Interview with Prophet's new regional heads of EMEA

Leadership learnings

Following their new appointment to regional heads of EMEA, we sit down with Tosson El-Noshokaty and Tobias Baerschneider to learn what leadership means to the leaders at the brand and marketing consultancy Prophet.

Which leadership rules have you learned along the way?
Tosson El-Noshokaty: Lead by listening to your people.

For some reason, the elevation to leader seems to carry with it an implied obligation to talk more than anyone else in the room, when actually it should be more about surrendering the floor so you can actively listen, recognise and encourage others. You’ll learn what’s working, what’s not, where you need to offer help and where you need to deliver feedback.

Over my career, I’ve learnt that the smartest people in the room are often those who engage by listening and asking the relevant questions rather than dominating the conversation.

Tobias Baerschneider: For me there are two:

  1. Do not micro-manage - Step back and trust your team. It’s easy to get entrenched in the minutiae so be sure to take the time to hire the best talent with the right capabilities so you can delegate with trust.
  2. Consistency is key - It may not sound very exciting but good, consistent leadership goes a long way. People need a leader on who they can rely and who recognises and values the contributions of others.

How do you lead and keep an international team inspired?
TB: As much as I like to inspire by having a hands-on approach, I also am a firm believer in inspiring people with a compelling story in a business context. Stories that show proven examples, actions and results is a great way to impart knowledge.

TE-N: As a German of Egyptian descent who has lived and worked in various different countries around the world, I’ve been provided with a great training ground and first-hand experience of language barriers and cultural differences. I’ve definitely failed on a number of occasions. 

Humour does not necessarily travel, friendliness can sometimes be regarded as unwanted familiarity and sometimes a bow is preferable to a handshake.

Managing a local team is hard enough but managing an international team is even more challenging. It requires learning and respecting local behaviours, but establishing strong communication channels is essential.

Digital tools are great – from video conferencing to chat tools, and we’re also lucky to have an amazing intranet at Prophet – but I also never underestimate the importance of having a physical presence. Making sure I spend time in each of our offices and taking the time to have face-to-face conversations with people, across all levels, whenever possible.

What excites you most about your new role?
TE-N: The new learning opportunities.

Leaders must be continuous, life-long learners.

I’m not just learning for myself, but to better mentor and train those I’m leading. Advancing and contributing to the skills and career of someone you lead is one of the most rewarding things.

Like any job, there are times when it can be stressful and frustrating – even lonely – but knowing I have the strongest team around me and devoting the time to help them get where they want to be is something that excites me greatly.

What’s something people may not know about you?
TB: Many might perceive me as a classic business consultant but I actually have a huge passion for creativity.

I applied to Hochschule der Künste post Abitur only to be turned down. So, I instead channeled my creativity by studying Design History during my Master studies in Milan at the Bocconi.

I am probably way more passionate about creative work than many may think and always have been.  

By Nichola Seeley, marketing lead, Europe, Prophet


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