Outgoing Lufthansa CEO's Advice To Leaders: 'Never Be Too Satisfied'

Outgoing CEO of Lufthansa Christoph FranzReutersChristoph Franz

When your company’s doing well, it can be tempting to adopt a “don’t fix what ain’t broke” mentality, especially if you’re one of the larger competitors in your field. Experimenting with change is inherently risky, and when you’re taking in a comfortable profit, there is little incentive to seriously question your business strategy.

But according to Lufthansa’s outgoing CEO Christoph Franz, developing a culture that values change was one of his biggest accomplishments at the German airline.

“Lufthansa culture generally has been a very inward-oriented airline culture,” he said in an interview with Business Travel News, but “[c]ompetitive pressure is requiring a lot of flexibility and this also is reflected in mental openness.”

“Always be self-critical enough,” Franz says, “and be vigilant when we look around at what our competitors are doing and ask, ‘What can I learn?'”

Some of Franz’s changes, including a massive restructuring of the Lufthansa Group and curbs on labour costs, encountered more resistance within the company than others. But as he leaves the airline to join Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche, Franz insists that making bold moves is necessary for companies to stay competitive in industries that are constantly changing themselves.

“We went from an only-invented-here syndrome to a steal-with-pride orientation. There are a lot of good ideas around,” he says. “Never be too satisfied.”

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