01 March 2013

Leadership Agenda: Siemens USA

The idea of spending time with a chief executive officer (CEO) of a major corporation is appealing to a corporate strategist. 

So when the invitation came from Dr. Susan Bach at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida to attend a reception and speaking engagement with Eric A. Spiegel, president, and CEO of Siemens Corporation USA, we readily accepted. 

Mr. Spiegel has responsibility for the $22 billion USA market which includes 60,000 employees and over 130 manufacturing sites. 

The parent company, Siemens AG, headquartered in Munich, Germany, was recently named one of Fast Company's "Most Innovative Companies" (#21).  Siemens's concentration is in four business sectors--energy, healthcare, industry, and infrastructure & cities.

Up close and personal

It's one thing to read about CEOs or see them interviewed on TV. However, there's nothing that takes the place of being up close as Eric Spiegel made himself accessible to college students and community leaders.

After providing an overview of Siemens's businesses, as well as changes in the marketplace, he touched on an often overlooked aspect of executive responsibility--the leadership agenda. 

What's a leadership agenda?

A leader's agenda is a plan for guiding the organization. It's not a business plan in the traditional sense. An agenda is a set of themes and priorities requiring action and progress in a given period. The agenda includes the main message and identifies critical issues needing attention.  (Briefing for Leaders HarperBusiness)

What are the benefits of a leadership agenda?
  1. Clarifies the main message
  2. Maintains focus
  3. Is a filter for allocating scarce resources
  4. Improves organizational health
  5. Provides accountability for results
Eric Spiegel's agenda

Wisely Mr. Spiegel has chosen a limited number of priorities to support and complement the Siemens USA business plan: 
  • Growth
  • People
  • Reputation
  • Operational excellence 
It's obvious from the presentation that he uses communication, including the above four themes, as a steering mechanism in his role as CEO.  This includes getting feedback from a variety of internal and external sources. 

The evening was a reminder that perhaps one of the most important decisions made by anyone in leadership is the allocation of their time.  

Mr. Spiegel doesn't have any more hours in his day than the rest of us. Therefore while he manages Siemens his executive assistant, Grace D' Alessio, manages him. She is given a share of the credit for whatever success comes Mr. Spiegel's way in leading a large and complex enterprise.

Some questions

Here are a few things to think about from our time with CEO Spiegel:
  • Do you have a leadership agenda?
  • Is it up-to-date?
  • Is the agenda clear, shared, and owned by others?
  • Can you be managed?  
  • Who manages you?  


(C) Bredholt & Co.