Ambidextrous Leadership Wanted
Greiner Packaging CEO Manfred Stanek opened the Innovation Day with a presentation called: Ambidextrous Leadership Wanted – companies caught between managing global crises and transforming the packaging industry.
“I want to talk about how we at Greiner Packaging have adapted our leadership to do two things in parallel, managing performance and dealing with all the difficulties we have experienced in the supply chain, while also managing the transformation of our entire industry. Doing two things at once, is ambidexterity – the ability to use the right and left hands equally well.”
Managing global crises
Manfred Stanek outlined the unprecedented events of the past 12 to 14 months and said that in his more than 20 years in business he had not experienced so many challenges at the same time.
“2021 began with a major shortage on the monomer market, leading to low availability and dramatic rises in prices. Then there was a strong increase in demand from Asia as it came out of the pandemic more rapidly than Europe, which also contributed to the shortage of raw materials. Then came the winter storm in North America, which forced factory closures and more shortages, and this coincided with billions of euros being pumped into the European economy to kick-start it after the pandemic, so consumer demand increased, driving prices up, and raw material availability down.
“The next thing that happened was a worldwide shortage of containers, so on top of the material supply issues we were experiencing, there was a breakdown of the logistics supply chain. And then, as if we didn’t have enough problems, the Suez Canal was blocked, further driving availability down and prices up. I joined Greiner Packaging in 2016, but I have been in business for over 20 years and for a decade in the metals industry, and I have never seen so many force majeure.”
Manfred Stanek said that during the last quarter of 2021, everything began to stabilize while prices remained very high, but then, this year, the war in Ukraine began.
And now we also have the energy crisis and huge inflation, with the highest rates since 1981. That’s 20 years ago, so few of us have the experience to know how to deal with this.
“I wanted to show you the magnitude of the issues that industry has faced and how all of our energy went into managing these crises so that we could keep our customers supplied."
Transforming the packaging industry
“But at the same time, we also needed to focus on other important issues and priorities. We have our targets to get to climate neutrality, and to achieve a circular economy. And we want to reduce waste in the environment. So, the question for us, in our company and for us as leaders, was and remains: ‘how can we do both things at the same time?’ All our focus needs to go on keeping our customers supplied, but we also need to make a profit and manage the transformation of our industry, so that we can exist ten years from now.
“This is what brought us to the topic of ambidexterity. Leadership actually comes from innovation, and innovation management has helped us to come up with concepts which enable us to do two things at the same time.
“By developing new types of organizational structure, delegating authority to where it belongs and redefining the hierarchy of our organization, we have learned to simultaneously manage for performance and manage for transformation through innovation and agile leadership.”
Watch the recording of Manfred Stanek’s presentation here.