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Leadership Forum

2022 // Virtual Collaboration & Diversity

23./24. Juni, SCHOTT AG, Mainz



On June 23 / 24, the Leadership Forum 2022 took place in Mainz. Two days full of exciting presentations and discussions. A big thank you to SCHOTT for the invitation!

Virtual Collaboration & Empathic Leadership 

Collaboration and leadership have become more flexible in the new virtual world, but also more challenging. Often the personal, direct conversation that creates trust is missing. We discussed what opportunities and risks arise from virtual or hybrid collaboration in companies and how leaders can maintain the relationship with their team as well as their engagement.

Diversity & Language Awareness

When companies want to live diversity, it comes with new expectations for communication and language. How can communications raise awareness of D&I issues? How can employees from all areas - whether in production or in the office, whether in Germany or internationally, whether male, female or diverse - be addressed and involved in the best possible way? And how do companies communicate their D&I strategy to the public?

DISMISSED! 2020 // Financial Communication & Transforming Corporate Communications

Postponed to June 10-11, 2021 at SCHOTT, Mainz

Due to the Corona crisis, the Leadership Forum unfortunately cannot take place on May 7-8, 2020 as planned. We regret this very much and kindly ask for your understanding. 

Together with Salvatore Ruggiero from SCHOTT, we have decided to postpone the conference to June 10-11, 2021. We would be pleased to welcome you then at SCHOTT in Mainz. 

You will receive further information about the Leadership Forum 2021 in advance. 

All the best in these rough times and stay healthy! 


2019 // New Work & CEO Activism

13th/14th June, ARAG, Düsseldorf

The Leadership Forum 2019 took place on June 13 - 14. At the invitation of Klaus Heiermann, we were delighted to be a guest at ARAG in Düsseldorf this year.

Our topics:

  • New Work: Expectations regarding our working environment are currently undergoing massive change. Digitalization and globalization create more flexibility - whether in terms of time, space or organizational aspects. This leads to a transformation of workspaces and corporate structures. New Work is the new concept that can lead to more freedom for creativity, more self-determination and more participation. However, for the new concepts to come alive, a new approach to leadership, modern working environments and a different form of collaboration are required.
    New Work is not a target state, but a joint further development. Employees' expectations should be given greater consideration. For a successful transformation, changes must not only be initiated from management. Instead, the ability to change should be part of the meta-competencies of all employees. Especially in large companies, changes can be initiated in individual departments without implementing them immediately within the entire organization. New Work is not only a topic for the digital bohemian, it can also succeed in smaller craft businesses.
  • Content  Management: In many companies, this is the first area to be restructured to achieve more flexibility. Newsrooms are being established and the boundaries between internal and external communication and channels are blurring.
    With the increased speed of social media, the speed of communication must also increase. Especially in crisis situations, such as natural disasters, a flexible and fast response must be guaranteed. This challenge can be met with a newsroom.
    There are organizations that have only changed work processes and others that have set up a physical newsroom and are looking for a comprehensive transformation.
    Employees within a newsroom have to be generalists - who can independently deploy topics cross medially - rather than experts. However, this also requires a different self-perception and role model - from a press spokesperson or internal communicator - towards a topic manager who can integrate topics and channels.

  • CEO Activism: Never before have companies and their CEOs been in such high political demand. Company bosses are increasingly speaking out via social media. They influence social debates and at the same time shape the image of the company both internally and externally. But it is not uncommon for CEOs to be severely attacked when they show an attitude. So what is the best way for CEOs to join or abstain the public debate?

    CEOs in Germany are still very little represented in social media. 80% of people believe that they are more likely to trust a company if the management team is active on social media. Other figures also show that CEOs are expected to communicate on social media.
    The participants agreed that companies should stay out of day-to-day political business and remain politically neutral.  However, an active voice on social media or in public is required at the latest when the company's values are at stake. The attitude of CEOs to socio-political issues can be a two-sided medal: It is hardly possible to control which statements may have a negative impact on the company later on. It would therefore be important to improve the association's work in order to have a common voice in public discourse as a company. Individual CEOs can hardly replace this.

2018 // Focus on employees & influencer

07th/08th June, Pfizer Germany, Berlin

On June 7/8, the Leadership Forum 2018 took place at Pfizer Germany in Berlin. More than 50 guests from science and practice joined the conferene to discuss challenges of communication.

The main focus were on employee communication and influencer relations:

  • How can employee communication contribute to better employee engagement?
  • How do I prepare my employees for the new challenges? 
  • How effective is influencer marketing?
  • And what influence do bots and fake news have on communication?

We discussed these questions with scientists and practitioners from Siemens, Deutsche Bahn, thyssenkrupp, Daimler, Microsoft and P&G.

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2017 // Strategic Communications Planning

11th/12th May, Airbus, Berlin

The Leadership Forum 2017 took place from 11-12 May. About 50 guests discussed new approaches and challenges of strategic communications planning. Invited by Airbus, we were guests at their Group Representative Office in Berlin.

The motto of the Leadership Forum 2017 was "Strategic planning - the supreme discipline in communication". The following questions were addressed:

  • Which communication and management tools are helpful? How does communication planning and the strategy process work in companies?
  • How can agile planning methods be used?
  • How should reputation and big data be strategically planned?

The communications managers and experts from Bosch, GIZ, Osram, Otto, thyssenkrupp and Voith gave interesting insights into their strategy and planning work. Researchers from the universities of Amsterdam, Leipzig, Münster and Berlin presented selected study results with a practical value.

2016 // Trust and Mobile Communication

14th/15th April, Museum for Communication, Berlin

The Leadership Forum 2016 took place at the Museum for Communication in Berlin. The host was Prof. Dr. Christof E. Ehrhart, Head of Corporate Communications and Corporate Responsibility at Deutsche Post DHL Group. Around 40 people attended the discussion on trust and mobile communication in corporate communications.

  • Trust is regarded as a central prerequisite for entrepreneurial action. But how do you deal with it? Siemens and the Airbus Group presented their experiences with the topic. In addition, scientists Bryan Reber and Flora Hung-Baesecke presented research findings on how trust develops in an international context.
  • The second day focused on mobile communication, which undoubtedly belongs to the future. More people are already accessing the Internet via smartphones and other devices than via PCs. Cornelia Wolf from the University of Leipzig presented current trends in the mobile world. Kay Oberbeck of Google presented the strategy of the online giant, which relies on "Mobile Only" unconditionally. And Bosch gave insights into the diversity of its apps, which open up new possibilities for addressing stakeholders.
  • The highlight of the Leadership Forum was the CEO dialogue with Dr. Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group. He spoke openly about his expectations of successful communication.

2015 // Communication in the Digital Age

7th/8th May, Microsoft Atrium, Berlin

The Microsoft building in Berlin, Unter den Linden 17, is a perfect mix of the old and new, and has developed into one of the most sought-after venues for political, economic and cultural events in the German capital. It is here that the digital future is not only discussed, but is also designed, shaped and lived.

The headquarters of Microsoft Germany provided the perfect backdrop for the Leadership Forum 2015, which took place at the invitation of Thomas Mickeleit, Director of Communications at Microsoft Germany. This year's conference focused on the Academic Society’s new research program Value Creating Communication, which examines first and foremost the current major trends in corporate communications.

Digitalization is one of the most important trends in communications at the moment and was the main focus of the conference. On the first day of the conference the opportunities and limitations of big data for corporate communications were discussed. On the second day, the discussions focused on the impact of the dramatic changes in the media landscape due to digitalization/the dramatic effects of digitalization of the mass media.

The aim of the Leadership Forum is to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences between communication experts and academic researchers. Nearly 50 participants joined the conference.

Continue Reading:

2014 // Personal Communication

8th/9th May, Representative Office of Deutsche Bank, Berlin

From 8th to 9th May 2014, approx. 30 corporate communications executives gathered at the Leadership Forum in Deutsche Bank’s Berlin office.

At this year’s conference, Dr. Rüdiger Grube, who has been the CEO and chairman of the management board of Deutsche Bahn AG for the past 5 years, gave insights into his daily work. He faces the communicative task of communicating with Deutsche Bahn’s 300,000 employees. He places high value on personal communication and devotes about 15% of his time to communicating with employees. Grube follows a  transformational leadership style that not only takes the individual needs of employees into account but also is designed to challenge and inspire them as well. Authenticity and a down-to-earth approach are cornerstones of his communication and leadership style.


Further topics of the event:

  • Personal Communication in Companies (Claudia Mast, Martina Rauch)
  • The Profession’s Future (Ansgar Zerfass)
  • Ethical Guidelines in Communication Departments (Guenter Bentele, Alexander Wilke)
  • Success Factors of Corporate Responsibility (Ulrike Röttger, Britta Kopfer)
  • The cultural evening program in the me Collectors Room at the Olbricht Foundation

2013 // Corporate communications and internationalization

25th/26th April, Bertelsmann AG, Berlin

The Leadership Forum 2013 took place in Bertelsmann’s representative office in Berlin from 25th to 26th April. Corporate communications executives and academic representatives gathered for the third year in a row to discuss the current issues and challenges in the field of organizational communication. This year’s conference focused on Corporate Communications and Internationalization: Dealing with Stakeholders, Structures, Strategy and Social Responsibility in a Global Business Environment.

2012 // Organizational Structures and Compe­tencies for Internationalization

29th/30th March, Humbold-University of Berlin

The Leadership Forum 2012 took place from 29th to 30th March at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Leading communication executives from the German-speaking region and international researchers joined the debate on Strategic Communication: Organizational Structures and Competencies for Internationalization.

2011 // Strategy, Leadership and Power in Communication Management

6th/7th May, Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig

The Leadership Forum 2011 took place in Leipzig. Professor Bruce K. Berger (The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, University of Alabama) as well as Professors Finn Frandsen and Winni Johansen (Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences, Denmark) gave a keynote on Strategy, Leadership, and Power in Communication Management and presented the current research and practical insights of the leading academics in the field.