Digitisation: Which board members need to clear their language

“Only those who are understood can convince”, warned Heiner Thorborg in a current column. Managers must therefore be able to”speak well, freely, intelligently and comprehensibly,” instead of”hiding pale thoughts behind cloudy chatter,” says the personnel consultant. We vehemently agree and add that language is more important than ever in the age of digital transformation. After all, it is important to explain completely new business models to employees, shareholders and other stakeholders – at least understandable, ideally exciting.

Book, Heidenreich, Wenning: too nested, too passive

Instead, we observe a typical managerial jargon with many board members, which is characterized by nouns, “passively constructed sentences with abbreviations and technical terms” (Thorborg) and an excessive use of Anglicisms. CEOs Rolf Buch (Vonovia), Steffen Heidenreich (Beiersdorf) Joachim Wenning (Munich Re) should work particularly on their language:”Although they are native speakers, they came in at the bottom of this year’s Dax-Redner-Ranking of the University of Hohenheim – among other things because of long and passively formulated sentences. On the Hohenheim scale they received between 8.4 and 12.1 points, while top speaker Tim Höttges (Telekom) almost reached the maximum score of 19.9 out of 20 points – and is thus following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs.