Deniz Aytekin, whose parents migrated to Germany from Turkey, is a referee for TSV Altenberg and has been a DFB referee since 2004. He made his Bundesliga debut on September 27, 2008, in the match between Hertha BSC and Energie Cottbus. He has also been a FIFA referee since 2011.

Deniz Aytekin’s main occupation is business economist and entrepreneur. For example, he is co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board of anwalt.de services AG, which offers an online legal advice platform; he is also co-founder of the online sales portal fitnessmarkt.de.

Deniz Aytekin Lecture topics

  • Respect is everything: What counts on and off the court
  • Strategies of seeing, perceiving and deciding
  • How to make clear decisions under pressure
  • Acceptance – What matters when making decisions. How to be accepted despite difficult decisions.

Decisions are based on information and facts, among other things. However, we do not always have clear facts or the necessary information to make an assured and correct decision. Does that mean that we then never decide and wait until we have everything?

Deniz Aytekin: “Get the people who have something to report on board. Then you’ve almost won.”

As a referee, you get the necessary information and facts on the field primarily by seeing and evaluating an event. However, the human eye, as well as the brain, is limited. Certain processes are not perceptible to the eye and at very high speeds the brain cannot process the information.

Referees need strategies to arrive at the correct decision despite the above limitations. In the lecture, numerous strategies will be shown and explained with video material. An exciting journey into decision making in professional soccer with some interesting parallels for daily use in the decision making process in companies.

Deniz Aytekin: “Football has become faster and faster and more athletic. Not only are the teams perfectly equipped, but there has also been tremendous progress in the transmission quality of television images.”

The human eye and brain are limited, however, he said. “Certain sequences are no longer perceptible at very high speeds. So referees need strategies to still come to the right decisions.” And those same strategies can be applied to the business world, assures Deniz Aytekin.

Managers deliver an average of 4 to 20 pieces of bad news (i.e., news that is not in the recipient’s best interest) per day. Examples of bad news include mundane such as negative performance feedback or rejection of requests (for budgets or even vacation requests), but also strategic issues such as employee reductions or layoffs.

The ability to not be able to deliver bad news or to deliver it inadequately is considered one of the main weaknesses of decision makers and prevents next career steps. There are studies that show that a single piece of bad news has more negative potential than many pieces of good news have positive potential. The delivery of bad news needs to be managed.

So the fact of making a right decision is no longer enough. The art of ensuring that the decision made is accepted and respected is the endeavor of many managers but also referees. In the lecture, ways will be shown how to achieve acceptance in a difficult environment and under high pressure. The art of how bad news is ideally conveyed will be presented from a professional sports perspective with parallels to business.

Digitization in soccer using the example of video evidence and video assistants – a perspective on digitization from professional sports.

Deniz Aytekin presided over the DFB Cup final between Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2017. In 2019 & 2022, he was voted the most popular DFB referee of the year.

Distributing tasks in a team and anticipating courses of action are two ways to be successful in the market or to lead a company. Another, according to Deniz Aytekin, is close observation of the environment. “Players often give themselves away extremely. You have to get a feel for recognizing that. Then you can also compensate for limited perception. And the same applies to employees in meetings.”

How do I lead authentically, empathically and yet firmly? Leadership and collaboration: on the soccer field and in business. As in soccer, communication at eye level is extremely important here as well as in business.