Empathy And Innovation- When Thomas Saueressig joined SAP’s executive board in November 2019, he never expected that he would have to lead 29,000 employees through a global pandemic and economic crisis. While he has found new ways to engage with employees, Saueressig’s empathetic style of leadership hasn’t changed. Now more than ever, listening to one’s team while adapting to a new way of working is crucial to keeping people motivated.
He recognizes the wide variety of challenges his employees face: juggling the demands of home school, tending to sick or elderly loved ones, and the unique trials faced by single people. “We are in a unique situation that you can’t find in any playbook or Google search,” said Saueressig. “But we needed to change engagement in the remote and virtual setting that we’re in.”
To stay close to colleagues, Saueressig holds virtual meetup sessions from home — more intimate conversations with employees to hear what’s on their mind and to keep the teams informed.
As the father of two young children, Saueressig is certainly sympathetic to people’s efforts to stay productive, while balancing family demands. “For me, it’s important to stay focused and get into a morning routine,” he said. “Every day I get dressed like I’m going to the office, which gets me into the work mood.”
Innovating In A Pandemic And Beyond
While people come first, Saueressig has other things on his mind as well. Since he oversees all of SAP’s business applications, its educational programs, global cloud infrastructure, globalization services and global labs network, Saueressig weighs how the pandemic will impact innovation and customers’ digital journey.
“I’ve talked to a lot of customer CIOs and digital transformation is on top of mind,” he said. “In the last couple of years, some companies treated it like a buzzword from the IT industry, but now it’s actually center stage and people understand why it is so important.”