who support you.


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The second speech was given by Joachim Milberg. He approached responsible leadership from a temporal perspective. One of his main points: “The future needs the past“. By looking back, you recognize your roots, you reflect on your decisions and you realize what brought you to your here.

While remembering where you came from is an important factor of a responsible leader’s identity it is also vital to have faith. Innovation is always based on faith, because innovations are never for free and they are only accomplished by your own effort as a leader.

This is why it is so relevant to have a network like the Responsible Leaders network of the BMW Foundation. All of the strengths of empower each other and make it possible to achieve goals an individual would never have dreamt of.

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And last but not least it was Markus Hipp, Director of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt who gave an inspiring about the Responsible Leaders network. „Now friends, let me say, how good it is to see you again“, by quoting the German songwriter Hannes Wader, Markus Hipp talked about how to use the intellectual, professional and cultural diversity of the network to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.

He also pointed out that through the recent consolidation of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt Foundation and the Eberhard von Kuenheim Stiftung the foundation and the network have grown. Nevertheless it is essential to keep in mind that the goals remain the same.

And those goals can also be achieved by responsible leadership. One of the main goals is to take action and assume responsibility in the face of current and future challenges. A responsible leader should always try to tap the full potential while never forgetting to do the right thing.

You can find the full speeches here:

Michael Schaefer

Joachim Milberg

Markus Hipp