SAP’s Tanja Rueckert on Leadership and Digital Transformation

By Valentijn de Leeuw

Industry Trends

Tanja Rueckert, SAP’s President of the Business Unit IoT and Digital Supply Chain, recently took time out for an interview about women’s leadership styles.

The purpose of the interview was to learn about success factors that helped Tanja in her career, and to identify challenges related to being a woman in an executive position. Beyond aspects that relate to advancement I also wanted to understand Tanja’s view on leadership in the sense of an approach to people management.

Tanja Rueckert at SAP Leonardo Live, 2017
Tanja Rueckert at Leonardo Live, 2017

Tanja’s Leadership

In my article on Linked-In I describe in detail the role of authenticity in Tanja’s people management, the role of mentors and sponsors in her career, and the way she manages her responsibilities as executive and as a parent. The article concludes with Tanja’s encouragement for women leaders, and my discussion on how Tanja’s leadership relates to emotional intelligence.

Tanja's View on Societal and Digital Transformation

Tanja mentioned that she believes strongly in digital transformation (key for IoT and digital supply chain) because it requires collaboration and she believes that women leaders can truly make a difference by making relationships and collaboration successful, thereby increasing the economic and societal impact of digital transformation.

Developing Your Leadership

It is unlikely that there is a magic recipe for women leadership and women advancement. There are many good practices to adopt as the ones described the article cited, such as authenticity, providing honest and benevolent feedback, as well as stimulating responsible behaviour, but there are many others too and the excellent leader can develop her or his own skill set and style. These skills need to be sufficient in number to bring her or him over a tipping point where she or he becomes truly effective.

If there is no recipe, what to aim for? Every leader needs to discover her or his authentic way of being, and tune behavior in a way that focuses the creative energy of co-workers and teams to creating value for clients or other goals such as sustainability, rather than letting it leak away in quarrels, politics and internal competition. Almost without exception, every person wants to be accepted as he or she is, respected, listened to and understood. This happens for example when the leader acts upon what collaborators say, and when they receive recognition for what they accomplish. It is not about being nice: authenticity will forge the trust needed to discuss more or less successful behaviour. Feedback and coaching will give people opportunities to learn and improve.

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to contacting me at

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