Leaders who choose the leadership style consciously want to lead differently – or less – and do so: constructively, encouragingly, creatively.
The daily management routine is often sobering: nothing goes as expected.
Freedom is provided and highly motivated teams are expected to deliver top results in a self-organized manner. If little happens as a result, it is time to make an announcement again. Unfortunately, this does not lead to better results either.
This dilemma has three causes:
- Social systems are complex.
- Leadership does not have a linear effect.
- Leadership remains unplannable to a certain extent.
And now? Let’s start with the question:
When is leadership effective at all?
Leadership is effective when it is about real content. When decisions are made. To have a kind of helicopter view that a leader needs. And about focus. That’s leadership. The guardrails of the scope of action are values, principles and sometimes the following questions:
- What pays off with the most leverage to our success?
- How do I increase productivity?
- Where does a lot of time go by with little result? Whereby the result can be turnover, customer loyalty or employee motivation.
Communication and moderation
The issue of communication is often underestimated. The common belief is that organizations are made up of employees. From a systemic point of view, however, an organization consists of communication. Accordingly, a manager’s moderation skills should not be underestimated.
Let’s take a meeting with 5 participants as an example. There is a loose agenda, so as not to lose the thread completely, but also to give room for new things. And this is exactly what happens very often when people are in a room: they start discussing (thank God!). (And hopefully not just about the weather).
Remarks like “Good thought” or “That didn’t work the other day” or “What if…?” keep coming up. Observe: attention jumps to where meaning arises. And it’s also a leadership quality to recognize this and pursue that meaning. Therefore, moderate gently. Keep your eyes on the future and on what works. Sentences such as: “That didn’t work back then already…” may come to nothing.
If you manage to moderate these topics in a determined and empathetic way, all participants will leave the meeting with a good feeling and a high “commitment” to the matter. Because it was a voluntary, self-organized decision that those involved came to in the end.
The component time
The next dimension in everyday leadership is time. We cannot manage these. “Time management seminars” are unfortunately nonsense. When you read articles or literature on time management, it’s mostly all about self-optimization. What do I do best and how, how do I prioritize, when is my performance curve at its highest, what do I need to eat to keep it at the top? All legitimate thoughts and important to consider. But as German psychologist and professor of industrial and organizational psychology Michael Kastner said so well: “Time management is nonsense. You can’t manage time – only your behavior.” The hamster wheel turns only as fast as the hamster runs.
In my observation, new managers in particular often do not dare to tackle the real management tasks and hide behind the “oh-so-stressful day-to-day business”. Here it helps to keep a diary of the tasks.
When reflecting, it helps to revisit when leadership is effective.
The effect matrix
Taking into account the overall business environment, we now consider four fields of action:
Top right: What should only I do as a leader because it is through me (e.g., because of the formal power given to me) that we have the greatest leverage on our
goal achievement has? I call it the “self-impact.”
Top left: What should I delegate to the team right away because it will be effective in contributing to our goals, but I don’t have to do it myself?
Bottom right: What has little impact on our goal achievement, yet is important for me to get done? That can wait.
Bottom left: What can be done away or by another department? Anything that does not contribute to our goals, nor does it have anything to do with our role as a leader.
can be crossed off the to-do list.
How much leadership then…? Take the best of both worlds!
Of the levels described, it is that of formal power that gives a manager the most leeway. But this does not mean that this power is the most effective. Because the power of the system is, in my view, the strongest and also the one that can be influenced the least.
Leadership needs a context in which leadership does not eat itself through social dynamics.
Shaping this context is where the greatest added value of formal leadership lies. Design by using formal power to set a framework that enables ownership, self-organization, and perspective sharing.
And it is within this framework that self-organized leadership emerges, which can make a great deal of difference. The above-mentioned “commitment” is created. This is the basis for a “we-feeling”, the basis for an “I am part of the whole”, the basis for motivation.
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About the author
I am Gela, strategic marketing consultant, organisation designer, creative leadership coach. I realign marketing organisations: customer-centred, market-oriented, based on the values of the brand and the employees. My passion ranges from strategic brand development and support for brand mergers to customer-centred organisational development, the development of a (creative) leadership concept and support for operational implementation. My consulting aims to connect people, brand, market and organisation in a meaningful way. I live in Hamburg, I love TaeBo, Japanese cuisine, photography and my cat Filou.
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