In a stars webinar with Jan JENISCH, CEO of LafargeHolcim, we talked about the impact of COVID-19 and what features of doing business in the COVID-19 era may also survive into the post-pandemic era. Even though getting used to this new level of phone calls and video conferences was a struggle in the beginning, Jenisch now likes the benefit of the increased efficiency it brings.
Since he became CEO of LafargeHolcim in 2017, a key part of his strategy to transform LafargeHolcim was to give power back to the country level. Previously, too many decisions were made at headquarters which had better been developed and proposed at the country level. Jenisch stressed that to make smart decisions, you have to ask the competent people. His leadership style is therefore to get a proposal from the people who actually run the business – not just because they know the business best and they can identify feasible options, but also because they are the ones responsible for executing these decisions. Jenisch doesn’t like to think in hierarchies, instead we should think more in tasks, initiatives and teams. As a big supporter of flat hierarchies, Jenisch therefore took out one layer of management in the company to empower the country leaders to make the right entrepreneurial decisions. Through these initiatives, LafargeHolcim became much leaner, more focused on its top KPIs, and its operational efficiency was brought to the right level.
While the building materials industry has already made considerable progress in its transition to clean-energy technologies, Jenisch expects to see much more progress in the coming years. For instance, LafargeHolcim just launched a new low-carbon concrete range, with up to one third of the product being made out of recycled building waste. LafargeHolcim is already one of the biggest waste recycling companies in the world, but Jenisch acknowledged that there is still a lot to be done in the field of sustainability. One radical project that LafargeHolcim is currently pursuing is to capture CO2 emissions in future plants.
In a nutshell, Jenisch summed up three lessons learned from his personal leadership experience as follows:
- Empower people: Have the courage not to tell people what to do, but to ask people what should be done
- Listen to others: The higher you move up in the leadership hierarchy, the more you should listen to others
- Keep up with young people: When you get older, try to keep up with young people and let yourself be challenged by them
To watch the recording of the webinar, please click here.