Before the #pmcamp is after the #pmcamp … (2) continued: report of my session

By now, the Berlin PM Camp is also already a thing of one week in the past. I had designed a session about “Ethics/Morals & Management Today”.

You already read the first part of my presentation “Morals versus Ethics” (LINK). So here is part 2 as an attempt at formulating an “idea-typical” image of the modern manager.

What are the characteristics and qualities a person should have if he or she wants to take an extraordinary degree of responsibility for a social system such as an enterprise, along with making important decisions and initiating consequential behaviour? Because, for me, that is the definition of managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, or whatever you wish to call them.

In order to structure the entire presentation, I have formed three clusters:

Operatively – Strategically – Normatively.

  • Operatively

    In this category, I would wish to list the “normal” qualities a manager should or even must have today. Basically, we are talking about a good technological and business competence, a capability to listen attentively, a mastering of active communication, both in writing and speaking. But it also means that you should be able to present yourself as an intelligent, quick-witted and confident person, basically being able to negotiate and equipped with good instincts. In other words: you should have a suitable degree of extroversion and flexibility. Also, a halfway decent upbringing and a good measure of the law-abiding disposition seem important to me.    
All these qualities are certainly useful. I will not go so far as to judge which of those are really necessary. But I am sure none of the mentioned criteria are sufficient.
  • Strategically

    This is where I see the leadership quality. The expectations get higher: terms such as “inner freedom”, “empathy”, the ability to handle conflict situations and living up to your own high standards come to mind. A healthy identification with the values and cultures of the enterprise seem very important to me. Also, I would wish to see a good portion of humility before the task. And in particular, a leader should understand the difference between morals and ethics (see part one of my presentation), along with being able to behave in an “ethically responsible” way.
  • Normatively

    Here comes another rather challenging issue. We are asking for “entrepreneurial qualities”! It is all about moving “beyond randomness” and into “responsibility”. You have to be able to discuss the values of the enterprise and the culture (in a very powerful world which constituted itself quasi automatically) in a constructive and critical way. You have to be willing to accept “change”. In order to do this, you will need primary virtues such as “civil courage” and “constructive disobedience”.

During one of my presentations on leadership, we had a discussion about “charisma”. Is “charisma” a necessary requirement for leadership? As I see it, charisma is a misunderstanding. Because it is not a person who is charismatic; instead, their behaviour is perceived as charismatic.

But let us return to my image. To be sure, it is a rather random model. Besides, you can easily imagine other requirements to add, or structure it differently. The division into three parts is also something you might wish to extend or modify. And as always, my model is also one of those where you should not think in terms of “black-and-white”.

Of course, I cannot imagine any person blessed with all the qualities I described. For us common humans, this is also rather a relief. But perhaps my image can help if you want to walk along the lines of the triangle or even move into it and ask “where am I?”. Also, you might ask where you are headed and what you can do in order to get there.

(Translated by EG)

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