Sabancı Holding’s Chairman Güler Sabancı Addressed an Audience of Young People at the 2010 YGA Leadership Summit

29.11.2010

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  • SABANCI HOLDING CHAIRMAN GÜLER SABANCI ADDRESSED AN AUDIENCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE AT THE 2010 YGA LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
  • "SAKIP SABANCI WAS A VERY POWERFUL LEADER, BUT HIS STRENGTH DID NOT COME FROM HIM BEING THE BOSS"
  • "SAKIP SABANCI WAS ALWAYS A POSITIVE, SOLUTION-ORIENTED AND CREDIBLE LEADER"
  • "THE LEADER CRISIS IN THE WORLD IS A CONCERN FOR ALL COMPANIES AND THIS CRISIS CAN ONLY BE SOLVED BY TRAINING LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEADERS"
  • "THE GLOBAL APPROACH IS IN THE NATURE OF TODAY'S YOUNG SPIRITS. IT WILL BE THE YOUTH WHO ESTABLISH THE BRIDGE BETWEEN TODAY AND THE FUTURE. BASED ON DEVELOPMENTS IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, WE HAVE PREPARED AN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR YOU"
  • "ALL GLOBAL LEADERS PLACE IMPORTANCE ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY"
  • "AS THE SABANCI GROUP, WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SENSITIVE TO THE PROBLEMS OF THE COMMUNITIES IN WHICH WE LIVE"
  • "OUR MISSION IS TO MAINTAIN OUR LEADERSHIP BASED SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, A POSITION THAT WE HAVE MAINTAINED FOR YEARS"

Sabancı Holding's Chairman Güler Sabancı addressed an audience of young people during the 2010 Leadership Summit organized by the Young Guru Academy (YGA). Beginning her speech, entitled "The Socially Responsible Leader", by talking about the importance of leadership, Güler Sabancı said "Almost every day we hear someone, somewhere in the world, speak about leadership. Instead of fading away, attention to this topic is rapidly increasing, because leadership is important to companies, communities and to nations. In a world that is constantly changing and improving, leadership is changing and improving as well. Wherever at least two people come together, a leader will essentially emerge there. Whether the group is small or large, someone will eventually take on the role of directing and inspiring the group. As the group grows and changes, the roles of its directors and its other group members also develop and change. At the same time, as changes and growth appear, the leader's natural role in the realizing of common goals gains in importance".

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-"LEADERSHIP MEANS TEAMWORK"

In her speech, Güler Sabancı talked about the leadership crisis, saying that leadership as a whole is influenced by the battles for talent that are being seen as one consequence of the aging working populations in the developed nations. "A research study conducted by IBM that covered 40 countries and over 400 company directors found that companies have difficulty in training leaders and that they are even more concerned about the problems that they face in finding leaders. In that research report it said that this leadership crisis may lead to a 'global manpower crisis'. Thus, this leadership crisis, a single issue, may become a problem faced by all companies. However, this whole crisis can be resolved just by taking a realistic approach, accompanied by a long term point of view, when looking at how companies train and improve their talented leaders' existing qualities. Just pointing to a mountain and ordering your team to climb it is not leadership. Leadership consists of explaining the reason why climbing the mountain is important, convincing your team and then making them successful. Eventually, the team will climb. However, the leader is the one who guides, gives support and empowers the team. As Bill Gates said "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others."

-CHARACTERISTICS OF A LEADER-

Sabancı Holding's Chairman Güler Sabancı also spoke about the characteristics of an ideal leader. "The first condition of success is to believe in the job at hand and its feasibility. A leader is a believer. Leaders believe in their words, which an essential factor for maintaining one's courage; if they don't then they will lose their persuasiveness. Another prerequisite for success is to avoid complaining, to develop a solution rather than focusing on the problem. A leader is always solution oriented. One of the most distinctive qualifications of a leader is that they are positive and free of prejudice. A leader gives positive energy to those around them, encourages with good will and is a constant source of positive motivation. The qualifications for leadership are courage, being able to encourage others, not being afraid of change and the ability to create a difference."

-"SAKIP SABANCI'S LEADERSHIP -"

Ms Sabancı said that only brave leaders can encourage their teammates and use their courage to make a difference, and she talked about Sakıp Sabancı as an exemplary leader: "I grew up with Sakıp Sabancı. Sakıp Sabancı was a very powerful leader, but his strength did not come from him being the boss. His power resulted from his ability to rely on himself, his teammates, the people around him and on the Turkish nation. His success came from his belief that success comes from relying on the mind, planning and from hard work. Mr. Sabancı always looked to the solution and worked with positive emotions. He was brave and not afraid of change. He would receive many opinions, listen carefully, empathize with others quickly, explain his goals well and prefer cooperation. He was an ambitious director and he spread his excitement to others. He was the leader of the Sabancı Group and the Sabancı Family for 38 years, and he always displayed the confidence that resulted from his positive attributes. The leadership model put forth by Sakıp Sabancı 25-30 years ago is perfectly aligned with today's contemporary management theories. Today, when we hear the word 'leader', we think about inspiring and encouraging individuals displaying high levels of emotional intelligence. We think about individuals who are capable of working in cooperation with a team and who can lead such a cooperative environment. We think about those who can improve their teammates' performances, and who are inspired by cooperation. Studies indicate that the more the members of a team contribute to the planning process, the more they then strive to achieve the planned goal and the more intensely and sincerely they work".

-LEADERSHIP IN SABANCI HOLDING-

Ms Sabancı also talked about the approach to leadership in the Sabancı Group today. "Throughout my career, it has always been important for me to discuss, and to dedicate time and effort, in order to achieve a common, shared understanding on all significant, long term issues before coming to any final decision. The best example of this approach is Sabancı University, for which we defined a mission and vision based on a common understanding reached through an in-depth research conference. At Sabancı Holding, we also take a participatory approach to the conduct of all discussions related to the definition of company strategy, and to all of our objective setting processes. Once these decisions have been reached, then the members of the Sabancı senior management team, all of whom are leaders themselves, work alongside their teams to perform those objectives with courage and conviction".

-THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT-

Güler Sabancı then went on to talk about the difference between leadership and management. "Though leadership and management are both relative concepts, they are not synonyms. Good management is being capable of seeing how a task can be properly undertaken and completed. On the other hand, leadership is the ability to define which work is appropriate in the first place. One of the common traits of today's successful companies is that they place importance and value on those managers who exhibit leadership skills. Today, leadership is seen to be a process that requires continuous development. It is by opening their hearts and minds to change and respecting each change's essence that companies need to work on a range of policies that will shape their futures. Leaders determine which objectives need to be achieved, and they plan how these will be achieved. They find out which roads need to be followed. Along these roads they construct bridges to ensure a safe passage over obstacles, valleys and precipices. However, the single most significant bridge is the one between today and the future. Realistically, maybe the most important point to be understood here is that one person cannot provide such support all by themselves. The important thing is that a successful leader must be capable of using their leadership attributes to direct the collective intelligence of their team and, at the same time, learn new things from this collective intelligence. Sometimes, leadership means following the line decided on by the group, collective or the community. But actual leadership also consists of changing processes and elevating processes to higher levels. Leaders are not afraid of change, they make it."

"THE GLOBAL APPROACH IS IN THE NATURE OF TODAY'S YOUTH"

Stating that it is important for leaders to have a vision so that they can see into their distant future, and that it is absolutely essential that they set their objectives in proper alignment with the future, Sabancı said that the most difficult task is to construct a bridge between today and the future. She also said that today's leaders have to strive to manage their futures in a world that is constantly changing. 

Güler Sabancı continued: "We, today's leaders, grew up in a world divided by the cold war.  We gained our experience in such a world. Now, becoming more united and globalized each day since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world we live in today is totally new to us. But you, you were born in and grew up in a world already like this - the global approach is in your very nature. News feeds, mobile phones, and the internet with Google, Facebook and Twitter: these have always been an integral part of your daily lives. They are almost imprinted on your genes. We, on the other hand, learned about them well after our time; we became global citizens well after our time. The global approach as part of your lifestyle is essential to you, the future leaders of our rapidly developing and growing nation. I have no doubt that you will use this advantage well. Looking back, unfortunately we have not been able to leave much of an ideal world for you. Political problems have continued for centuries. Now we have social and environmental problems on our hands too. Despite all of these, especially over the last twenty years, we have been striving to leave a better world for you, at least to construct some strong bridges that you will be able to walk on. Over the last fifty years there have been considerable advances in science and technology. While we have not been able to eliminate our problems, we have built some infrastructure for you. Using this infrastructure, you will be able to construct your own bridges between today and the future."

-SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE LEADERS-

Güler Sabancı said that social responsibility is a priority for global leaders: "Some specialists say that social responsibility and financial responsibility are two equivalent, complementary concepts. The reason for the great change and the mark that it has left on our age is simple. As Peter Drucker, the leadership guru, said: "People who follow the same path that led them to success in the past are now condemned to fail in the future." Successful leaders worldwide implement solution-oriented company policies combined with environmentally-friendly social responsibility policies."

-SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AT SABANCI-

During her speech, Güler Sabancı also mentioned the approach to social responsibility at the Sabancı Group, and she discussed how they place a great deal of importance on these issues: "At Sabancı, caring for human life is the essence of our work, and it defines our responsibility to the people to whom we offer services. The most important reason for this is our consideration of leadership in all of its multiple aspects. At Sabancı, we are aware that being a ‘successful' leader is not necessarily in terms of the company's success. As a company, we understand how valuable it is to be sensitive to environmental problems and to produce solutions that take proper responsibility for the communities in which we live. This approach is in the Sabancı Group's genes, our culture and our values. Our social responsibility projects help us to spread these values to younger talents. As the Sabancı Group, we are proud of the values that we offer to society, as well as of the increasing levels of awareness of such issues. I believe that one of our biggest responsibilities is to spread such awarenesses. At the Sabancı University, for the first time the number of graduating students is greater than the number of new students. We raise young people to be global leaders and brilliant individuals, for the benefit of all of our collective futures. Additionally, our university conducts research on many different topics, from nanotechnology to the environment, for the improvement of the world. Furthermore, the Sabancı Foundation, since its establishment in 1974 has became one of the largest foundations in Turkey. The mission of the Sabancı Foundation is to make a difference to people's lives by creating genuine, modern and permanent values so that the potential of the nation is improved, while conveying the current sensibility about social awareness to future generations. Across a wide range of areas, the Sabancı Foundation has so far awarded more than 35,000 scholarships. Leaving aside students at the Sabancı University, we award over 1,300 scholarships every year. Our mission is to maintain our current leadership in the domain of social responsibility."

-SABANCI EMPLOYEES-

Güler Sabancı said that the employees of the Sabancı Group also work on social responsibility projects through the "Genç Sabancı" (Young Sabancı) program, they volunteer as groups and they cooperate with many non-governmental organizations. "When I see my friends giving presentations on their social responsibility projects, I am both proud and moved at the same time. The Sabancı Group maintains its leadership by making a difference to the lives of the people that we interact with."

-ADVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE-

Giving some advice to the audience of young people at the conclusion of her speech, Güler Sabancı said: "In 20-25 years or so, it will be you standing behind these lecterns, addressing future generations, who will then be of your current age. The world will be truly different then. But you are growing and you have already prepared for a world like that: you will be successful. You will work hard and strive hard. And you will improve as leaders by remembering your responsibilities to yourself, your family, your environment and to your society."