The dropping of the ball in Times Square, falling confetti and the blowing of party horns took on special significance for STIHL Incorporated on New Year’s Eve. After 23 years at the helm, president Fred Whyte passed the scepter to Bjoern Fischer, who assumed his new presidential post at the Virginia Beach-based manufacturer and distributor of landscaping tools and equipment.
Fischer served as STIHL’s VP-Finance since 2012, overseeing financial operations as well as the human resources and information services departments. Fischer joined STIHL after more than 20 years with Siemens.
Here, Fischer shares mentor stories, quotes and ideas that inspire him to be a better leader each day.
How would you describe your style of leadership and why does this work for you?
Ronald Reagan said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one who gets people to do the greatest things.” At STIHL, we share the same interests as our servicing dealers and are working together with them to shape our future. My goal is to lead the STIHL organization through hands-on participation, continued transparency and, above all, with integrity.
How do you work at becoming a better leader?
I draw inspiration from those around me who excel in different areas. Not only do I try to learn from them, but I also try to support them in honing their skills.
Who are your leadership role models and why?
I am influenced most by those who are closest to me, but a few stand out as having certain leadership qualities that inspire me. Early in my career, I was inspired by my father and his ability to accept and embrace cultural and social diversity even when others did not. Today, Mr. Whyte serves as a prominent role model and mentor. His vision for the industry and the company will continue to influence me and the organization. I also admire his ability to motivate people and command the attention of a room.
What leadership books inspire you and why?
There are many great books and seminars out there that inspire thoughts or new ways of looking at old problems, but as I said I draw most of my inspiration from those around me who are leading in daily practice, rather than in theory.
As a leader, what’s given you the most pride and why?
It always gives me great pride when I am able to help or inspire growth in our employees. There are several examples of people I have mentored who have achieved great heights in their careers. I am proud of their achievements and honored to have played a small role in their successes.
What leadership words or quotes inspire you most and why?
Joel Barker said: “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.”
In my opinion, it’s not enough to just have a great vision or big ideas. A leader must be able to inspire others to support their vision and to work as a team to achieve common goals. If you’re marching down a path and turn around to find that no one is behind you, you’ve failed to lead.
If you were to give young leaders one piece of advice, what would that be?
The limitations and obstacles you will face in your life and career are often self-imposed. Dedication, discipline and willpower can overcome most anything. The ability and willingness to work with others and in a team is the basis for success.