Friedrich Merz: What politics can learn from supervisory boards

Friedrich Merz

Donald Trump demonstrates every day anew that managers are not necessarily the better politicians – especially if they cultivate a basta mentality and therefore divide instead of unite. But what about professional supervisory boards? In an interview with ZEIT, Friedrich Merz said last week that he had learned in the business world how to “build up and introduce successors”. In fact, hardly anyone will doubt that there is a lack of adequate succession planning in politics: Many incumbents cling to their posts for a long time.

Supervisory board members can listen – and ask the right questions

And when a successor finally arrives, it is often merits for the party or wing proportions that make the difference – and not competence and leadership qualities. This is different in most companies today, above all thanks to the professionalisation of supervisory boards. Another ability of good controllers that would be helpful in politics: they can listen and quickly familiarize themselves with complex topics. It is therefore not a shortcoming that Merz should not have “exceptional knowledge of digitisation”, as WirtschaftsWoche complains. Because in politics, too, we don’t need specialist experts at the top, but those who find good people and ask the right questions. We do not want to judge whether Friedrich Merz should therefore become CDU leader or even chancellor. But his experience as a board member speaks more for him than against him.