One should climb to the top slowly. Reaching the top is one thing and it takes more to stay there. One should not only stay there but also go beyond oneself and be there for the long run.
We meet with different types of “profiles” in business world. Ones who succeed fast, ones who go down fast. Ones who reach the top fast, stay there for a while but then go down. Ones who never get it, will never get it. The least we see is the ones who go to the top and stay there for the long run. Our subject is “ long lasting leaders”. Our question is “Have you ever seen a long lasting leader in Turkey?
In our eighty years old republic, the capital saving is yet at an early stage. “Turkish Style Management”, “Turkish Style Leader”, “Turkish Style Work System” etc. is the kind of terms that are being defined. Because of the fact that these definitions are relatively new, we take a look at the US, “the home of capitalism”. Leadership has been the most used subject for articles or books in the US in the last five years. Among these books, the most interesting one is Good to Great. The best-seller book is written by Tom Collins, who is a management consultant and a former professor at the Stanford University. Collins and his team have researched 1435 US companies who have been in Fortune 500 list between 1965-95. And they have outlined the characteristics of the most successful ones according to certain criteria. Only 11 of these companies have been deemed “great” and this led them to outline the skills of leaders of these “great” companies. These great companies are found to be seven times more profitable than the average profit of the public companies. And their shares doubled what Coca-Cola and Intel shares did bring to their holders. According to Collins only 11 companies were classified as “great”. This accounts to 1% of the companies researched. Collins has seen that the difference between the 11 and the rest comes from their CEO’s. He also has seen that ten of these leaders were hired afterwards and three were naturally appointed as members of the major share holding family. Also Collins compared these “ great” 11 CEO’s to less successful CEO’s. Of the less successful CEO’s 6 were hired afterwards. Collins has named these 11 great CEO’s “ level 5 executive”. The common characteristics of these great leaders are:
- They bring lasting success to their companies,
- They have a desire to win,
- Despite a high desire to win, they are also modest.
We can see the paradox relations between desire to win and modesty in the following table better: Surprising, isn’t it? Their leadership methods value results rather than individuals. I think this is what brings lasting success and make them long-term leaders.
Now we take a look at Turkey. Turkey, who has been struggling politically and economically for years, has a shortage of managers let alone leaders. According to newspapers, a company’s average lifetime in Turkey is about 25 years. But the leaders, they last even shorter. Turkish business world is living its “polished leaders” era beginning with former President Özal’s days in power. We have seen for years the leaders that are in the spotlight while their companies are going down. These types of leaders more or less have the same story. They just fall into their pasts. Their knowledge is mostly in “marketing” and “PR” because they are educated abroad. They spend the companies PR budget for their own PR. They get media coverage, give speeches and presentations at sectoral meetings, and become members and Chairman of prestigious associations. No one can “hold” them. But then the bubble bursts.
Professionals have to quit while family business leaders run their companies to the ground after all those years of work. Let’s take a look at these people’s common traits. Tom Collin’s research result “polish leaders” lack is “professional desire and personal modesty”.
“Level 5 Executives”
I have interviewed about 1500 leaders at Amrop International over the last seven years. I tried to understand their leadership methods. I followed their career because of academic interests. I have seen the difference between a manager and a leader after mistakes I made in the first three years. Coming from that Collin’s definitions of “ Level 5 Executive” is an evolution. Some of these managers always say “we”. They don’t have a success story of their own. Are we supposed to admire him/her just because he/she is a good team player or follower? The identity of the maestro is probably a 2nd or 3rd level in the hierarchy.
Effective Leaders, on the other hand, are hard to find. They need to set clear and exciting visions, act as a catalyst in aiming high performance standards. At the same time, push his/her team’s performance. It is too bad they don’t come along often. Are there any “ level 5 executives” in Turkey? Academically speaking, it is impossible to answer this without making a comparative company analysis. But I am sure there are many “level 5 executives” in Turkey, which has been successful in athletics, basketball, football and music. We see in most of the long-term leaders of multinational corporations that the most important resource Turkey has is not cheap and hep manpower but serious and professional executives at the world standards. I had the chance to research many industries in Turkey. That’s why I can understand the effects of economic changes on different industries and get together with leaders from various industries. There are few well-known long lasting leaders in Turkish pharmaceutical industry.
Roche Turkey General Manager Faruk Yöneyman is one of them. He is a long lasting leader. For those of you who don’t know much about the Turkish pharmaceutical industry, Roche is the third company in sales according to pharmacy sales and second in overall sales. With the leadership of Yöneyman, Roche Turkey ranks 11th among other Roche companies in the world. From 1991 to 2001, Roche was the distribution leader in the country. But after the crisis of 2001, the government turned to cheap medicine policies and Roche stated to loose blood like other highly imitated, similar good producing companies such as Pfizer, GSK, and MSD.
Yeşim Toduk Akiş (YTA): At Amrop Hever’s International Symposium about Leadership, you shared your views on Leadership, which you stated that, “ Leadership comes from birth”, because of this can we start our interview from your childhood and tell us about it first.
Faruk Yöneyman (FY): I was raised in Kadikoy in a middle-class family. My father was a banker. My grandmother was one of the first teachers’ of the Turkish Republic. She was the teacher of our third president, Celal Bayar’s wife, Reside Bayar. In 1950’s, when Mrs. Bayar arrived with a huge limo, our street was full of curious people. I had my first concept on presidency and on about leadership at the age of 6. I was raised with the attention and the great interest of my grandmother. She was with me all in my primary school years. In those years, my only goal is to enter to St.Joseph high school, as the all other local kids do. In St.Joseph, I learned how to survive. I played volleyball. I had fun. As a classic St. Joseph student, I didn’t choose to go to Istanbul Technical University or to France, but graduated from Robert College (now know as Bogazici University). I looked up to people in top managerial positions and think of becoming one, and/or learn how to be one. In my first year, I evaluate engineering and business administration. Either I was going to be an engineer with my capital and have my own business or go on to a business world and learn have to manage people. I choose the management side of the business but with never leaving the social life I choose to be in. I learned everything in a long and a hard way. In my term, I had many friends and teachers that had leadership instincts in them. For instance, Arman Manukyan used to know the subjects very well; Demir Demirgil, had a student friendly style; Ahmet Koc, was a role model to us in every sense. Ozer Ertuna, was a brother-like. With a team of people who had leaderships in them, we graduated in 1968 from the school.
YTA: Did you have any other activities during your university years?
FY: I was writing about music to Cumhuriyet Newspaper. I was a DJ on Wednesday’s nights at the university club. Music was my passion. During those years, it was a trend to go to a Konak Cinema on Wednesday’s afternoons, and I never missed once.
YTA: How was your family’s view on you? How was your school life? Did you have strong friendships?
FY: My courses were good. My average in my last two terms was 3.00 out of 4.00. My family always supported me, and they encourage me in a positive way. I still had strong friendship that continues till today. Everybody was very comfortable and in the respected line even to say “The King is naked!” to each other.
YTA: Did you have any plans when you graduated?
FY: After the graduation, I immediately wanted to work and have a business experience. I had 24 months of military service.
YTA: How did you start to your first job?
FY: My first job was with Harvester Turkey. They manufactured trucks and minibuses, but I worked for a very short time there. The organization wasn’t what I expected. On march 1st, 1971; I start working in the marketing department of Roche related Budgeting and Controlling.
YTA: You had your 32 years in Roche, how did you climb the steps in Roche?
FY: Two years after my start, I was the Planning and Control Manager; in 1979, Department Manager of Planning and Control. In 1980, I became as the Head of Pharmaceutical department, and then assigned as the Assistant General Manager.
YTA: Did you ever have any other job offers during this period?
FY: During last years of my term as the Assistant GM, there were the signs of promoting to GM. I was offered to many jobs, and couple of them was the international assignments for the GM positions again within the Roche family. I waited eleven years, and finally become the General Manager in 1991.
YTA: Your last twelve years you had Roche as the market leader in the sector, and become more successful than the other international countries. What are the essentials for a leader to be?
FY: As I mentioned before, first, you have it in nature. Second, you have to always update your self with the new developments. Third, ambition is important but it has to come with a vision. Fourth, you have to know the process, learn and apply it. Fifth, you have to be trustworthy. Six, you have to see and carry the vertical and horizontal organizational structure of the company very well. And last, you should be able to form a synergy in the organization such a way that you could set strategies, find solutions and be a mediocre with in the organization.
YTA: You are known as the successful leader in this sector. Isn’t it hard?
FY: My employees also complain about this from time to time. A former employee once mentions that, “Mr. Faruk, you were very hard both my and your life in order to be a market leader and to stay on top as the leader. Nobody was expecting this much success from you. Why did you insist so much?” If I don’t show or teach the leadership vision, and be stubborn about it, even the image of our salesman image will be totally different. Roche was a frontier in the sector. We could have this only by professionalism and/or the desire for our work.
YTA: We know that it’s very important to have good relationship with the headquarters, especially with the giant organizations like Roche. How did you maintain this relationship?
FY: I always had close friends at headquarters. I deliver a different Turkish image. Knowledgeable, educated, always prepared, organized, always who could reflect the truth. They liked the way that I have an open communication style, that I have set goals, I could be pushy for to motivate people.
YTA: You mentioned that, to be well informed is important. Can you define that more?
FY: Information is not static. We shouldn’t be stop learning. Always had to improve, be open to new ideas, and can put into practice. The ability to have and make decisions is also very important.
YTA: What kind of people you prefer not to work with?
FY: I don’t like people who don’t reflect the truth. For instance, I would give reference to a person who well represented the work ethics of our company, who well matched with the company rules than I would help them.
YTA: Do ideal leaders always motivate?
FY: A leader should know where to say, “go-ahead”. He/She shouldn’t say “go-ahead” everyday. There is always time to attack, and have form for that attack. It cannot always be used.
YTA: When you took over Roche, where was it, where is it today?
FY: In 1970, Roche was in the fourth place within the “Leading Manufacturer”. In 1990, it became first among the manufacturers and third in the “Leading Distributors”. Between 1991 to 2001, we were in the first place. Today, we are in the third place, because the government after the 2001 economic crisis had cheap drug policies, and lost blood where they used to imitate Roche, Pfizer, GSK, and MSD. In 1980, Istanbul office was in the 18th place within the worldwide Roche organization. In 1990s, we moved to the eighth place but today, Roche, is in the eleventh place among all Roche Companies. This result is the success of a hard working team.
YTA: What do you think are the barriers that have leadership potentials, but can’t achieve to their goals?
FY: If a candidate works with a bad manager, this might also affect their performance. People who are at the beginning of their careers can learn things from a good, role model leader.
YTA: How do you balance your business life and your personal life?
FY: My focus was generally to my work. I was always at work at eight o’clock in the mornings, and my leave was open. I work very hard. My phone is always open, even in the holidays. During the weekends, I try to be with my family as much as I can. My wife is a Robert College Science and Foreign Languages department graduate. She was then my friend. We got married after I completed my military service. We had a daughter who is now an interior designer, is her product. She had a great deal on her. I might have some mistakes when she was growing up. For instance, in 1992, she came first on riding in Balkans so I was expecting her to be in the first place in Athens in 1993. When she wasn’t successful, I got angry. There were times that I didn’t get her. But I never insist on my mistakes. I know to say, “Sorry”. A vision and a leadership have to be within the marriage. To be realistic in the long term can bring happiness to marriage. My wife has a fascinating social life. With had a long lasting friendship with our friends.
YTA: What is the “missing leadership features” that you see in Turkey?
FY: A leader should prepare the leader that will place him with. For the last three years for instance, my friends were in the race of getting my place. Some couldn’t finish it, so I am trying to train new people.
YTA: You are in the business for almost 11 years, do you sometimes find in monotonous?
FY: Before coming to work everyday, I am thinking “what I could do new and different today”. I try not to be routine; I talk face to face with people who have problems, I can and congratulate a newly wed employee. And again before, I go home, I start thinking what has changed today.
There are some people… You wonder how they manage to do so many things within 24 hours. You always believe that they have some magic…
Another “long lasting leader”, is Can Paker who is Henkel's CEO for twenty years. Can Paker is well known for his contributions to Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) as a member of the Board of Directors and for his chairmanship in the Board of Directors of The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV). We had a long conversation with him.
“ I’VE BEEN A MARXIST, A SOCIALIST, AND A LIBERAL BUT NEVER A CONSERVATIVE ”
Yesim Toduk Akis (YTA): Do you think leadership is inborn?
Can Pakel (CP): This is something that people argue about. It could be handled like becoming a “pianist”, its genes, cultural and social environment, self-improvement, all of them is very important in being a leader. Through an engineer’s eyes, we could say that there has to be some features for a leader that comes from birth but it’s not always necessary.
YTA: What kind of a family you have?
CP: I got an interesting family. My mother is one of the first chemists of Turkey. She became the Head Chemist in Eskisehir Sugar Factory, and my father has graduated from Forestry Department, but because of his interest in law, he studied law. In the following years, my mother became a physic and chemist teacher, and my father, after his retirement from a government job became a businessman. I was the first child. During my childhood, my mom was always in a work environment. In our house, our main goal was never to “be rich”, but “to read” more.
YTA: How was your school life?
CP: There are many coincidences in life. People and societies don’t sometimes plan it, but the formation of it happens spontaneously. After the elementary school in order to learn English, unlike the other kids in Eskisehir that went to Galatasaray I was assigned to High School. I was a bright student both in elementary school and in middle school. Once the science department was closed in High School, I continued to Robert College as a boarding school.
YTA: What did you gain in studying in a boarding school?
CP: Istanbul has a different life culture. I started to perceive everything around in a different way. Boarding school was a though environment for the children at my age. One had to struggle a lot. To be in a boarding school was a risky choice, not everyone can do it. If you can stand on your foot for once, then you can be there for a long time. This process was very important for gaining my self-respect. During this period, I met with my longtime friends and I started to realize at an early age how living in a society was connected to human relations.
YTA: What did you do after Robert College?
CP: I went to States with AFS, then came back and finish the high school. Then I went to Germany for university unlike the other young people who went to the States to study.
YTA: So you attended to a university in Berlin…
CP: My father used to say, “first go and enter ITU, prove your self, then you can go to Germany”. So I took the exams of ITU, got accepted to electronics engineering, which was my third choice, but could not get in to Mechanics. With my father’s support, I went to Berlin, learn the language, then became a Mechanical/Process engineer. I continued studying sociology besides engineering in Germany. I always liked theater; I became the Head of Student Union in Berlin. I like to be with people and guide them. For instance, once I had Behice Boran and Bülent Ecevit brought together and let them have a forum in 1968.
YTA: How did you give your choice after University of Berlin?
CP: I decide to be an academician in Yıldız University. I wanted to give lectures on Thermodynamics, but I stayed only three years. I could not find the same learning and teaching pleasure and the academic structure in Yıldız.
YTA: It should be a tough choice to decide to end your academic life. How about afterwards?
CP: I used to know Alber Bilen. My start to Henkel was actually happened because of him. He wanted me to join Henkel, but I used to underestimate it. When I went there, they were having a problem with the cooler. I solved the problem within couple of minutes. I was also speaking two languages so they considered me for the position and I got the job.
YTA: Have you ever found yourself in a rivalry with others?
CP: I was never in a rivalry with others in my business life but just in rivalry with myself.
YTA: Did you ever envy or admire somebody?
CP: I have only envied good actors in my life. Or for instance, I admire Talat Halman for knowing perfect English.
YTA: How about rich people?
CP: No, not rich people. I always find the money I earned, a lot. I like what I am doing and I got paid for it.
YTA: How was the structure of Henkel when you joined?
CP: As I said, after I completed my military service, I joined Henkel in 1970 as the head of factory plant. Fifteen years after I joined the company, I became the General Manager and the value of Henkel was 25 million Euros then. Together with Alber Bilen, there were three local partners of Henkel, having the 50% of the shares, and the other 50% of Henkel belongs to Germans. The Turkish shareholders also gave me a share.
YTA: How was the culture o f Henkel when you first started?
CP: I always think how I could achieve the maximum with what I already have in my hand. I like to guide people, I like to set goals with my team, and achieve something together with them. Henkel is very enjoyable to be in. Free from Headquarters, meaning, without having problems, we had many organizational changes. Our group is always known as a constantly changing, innovative, participant, risk taking, and developer group within Henkel world. I saw all these corporate as the organic structures. Like the human body, all the parts have the same degree of importance. In my managerial experience, I have given importance and respected the labor in every step of the process. Employer-employee relationship is very important. For instance, after 1980 coup, they wanted us to declare the people who join the movement, but we never did. Later, DISK gave us a Democracy Support Award.
YTA: Why do you think being a developer and innovator is such a big deal?
CP: Development and innovation are the results of interactions. If we consider employees only as workers, interactions decrease. People who enable the company to earn profit should also take a share from the profit.
YTA: How do you react to criticisms?
CP: People should give up the idea that they can be harmed by the opinions of others. My friends tell me about my mistakes all daylong.
YTA: How did Henkel develop?
CP: When I came to Turk Henkel, the company had a turnover around 25 million Euro. In 1998, it increased to 200 million Euros. We became one of the top companies that had both rational and operational success. As Henkel Turkey, we have presented at least 15 people to global business world. We have a liberal company culture, and we are always open to discussion. I am free, and I always work in comfort and with pleasure. I have always reached a result. Henkel brings a general know-how, and we always apply this to Turkey.
YTA: How do you see Leadership and what is your secret in this?
CP: Leadership is the dialect between the person and the environment. That person cannot be a leader in some other surrounding. To like people, want them to be happy is very important. You cannot separate your own happiness from your surroundings.
YTA: Do you see any leaders in politics?
CP: Of course, Tayyip Erdogan is for instance a leader. He has his own style of reaching happiness with his environment. He realized that Turkey’s happiness comes from joining EU. Turgut Ozal was also a leader.
YTA: What are your activities in TESEV?
CP: Bülent Eczacıbaşı was the chairman at the time of its foundation. For the last six years I have been the chairman. I have never been a politician but always have an interest in politics. I like to attract people. When I was in TUSIAD, we first present a democratization package, and with TESEV, we had research projects on corruption in political subjects, European Union, or about governmental reforms.
YTA: Why did you take part in TESEV?
CP: I could not just stay in business. Being in touch with social movements is very essential. Otherwise a managerial blindness can take part.
YTA: Who do you think a successful manager is?
CP: He/She should be just and fair. Being a team member is important. I believed that the formal corporate relations are very important but to keep informal relations is also very essential. People should interact with others; I always channel my friends to different interactions.
YTA: What do you think about information management?
CP: I think using only computers is a mistake. The communication between people lies in interaction, and this social interaction emerges and improves through communication. People should talk to one another on specific matters. Open communication is essential.
YTA: How do you want your employees to be?
CP: I do not want them to be average. I try to have a relation with them that will keep them alert. Sometimes, things might not work as it’s planned and get out of track. At those times, we take quick precautions. This happens only through communication and interaction.
YTA: What do you apply crisis management?
CP: During the Asian Crisis, I went to Bali, and gave a speech on crisis management. People were so surprised about it. We first experienced crisis in 1994. During the crisis everybody had full authority and no authority at the same time. You had to give the risky decision without consulting anyone if there was no time. If there is the slightest requirement for consulting then you had no authority. We have to be disciplined and flexible. The second thing to know about crisis management is to be on the side of the customer. As a team, we were with the customer; I wanted them to smell the air. If you see that the customer is all into his/her work, then continue to supply the products. When, we did continue to support the customers that our competitors decided not to provide with products, and we were very successful in the long-term. We made quick decisions at that time.
YTA: How is your family life?
CP: At the age of 28, after I completed my military service, I got married. My wife, Mihriban, is a graduate of German school and an economist. She is now in the textile business. I got a son, Kerim, who is both working as an academic and a consultant
YTA: Did you find time to be with your son because of your busy schedule?
CP: I couldn’t help him much until he finished the elementary school, but after that I was interested with his education.
YTA: How do you define yourself?
CP: I’ve been a Marxist, a Socialist and a Liberal, but never a Conservative.
YTA: What are the most things that you like to do?
CP: Going to a theater in London, tasting different cuisines from famous chefs, but everything should always be in a disciplined way.
Here are two of exciting examples of “long lasting leaders” in Turkey. Their definitions of leadership are different, their ways of speech are different but their successes are the same. Both of them carried their companies to top in their sector. They proved their difference among the other companies in the world. They were shown as the unique examples of a leader. Moreover they haven’t achieved this for only once but again and again. We wish both of them the continuity of their championship in the “leadership marathon”.
Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
Channels ambition into company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company – to other people, external factors, and good luck.