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Leadership Principles at ZF

The ZF Leadership Principles offer guidance. They provide managers with clear standards to follow. Simultaneously, the eight principles are intended to benefit all employees by providing a binding frame of reference.

Get an idea of ZF's leadership culture.

1. Win trust through fairness and by being a role model

Trust is the product of reliability, fairness, and integrity. Reliable are those who keep their promises.

  • Leaders comply with the provisions of fair and trustworthy leadership, defend the ZF values, and diligently observe the ZF Leadership Principles.
  • Our leaders commit to an appreciative approach in interaction with their employees, founded on a positive, optimistic view of human nature.
  • They are reliable, avoid prejudices, set transparent benchmarks, and agree on achievable goals with their employees.
  • Our leaders act as role models out of conviction and at all times. They foster and demonstratively embody a steadfast culture of mutual trust.
  • In their leadership role they also consider the goals, expectations, concerns, or fears of their employees.
  • Leadership has to be predictable and consistent. Leaders believe in what they say and say what they believe.

2. Link performance with goals

Performance is linked to meeting established targets. Attaining the ZF Group objectives is the focus of the work of our leaders and employees.

  • Our leaders explain the medium and long-term corporate objectives to their employees.
  • Our leaders agree on measurable professional and behavioral goals with their employees or set targets if necessary.
  • Our leaders and employees do not only have an obligation to perform, but have also a right to perform. That is why our leaders engage employees according to their performance profiles and develop their skills as well as their talents.
  • Our leaders do not settle for satisfactory if better is possible.
  • Our leaders strive to and encourage employees to learn from mistakes and not to repeat them.

3. Develop by recognition and constructive criticism

Recognition and constructive criticism are essential management tools. They serve to foster achievement and job satisfaction.

  • Our leaders address professional or behavioral errors in an open and timely manner.
  • They formulate their criticism on the basis of measurable targets in an individual and discrete way without offending the employees’ personality.
  • Our leaders express gratitude and recognition once targets are attained and performance is outstanding.
  • Leaders ask their employees to voice constructive criticism. They take the employees’ suggestions seriously.
  • In performance appraisals, our leaders incorporate constructive criticism as well as recognition for employee performance.

4. Decision-making means assuming responsibility

Making decisions is the true challenge of demanding work. Our leaders and employees take necessary decisions in a vigorous way and according to common sense.

  • Decision-making and responsibility are indivisible. Responsibility cannot be refused.
  • Our leaders require and promote the assumption of responsibility for objectives and tasks by transferring defined decision-making to their employees.
  • Our leaders systematically prepare their employees to make the right decisions. In this respect, they foster the development of their employees’ competencies.
  • Leaders and employees consider the consequences of their decisions for people, targets, and objects.
  • Objectives are the benchmark for the quality of a decision.
  • Our leaders and our employees embrace their responsibilities:
    • for attaining corporate objectives
    • for dealing with employees, customers, and business partners respectfully
    • for protecting the environment
    • for complying with legislation, ordinances, and company regulations
  • Our leaders also accept the responsibility for uncomfortable or unpopular decisions.
  • Leaders and employees implement adopted decisions and resolutions systematically and in a loyal manner.
  • Our leaders assume responsibility for maintaining and expanding their own qualifications, knowledge, and competence.

5. Guide through communication and cooperation

Communication and information generate commitment, loyalty, and reliability. Cooperation promotes achievement and economic success. Applied properly, communication and cooperation provide great integrative power and impact.

  • Our leaders communicate internally and externally with clear goals, in an efficient and friendly manner, and with comprehensible language.
  • Our leaders communicate and cooperate across divisional, functional, or national borders and hereby promote the overall success of ZF.
  • With a modern, impartial style of communication, our leaders foster the link between people and markets, simultaneously ensuring that our organization remains agile, swift, and effective. Together with their employees, they rigorously rule out unreliability and unwillingness to cooperate.
  • Leaders communicate with their employees intensively,regularly, and authentically, without slogans, empty phrases, or clichés.
  • Our leaders avoid exaggerations as well as belittlements and work to counter the initiation and spreading of rumors.
  • They provide timely access to the necessary and useful information sources for their employees and foster reliability and precision. At the same time, they protect confidential information against unauthorized access.

6. Unite competence and professionalism

The willingness to attain our targets must be combined with profound knowledge and hands-on experience. Then, a high level of competence and professionalism is achieved.

  • Competent are those who take the right decisions. Professional are those who anticipate the ramifications of their decisions and behavior.
  • Our leaders promote entrepreneurial thinking by, together with their employees, detecting and weighing opportunities and risks and by taking target-oriented decisions.
  • Our leaders require and promote the search for root causes, reasons and impacts, and thus counter excuses and accusations.
  • Our leaders loyally and demonstratively stand by the goals of ZF and support them with consequential tenacity, also in difficult times.
  • In all business activities we strive to achieve superiority of competence within the competitive environment.

7. Embrace the diversity of cultures and people

ZF is present in many countries of the world. We foster the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and methods as well as the understanding between cultures and people.

  • Our leaders are open-minded, curious, and interested in the insights, approaches, and working methods of the people of other cultures.
  • Our leaders observe and respect cultural differences and foster understanding and tolerance vis-à-vis our employees, partners, and customers all over the world.
  • Our leaders demonstrate empathy and interpersonal skills in people management.
  • In cases of conflict, they remain objective, do not confuse comprehension with consent, and listen actively. They navigate conflicts in a fair and goal-oriented manner.
  • We perceive diversity and differences between people as an enrichment and an opportunity for ZF. That is why we engage employees from many countries of the world, regardless of gender, age, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation, and build on their talents and competencies.
  • Our leaders treat employees and resources diligently and avoid negligence and waste.

8. Seize opportunities, drive change

Our leaders demonstratively support the goals of ZF to the best of their abilities. The economic success of ZF, the satisfaction of our customers and employees, as well as the worldwide promotion of our good reputation are at the core of their mission and work. They welcome transformation and view change as an opportunity.

  • Our leaders foster the persistent readiness to change, whether this concerns products, services, behaviors, processes, or structures.
  • They strive not to preserve the familiar merely for the sake of comfort, but rather, together with their employees, constantly seek opportunities to optimize and thus better reach ZF’s objectives.
  • They thereby substantiate and explain changes to their employees in a comprehensible manner and involve them in planning and decision-making in a reasonable way.
  • Our leaders see themselves as dynamic protagonists. They dare to take risks and consider them carefully, seek opportunities, and also explore new avenues in attaining our targets.
  • In crisis situations they behave wisely, do not make rash decisions, and act with determination against causes and consequences.

Current publications

Annual Report 2019

In the Annual Report, you will find important data and facts from the 2019 fiscal year.

Sustainability Report 2019

What does sustainability mean for ZF? The Sustainability Report provides the answer to this question.