Leadership Wisdom …

Gelegentlich bin ich auch als Speaker unterwegs - hier auf IF-Weihnachtsfeier 2014
Once in a while, I also give presentations – here at the IF 2014 Christmas Party.

During quite a few years of my life, I liked listening to the famous and successful “Motivation Speakers”. I was fascinated with how they can describe and explain the world in such easy terms. And, above all, how convincingly they show their audience the way towards success.

Their way of speaking and their charisma enraptured me. The top experts I am referring to are people who literally seem to be surrounded by a special aura. They elude a natural charisma that puts a spell on many persons, me included.

As the years went by, I made the personal acquaintance of some of these people. I saw how easy it is for them to formulate their vision. But I also saw that it is not always quite as easy for them to actually live up to their own standards. Once in a while, it did not look quite as glamorous behind the scenes as it had been looking on the podium. Because it is mostly easier to “teach something” well than to actually do it well yourself.

A short time ago, I met the key-note speaker Carsten Rath. Or, to be more precise: a friend pointed me in his direction. Because he had heard an interview Carsten Rath had given the Bayerischen Rundfunk. And he was so fascinated that he immediately sent it to me.

I do not know Carsten Rath personally, but the BR podcast is definitely worth listening to:

My friend believes this interview with Carsten Rath made it clear to him how a good managers differs from a poor manager. And that he only wanted to work in companies where work-life and work as such is practiced as Carsten Rath demands.

In fact, in this interview, Carsten Rath actually introduces many theses on leadership and management which no rational manager and person can seriously dispute. And his reasoning is both very competent and smooth. He also supports his theories with many small stories. In fact, it is convincing as a whole.

If I were asked to summarize what he says, it would read as follows:

  • “The customer always has to be the focus of what we think and how we act.”
  • “You cannot do a good job without being totally enthusiastic about it.”
  • “Every job is about everything, so you always have to give all your best.”

And then he cites his (created by him) “4Ms” as an abbreviation for:

  • “Man muss Menschen mögen!” (You Need to Like Humans)

The “4MS” are also something I can only approve of. The same is true for his postulating “the central virtue of a leader must be truthfulness”. That fits. Except that I call it “transparency, openness and authenticity”. But Carsten Rath also says that

  • ”consolidation lies in repetition” and “true top achievement usually means a lot of pain”..

Well, I have an easier term for the former: “Practice Makes Perfect”.

I am not quite so sure about the latter. I understand the statement because Mister Rath originated in the hotel business. Except that, for me, for instance “nursing homes for the elderly” are also some kind of hotel. And this is an area where I would think it is more important that all persons in the company consciously bear and share the responsibility for all those elderly persons. I would always wish to reduce the “pain” to what is absolutely necessary.

In order to give more weight to my ideas, I looked for another example from the circle of famous “Management Speakers”. During the Nuremberg 2013 DOAG Conference, I heard the great Peter Kreuz . Later, I made his personal acquaintance at the speaker’s table (well, I am sometimes at it myself ).

His presentation was perfect. On an inter-human level, we understood each other perfectly. “You” (women and men) were left with no alternative but to nod approval. All was great, all was right. He sounded convincing in all points. The only and very reserved criticism I heard was that, perhaps, the show was a little too perfect. Apparently, he and his wife are the perfect couple and enterprise.

These aforementioned speakers and several more can be said to play in a “different league”. Except, although I certainly would never begrudge them their high fees and the usually nice and long applause, I seem to have learned over the years that good leadership is a little more than that. And I do not even have the means to make this understood.

Well, let me try:

It is the many daily small things that might make a “leader” out of a person. There is the mostly constructive brain, an upright mind-set, practiced humanity and the ability to help towards your own and other person’s life getting a chance to flourish in many dimensions. Whenever you manage to make the people you meet look greater, instead of smaller, you might perhaps be a good “leader”. One indicator that you are a good leader might be that people you met feel better after having met you than before and they are also aware of it.

And all those beautiful theses that our top speakers brilliantly present could essentially just be the basic requirements that go without saying for a good enterprise climate. But there is no question that they, too, are terribly important.

But still, even if a “leader” has both the knowledge and competence to do all these things, even if he means ever so well in his job and does everything right, there will occasionally be instances when something goes wrong. Simply because the “leader” is also a human being like everybody else. Be it because he himself made a mistake or because once in a while strange developments make things happen that you simply could not mend – and perhaps you could not have foreseen them, either. Because we are all only human.

And that is something not even the most expensive and best management seminars and presentations will protect you from.

(Translated by EG)

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