Although he was in the front line in the battlefield, he was intelligent, pacifist and moderate. He conquered many countries by the means of negotiation and compromise. He became well known as a military genius and as a unique statesman. He always took high risks. He surprised his enemies because he moved his armies very fast. He found new cities to assist his armies. The number of the cities reached 70. Among the cities, which were founded on fertile areas, the most famous one was Alexandria. The city became the center of science, technology and trade in time. The Alexandria Library was the largest library established up until today.

He wanted to conquer the world. While he was doing this, he also had endeavored to unite people and let them live in harmony. He respected the religion and culture of each country he conquered. He didn’t destroy the temples. He regarded Egyptian gods as equivalent to Greek gods. He married Indian and Persian women. The people he led both loved and respected him.

He expanded the Greek culture and language on a huge territory. He ensured Christianity to become a “world religion”. He was the founder of the Hellenistic period that would last for 300 years, and also the Roman Empire that would live for a thousand years.

Although he learnt a lot from his teacher Aristotle, he didn’t always follow his advice or have the same opinion. He didn’t regard the non-Greeks as barbarians just like Aristotle did. He treated the Persians in the same way he did Macedonians. He said farewell to each of his soldiers in his deathbed. He deployed strategies on the basis of competition superiority. He was described as the most courageous, the most intelligent and the most charismatic leader of all times.

Alexander the Great led “in every condition, in every place, and in every culture”. Every leader has a lot to learn from him. Especially the expatriate CEOs and managers working in Turkey…
In Turkey,the expatriate managers have to be extraordinarily talented, knowledgeable, multicultural, and experienced. They will be managing in a constantly changing and indefinite environment. A manager who is not familiar with Turkey can only achieve success only if he acquires these characteristics. Alexander the Great was at the age of 20 when he became a leader. However, he was 18 when he won victory with the army he commanded for the first time. He was able to compensate his lack of “experience” because he was a leader in birth and he had a teacher like Aristotle. His father Phillip II, the King of Macedonia, trained him as his successor from an early age. 

In other words, it is not enough for a leader to be talented. He also has to grow some gray hair. It would be unfair to expect an American from the heart of the USA to digest complex, original, and prosperous business structure of Turkey. The same American CEO may be an excellent CEO if s/he acquired managing experience for a few years in South America, in Asia and in any of the Mediterranean countries. He would train coach and develop his/her successor CEO’s, and move onto new areas in his/her own career. Maybe s/he could not leave turkey and become one of the volunteer ambassadors that we really need.


You can see many different leaders around. Perfect leaders, imperfect leaders, immature leaders, fake leaders… The expatriate leaders who can be successful in Turkey have to belong to the group of “perfect leaders”.

There is a song that says, referring to New York, “If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere”. New York is such a tough city that it is hard to survive there. It is expensive to maintain your living standards; striking up new friendships and sustaining them demand big effort.

Let’s make a claim: If a manager, a CEO, can make a team and develop his/her work, train his/her successor leader without knowing Turkish and without his/her friends, s/he can work as a CEO in any country in the world. What do you say? Do you also think that it is true?

In the December issue, on our “The Leader with/in Us” pages, Managing Director of Sony Eurasia, Mohsen Noohi, and Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Türk, Till Becker revealed their secrets of leadership for us. Our guests in this issue are Christos Kartalis, Managing Director of BMS – Bristol Myers Squipp; and Jim Zaza, Regional Managing Director of Pepsi Co., Frito Lay; and once again Till Becker, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Türk. We asked them to share their secrets of leadership for our readers.

First of all we will learn leadership secrets of Jim Zaza, Regional Managing Director of Pepsi Co., Frito Lay, – who is experienced in top-level management and knows Turkish consumer and employees very well – in his pure style.


There have been many definitions of leadership over the years whether in text books or expressed by management Gurus, teaching professionals and executives. All those definitions are quite accurate in their own right and have been effective in describing the essence of leadership.

Nothing, though, in my opinion is more accurate of the definition of leadership than the words of Galileo when he said: “You cannot teach a man anything; you can help him discover it within himself”. By saying so, Galileo puts on the shoulder of leaders the responsibility beyond providing a vision. It essentially puts on our shoulders as leaders the accountability to mobilize organizations towards higher grounds of achievement by bringing the best out of individuals and teams. This is the heart of effective leadership.

First and foremost, to be able to tap into the vast capabilities that exist in organizations, leaders must instill core values supported by a culture in which people can flourish and reach their dreams. Effectiveness though goes beyond the letters of values that remain hanging on walls and the culture that no one essentially feels. This is where the role of the leader emerges.


Leaders can capture the attention of their teams only when they have earned the respect and trust which form the power of effective leadership. To that end, employees pay more attention to “values-in-use” and not to the words uttered.

Leaders have to embrace the highest ethical standards to gain the trust and pride of their organizations. Once this essential building block is achieved, leaders would then be able to capture the attention of their organizations and get back positive reactions.

The above fundamentals of leadership are applicable to any culture and form the base building blocks of successful leadership. But it doesn’t stop here; To be successful, leaders must build a deep understanding of and respect for the cultures they operate in, for that is how they can reach the core of their organization to bring the best out of their people. Turkey is no exception to this.


Over the past decade, a high quality class of professionals has been developed which is essentially leading most companies in Turkey today. This group is a force behind the improvement of quality of leadership in Turkey; demanding quality, high ethical standards and commitment of their leaders.

Unlike some other cultures I have operated in, effective leadership in Turkey is based more on personal connection one develops with his/her team and less on task.  Moreover, the involvement of leaders in Turkey with their people extends beyond the boundary of the business. Leaders may find themselves allowed to be more a part of their people’s lives.

This is, in my opinion, a great privilege a leader can have, but with it comes a greater responsibility: How to ensure that people and/or teams keep identifying with the company rather than the leader himself?

Jim Zaza’s words are so expressive that they make us think, and they are almost mirror for everyone trying to be an effective CEO in Turkey…

 Christos Cartalis is both the Managing Director of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Turkey, a world’s giant company operating in drug industry, and a leader who gives speeches, writes books in order to transfer his knowledge and who thinks and executes fast. He gave his leadership secrets through examples and his experiences. The things he tells are really interesting as he is a Greek neighbor working in Turkey. Kartalis explains leadership as follows:


“Don’t expect to see which way the wind is blowing so you can safely adjust; Create the Wind.”

(Jim Collins, Author)

Time: 15 seconds before the game ends

Place: Anywhere where people play games or business

Leadership Behavior: Here we are down to the last 15 seconds in the championship final basketball game; Down by one point and only one chance to score. The person who will get the ball to score will be the leader; the person who will actually ask to get the ball, will be the ultimate leader.

 Having lived and worked across several continents I had opportunity to observe, and hopefully learn, from great leaders who spoke different languages, were of different ages, had various skin colors, different backgrounds and manners.

They all had however some extremely common characteristics in terms of:

 * Passion for what they were doing,

* Energy to motivate,

* Credibility to take the tough decisions easily,

* Audacity to do reach for the stars each time,

* Ability to deliver Consistently,

* Humbleness to be simple and approachable,

*Above all however, the belief in Change as the most important part of organizational evolution.


“Treat your people with respect. Make them feel good that they are doing something important for the company. Give them confidence. Then, get the hell out of their way.” (Jack Welch)

Time: 8:30 pm, one Thursday night in 1998

Place: Thailand

Leadership Behavior: Having worked with a gifted group of colleagues 15 hour days for the past 3 months on negotiating with the government on a critical – company survival issue and achieving miserable results despite the, admittedly, well thought and implemented approach, I call my then Supervisor in Singapore.

Gave him the bad news but most importantly, admitting that I was not having total control of the situation and although I did propose a yet good plan to handle it further, I suggested to him to take over on this issue especially with a deadline coming up in 5 days.

Softly listened to me for more than 15 minutes, then spend 5 minutes talking to me about his belief that he had the best person handling this toughest issue and that if I cannot turn it around, not too many people would, etc, etc… So far so good; All was good and positive but then he started going strange: He asked me whether my children were going to school the next day and how he believes my wife must miss me since I work so hard … etc, etc. Finally it came out: “Why don’t you take your family tomorrow to Phuket island, spend the weekend there, do not take the laptop or palm or mobile with you and totally avoid thinking about work. Just swim with your family and call me on Monday morning. If on Monday morning, you still believe this is how we should handle it, then whatever you decide it will be fully supported by me”.

Well, I did not go to Phuket but I did take Sunday to reflect on the issue and the Monday call was a good one.

If there is a leadership example ranking, this must be really up there.

Yes, I tried it in Turkey with a colleague working beyond limits and guess what: It worked in Istanbul the same way it worked for me in Bangkok.

I have come to strongly endorse several undervalued leadership traits and behaviors which I found to be critical differentiating factors among very good Leaders; Characteristics that take Good leaders to Greatness.

* The ability to manage innovatively and to push the right buttons

* The ability to work at high Speed bringing up the Tempo within the organization

* The belief in the importance of relentless Follow-up

* The Flexibility to work skin-deep and vertically deep, depending on the situation

* The genuine interest in getting the best out of 'slower' paced people in the organization, leading into higher levels of appreciation, trust and teamwork.


“When you take the elevator up to reach the top, pls don't forget to send the elevator down, so that someone else can take lt to the top”

(Dikembe Mutombo, New Jersey Nets Basketball Player and Philanthropist, from Congo) 

Time: April 1994, Jan 2003

Place: USA and Turkey respectively

Leadership Behavior: Towards the end of my performance evaluation discussion, my boss and I were talking about future possibilities for me having a very pleasant and positive review for both sides. Just in my thirties at the time and quite early in my career (or so I thought) I was relating to my Manager how high I could go within the next 1-3 years and how I could go about it in what it seemed to me was a good step by step approach to senior management levels. All of sudden, he stops my; I see his face getting red and, seemingly disappointed; He excused himself to get a cup of coffee. When he came back, he seemed very serious, sat close and across from me, looked directly into my eyes and said: “Look Chris, there are two ways of doing “it” … One way if for you to wait until I move out to a new company or die and the other way is to simply ask and work hard to get “it”.

I was totally confused until he explained that “it” was his job. The guy wanted me to ask and work hard enough to get his job because he felt I had the potential to do so.

It so happened that soon after I did get his job since he got internally promoted.

Some years later in Turkey, I was working with a great bunch of colleagues and was in my early efforts trying to work through a hierarchical culture towards more of a participative, systems based, type of management. I was doing the review with a high potential working with me when it was my turn to get a red face seeing the Manager’s overhumble approach towards the future. I did suggest to the individual that he had many things that would make him able to take my job and he should not be shy about it. Some days later that person related to me his ambition to get my job and asked me how I could help him achieve that.

Great Leaders have the strong belief that the Right people development is the most critical part of their job and the audacity to publicly proclaim that choosing to work with people who, either currently or potentially, have the ability to become better that them is the greatest motivator to personally improve themselves further as well.


"The species that survived were not the most intelligent – they were the most adaptable to change."

 (Charles Darwin)

Time: 11 pm on the night the 2003 Eurovision Song Competition was taken place

Place: My hometown in Greece.

Event: With some of family members we were having a long meze dinner at my uncles garden while the children were inside watching the contest. Although we could hear the excitement when the final voting was taking place, the adults were quite uninterested, especially since the Greek song had poor chances of doing well.

At the end of the contest my 8 year old son, bursts out of the house and yells to me: “Daddy, “we” won, “we” won!”. Going through my third raki, I was not quick enough to realize the “we” part but the Greek relatives did state to my son how it was possible for “us”, meaning Greece, to win since the Greek song was not a favorite by far. My son turned back, looked at me and said: “No, no.  Dad, “we” won. Turkey won!”

Being a person of Greek origin, I cannot tell you how proud I felt at that point for my son cultural development. To put things in the right perspective, he gets equally excited when his Greek favorite team, Olympiakos is playing with Galatasaray. I am sure I have a long way to achieve cultural adaptability but I am happy that at least one member of my family has done it.

 Working in a different country and Living the Culture of that country are two very different things. Culture is not Kapali Carsi. Culture is spending time to know the language, inviting people to your house and being invited back. Culture is the ability to say “MY country” when you talk in presentations or events about Turkey and actually not feeling strange about it.

As senior executive in my company says: “A leader does not deliver the message; a leader should be the message”.

I have been fortunate to work with people who are great leaders, from Paris to New Jersey, from Singapore to Rome to Turkey and I am fortunate to currently work in Turkey with people who are or can potentially be great leaders, hopefully all of them wanting my job!


Mercedes-Benz Türk is one of the oldest and biggest companies owned by foreign capital in Turkey. It has been operating in Turkey since 1967. In its factories located in Hoşdere and Davutpaşa it produces intercity and city type buses whereas in its factory located in Aksaray it produces light and heavy duty trucks and semitrailer tractors.

Dr. Till Becker has been the manager of the company in Turkey. He came to Turkey after gaining experience in different countries. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Foreign Investors Association (YASED) and an active member of Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD). He is well known for the speech he delivered in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 2002 about “Improving the investment environment in Turkey and attracting more foreign capital to Turkey”.

Yeşim Toduk Akiş (YTA): How do you separate Leadership from Management? Where do you draw the line between Leadership and Management?

Dr. Till Becker (TB): I do not separate Leadership from Management. For me, you cannot do one without another. Leadership is how to bring people behind you, to let them first follow you. As a leader, you have to built up your people’s mindset, get them to gear into objection, and then let them develop their own responsibilities. They have to think for how to solve the task and/or the problem but in order to do that you have to be creative. Whereas management is the “how to get things done in the best and the most efficient way”.

YTA: Do you think leadership comes from birth or learn it by the time?

TB: Leadership in principle is more inborn than learned. You have to have a certain input so that you can apply. There are some leadership tools that can help develop people’s success like reading, education, and/or financially. You have to have enthusiasm in leadership, you have to let your people believe to themselves, so that they can come and like to work for you. People have to come to work willingly. As a leader, again you should know how to bring the idea to win, to success. The tools would help only partly.

YTA: How different it is the business leadership in the Turkish Culture?

TB: All counties have their unique way of cultural structures, you have to pay attention to characteristic differences. You have to know the culture and respect it. For instance, if you are in India, you have to be careful with a lady, ladies do not shake hands. India is a family structure minded country, so for instance we introduced the family concept in our factory in India. Team leader is called the father; production supervisor is the son or the daughter of the family member of the team leader. A leader should adapt tremendously to culture differences. Turks on the other hand, are tremendously sensitive.

The difference in Turkey is that you have to pay attention to the words you choose. Advices or the criticism should be given much differently, in a more sensitive way. Do not let them lose their face. Once Turks are motivated and get more people in the boat they then become more ambitious, more independent with what to produce. Respect for the pride of Turkish people, taking the consideration of the respect of Turks is very important. The main effort as the leader is giving people more lead, to lead them to develop the ideas. Value their results.

YTA: How do you lead in Turkey?

TB: Business has one language today. You have to be outspoken, you have to bring the change. As a global business culture, do not have time to talk nonsense’s, be open and direct. Find some creative ways to address. What international business talk today is Speed, Speed, and Speed.  No matter what culture you are in, business culture is global, but you have you use it in the right time. You cannot afford to put the local sensitivities.

I want to marry the “national” culture with the “company” culture. If you use this mixture marriage, it brings more quality to work, with this value for instance, In Turkey with the work of nine months of production, we had better quality even better than the HQ’s in Germany. I need to bring this casual value in every part of work. Top management leaders should speak clear language. Once I get the objectives, I then look for strategic parts, so mentally I take the second net out of them and also take my responsibility away, so that they could go their operational excellence.

YTA: How do you see Turkish managers as leaders?

TB: Turkish leaders have tremendous entrepreneurial forces in general. Unheard of other European Country’s, once they are let in the right independent work such as letting them learn the operational part, see the strategy, and do the work, you then can not find any better. Turkish managers are first class. Many managers in Turkey work in leadership functions. Last year, twenty-three managers went to Germany to learn, to get the training, most of them wanted to come back. As I have stated before people are first-class, the leaders are qualified. I can say that it is better than the examples in Europe. The results we get also support this.


 In this issue three expatriate managers have given us their leadership secrets. The good thing is their ambition to share their knowledge and experience honestly; and also their consciousness and plans for training their successor leaders; together with the importance they give to the ethical standards and cultural values. 

What would working with these leaders be like?