Independence in the Sense of the Whole

Digi­tal­iza­tion does not replace humans and it can­not do with­out them. On the con­trary, it is pre­cise­ly because of dig­i­tal­iza­tion that what is typ­i­cal­ly human is more in demand than ever before. This refers in par­tic­u­lar to our abil­i­ty to find cre­ative solu­tions togeth­er as inde­pen­dent indi­vid­u­als and to work togeth­er effec­tive­ly and effi­cient­ly in teams and orga­ni­za­tions. In the past, this coop­er­a­tion has long been char­ac­ter­ized by cen­tral con­trol on the one hand and obe­di­ent ful­fill­ment of duties on the oth­er. What was not very human for unskilled work­ers at the begin­ning of indus­tri­al­iza­tion, but at least pro­duc­tive, has final­ly become a degrad­ing imper­ti­nence in the mid­dle of the infor­ma­tion age. New lead­er­ship today aims at coop­er­a­tion that enables inde­pen­dence in the sense of the whole.

Lead­er­ship today is only legit­i­mate if it is aimed at the self-lead­er­ship of the employ­ees entrust­ed to it.

Götz W. Werner

In this quote, the founder of the Ger­man drug­store chain dm and the con­fess­ing anthro­posophist Götz W. Wern­er apt­ly sum­ma­rized the inten­tion of Dia­log­i­cal Lead­er­ship. This lead­er­ship approach has been devel­oped at the Friedrich von Hard­en­berg Insti­tute for Cul­tur­al Stud­ies in Hei­del­berg since the mid-1990s and has received exten­sive atten­tion due to its suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion at dm. Based on the great diver­si­ty of mean­ing of the ancient term Logos as used by Her­a­cli­tus, Dia­logue in this con­text means far more than just a cer­tain way of speak­ing to one anoth­er. What is meant is the basic atti­tude and the inter­ac­tion with each oth­er, such that the indi­vid­u­al’s self-deter­mi­na­tion is encouraged.

Dia­log­i­cal lead­er­ship works on the ques­tion of how as many employ­ees of a com­pa­ny or orga­ni­za­tion as pos­si­ble can get into an indi­vid­ual entre­pre­neur­ial dis­po­si­tion and how they can work togeth­er pro­duc­tive­ly from such a disposition.

Karl-Mar­tin Dietz: Jed­er Men­sch ein Unternehmer. Grundzüge ein­er dial­o­gis­chen Kultur.

Dia­log­i­cal lead­er­ship clear­ly means the encounter of adults on par with one anoth­er, as it is also clear­ly anchored in the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship. The ori­en­ta­tion towards the boss turns into an ori­en­ta­tion towards the cause and the cus­tomer. The point is to act as it is right, appro­pri­ate and mean­ing­ful in the sit­u­a­tion and not because and how the boss wants it. This requires the will and abil­i­ty to lead one­self and requires a new way of work­ing togeth­er. The fol­low­ing core ques­tions of the Dia­log­i­cal Cul­ture pro­vide a good frame­work for ori­en­ta­tion. (Source: Dia­log­i­cal Lead­er­ship | Dia­log­i­cal Cul­ture):

  • Humankind: How can the dig­ni­ty of the (sin­gle) per­son be kept at a high lev­el? How can the oth­ers fos­ter the devel­op­ment of the individual?
  • The Giv­en Sit­u­a­tion: How can each indi­vid­ual obtain a view of the whole? How does the com­mon whole emerge out of the inde­pen­dence of the individual?
  • The Future: How can the cre­ativ­i­ty of as many employ­ees as pos­si­ble be stim­u­lat­ed? How can the indi­vid­u­al’s orig­i­nal­i­ty be inte­grat­ed into the future of collaboration?
  • The Action: How can as many employ­ees as pos­si­ble become proac­tive? How can joint action be achieved by indi­vid­ual accountability?

It is there­fore the task of lead­er­ship to design the fol­low­ing four process­es indi­vid­u­al­ly for the peo­ple and the orga­ni­za­tion in order to enable inde­pen­dence in the sense of the whole (Source: Dia­log­i­cal Lead­er­ship | Dia­log­i­cal Cul­ture):

  • Indi­vid­ual encoun­ters in regard to rela­tions between peo­ple. Tak­ing an inter­est in an indi­vid­ual as opposed to prac­tic­ing role behav­ior or exploita­tion of others.
  • Trans­paren­cy in regard to the giv­en sit­u­a­tion.Inde­pen­dent pow­er of judg­ment of the indi­vid­ual instead of pow­er bestow­ing knowl­edge or dic­ta­tor­ship of opinion.
  • Con­sult­ing and idea devel­op­ment in regard to the future. Cre­ativ­i­ty instead of tra­di­tion and struc­tur­al standards.
  • Deci­sive­ness in regard to actu­al actions. Act­ing on one‘s own ini­tia­tive instead of out of act­ing for the sake of self-real­iza­tion or on behalf of anoth­er person.

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By Marcus Raitner

Hi, I'm Marcus. I'm convinced that elephants can dance. Therefore, I accompany organizations on their way towards a more agile way of working. Since 2010 I regularly write about leadership, digitization, new work, agility, and much more in this blog. More about me.

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