Dr. Dirk Bessau: Living leadership culture

Head of the business area “Energy and Climate” at Projektträger Jülich (PtJ)

Dr. Dirk Bessau: Führungskultur leben
Forschungszentrum Jülich / Michael Reitz

“It was a time of transformation: when I came from a European energy innovation company to work with Project Management Jülich (PtJ) in 2020, the organizational structure was undergoing fundamental changes here. With three major business areas being established, there was a new management level below the OU management at the PtJ. I took over the Energy and Climate business area – midway through the corona pandemic and at two locations in Jülich and Berlin. In view of this great challenge, I addressed leadership even more intensely. I also immediately involved P-E because I wanted to be able to optimally develop the new management level and its possibilities. An important question for me was, and is, how we conceive and intend to concretely shape modern leadership. In this, the clear framework of the competency model for managers at FZJ helped me a lot. I think it’s good and right for a company to know exactly what it expects from its managers.

At the same time, I asked myself: how can the competency model be applied concretely to our area? Fortunately, the Leadership Culture Initiative was just taking off in 2021 to help with this very issue. First of all, I sought advice from P-E on how we could use this instrument for our own requirements – and then I openly considered with my five department heads whether and how we wanted to use this possibility together. There was a lot of interest, so we as a management team took a united approach. In two workshops, we all learned a lot about the Jülich understanding of leadership. We have also grown closer together as a management team: in dialogues during walks, for example, we learned from each other who of us sees which opportunities, challenges and limitations in terms of leadership. That created a lot of trust between us, and I found it important to make this diversity visible before taking further steps together. We then developed ideas as to what we could do as managers to work together even more intensively across departmental boundaries in our PtJ business area. We have already implemented the first approaches.

However, the work on our leadership culture is not done with two workshops: the six of us will continue to ‘retreat’ at least once a year and, supported by P-E, evaluate what has worked well – and what has not. Yes, all this takes time, but in previous positions I have already seen repeatedly that with good leadership there are noticeably fewer conflicts and problems in everyday work that would end up taking a lot of time to deal with. That’s why I’m happy to invest time and energy – also to be able to attract and retain excellent staff in the future and simply work more successfully in the end.”

Last Modified: 28.03.2024