Founded in 1902, Kirchhoff & Sons is the kind of German family business that is becoming increasingly rare. The beer and beverage wholesale company employs some 80 people, delivering drinks in Hamburg and neighbouring communities. These days, the fourth and fifth generations are trying to steer the company into the future while also honouring a 120-year tradition. Annika Lueth, 30, joined Kirchhoff & Sons in 2015 and now serves as CEO together with her brother Felix, 32. Their father, Andreas Lueth, will retire in two years.
"The Navigator programme has had a definite impact on my professional as well as my personal life. It has allowed me to benefit from a great variety of perspectives on leadership."
In a family business, you always run the risk of continuing down well-trodden paths that feel inevitable, but that actually keep you from realizing your potential – both as a company and as an individual.
Maybe my biggest learning is to understand even better that good leadership doesn’t mean being everywhere all the time. Good leadership is about building community, and allowing other people to contribute their skills and passion.
I have certainly become better at delegating. And this has cleared up time for one of the most important areas I want to tackle – where and how to make smarter use of digital tools to improve our workflow.
All of this, finally, has given me additional room to think about the kind of leader I want to be as I move into the next phase of my personal life and start a family. This is my brother’s situation as well. We really appreciate the role models of the earlier generations, but we find that we are hungry for a better work-life balance.
In a short amount of time, the Navigator programme has allowed me to explore other leadership models whose innovative and careful use of resources inspire me to achieve something similar.