Prof. Dr. Isabell Welpe

Professor at TUM School of Management, Munich

QX: Isabell you're our first VANITY OF THE MONTH of the year 2014. What are you looking forward to in 2014?

2013 was a great year, so I hope 2014 will be similar. I look particularly forward to a vacation in the South Pacific.

QX: Your research interests are strategic leadership and new technologies. What is leadership for you and how do you live your own philosophy in your department for Strategy and Organization at the TUM School of Management?

Isabell: Leadership is of course about influencing what others think, feel and do. There is so much, maybe too much, to talk about what should leaders do and what leadership style they should use. In the end, all it comes down to is whether you can increase trust and the perception of fairness among a team and between leaders and followers. If people trust you and trust each other and also perceive general fairness, you will have a great team, great results and a good time along the way. Of course this sounds much easier than it is done.

QX: You’ve worked for a long time in the U.S. including a visiting chair at the Keck Graduate Institute. Does leadership have a different meaning in the U.S.?

Isabell: We talk so much about leadership excellence, in the US they train everyone in leadership as early as high school that I have started to think we need to start to talk about “how to be a good follower” too and how to practice “follower excellence” :-). Yes, leadership styles in the US are different, but in the end they are also about trust and fairness.

QX: We just cooperated to survey the study “how women network”. What do you think how do women differ from men? And what can we learn from each other?

Isabell: Our similarities are greater than our differences. We need to stop to talk about what makes us different and talk about what we share and how we can be more inclusive. That goes for many dimensions in the political and managerial discussions. There is too much emphasis on gender and nationality these days, which I guess is necessary until we can all go “gender- and nationality-blind”.

QX: It is not a surprise that you’re a network member as you and QX seem to have so many things in common. Would you mind telling us about your personal QX story?

Isabell: Certainly. I have been recruited in a fun 1-day assessment style adventure in downtown Frankfurt by Thomas Fuchs. I joined that group because they looked like and they were(!) a lot of fun. And I really loved the stress interviews they put us through. Thomas had the best questions you never hear at interviews. In the end it is about quality relationships and this has and will continue to work at QX.

QX: Thank you for this inspirational interview! :-) Last but not least what is your Vanity?

Isabell: Every now and then, I do things I know one should not. I recommend this to others too :-).