Authentic Leadership — Sparking Hope

Leadership begins with self-leadership. Only those who are self-sufficient instead of emulating others or an ideal can develop the potential of the people entrusted to them and awaken hope in them.

Only those who can lead them­selves can lead oth­ers. This state­ment of Father Anselm Grün has had a last­ing influ­ence on Bodo Janssen, as he writes in his book “Die stille Rev­o­lu­tion: Führen mit Sinn und Men­schlichkeit” (Ama­zon Affil­i­ate-Link). This week I had the extra­or­di­nary priv­i­lege to final­ly meet Father Anselm Grün per­son­al­ly and to expe­ri­ence first hand the full depth of this insight. 

Not only I did take away something from the meeting, but also Father Anselm Grün, namely the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership.
Not only I did take away some­thing from the meet­ing, but also Father Anselm Grün, name­ly the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Leadership.

Original Not Copy

Lead­ing one­self begins with know­ing one­self and accept­ing one­self in one’s unique being. But many peo­ple today increas­ing­ly feel that they are not good enough. They con­stant­ly com­pare them­selves and imi­tate oth­er peo­ple or pur­sue an abstract ide­al image. The unique orig­i­nal that we all once were becomes a pale copy. 

We are all born orig­i­nals — why is it so many of us die copies?

Edward Young

Those who live in the fear of not being enough need con­fir­ma­tion and admi­ra­tion from out­side. This is exact­ly why social media exert such an attrac­tion on peo­ple and there­by strength­ens this ten­den­cy to con­stant­ly com­pare one­self with oth­ers more and more. Who­ev­er leads out of this atti­tude will keep employ­ees small and depen­dent. Only those who have rec­og­nized and accept­ed the unique and authen­tic nature of their own per­son can envi­ous­ly and whole­heart­ed­ly unleash the unique poten­tial of the peo­ple entrust­ed to them and make oth­ers suc­cess­ful.

Inner Images

Besides this inner image of how we are and how we have to be, we car­ry many oth­er inner images with us more or less uncon­scious­ly. For exam­ple, we can see life as a strug­gle or as a mir­a­cle. We can see our work as a rat race and tread­mill or as a work­shop for pros­per­ous life. And we can see our employ­ees as unwill­ing to work or moti­vat­ed. These inner images, cre­at­ed through edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence, now deter­mine how we expe­ri­ence the world. We have the choice. 

The last of the human free­doms: to choose one’s atti­tude in any giv­en set of cir­cum­stances, to choose one’s own way.

Vik­tor Frankl

We can become aware of these inner images and we can replace them with bet­ter ones. Ide­al­ly with images that cor­re­spond to “life dreams” that we had as chil­dren. And to get clos­er to these again in a first step, it helps to ask: What did I play enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly with­out get­ting tired? If we then man­age to trans­fer these images to our work, we can give it a pro­found meaning.

Sparking Hope

For Father Anselm Grün, good lead­er­ship means to go to his work full of hope and to spark hope among the co-work­ers. For this, espe­cial­ly our inner images must speak a lan­guage of hope. To see life as a strug­gle and work as an inevitable rat race and annoy­ing evil, does not inspire much hope. But to see life as a mir­a­cle or play, and work as a place of encounter and indi­vid­ual devel­op­ment, has much more poten­tial for hope.

Have hopes, but nev­er have expec­ta­tions. Then you might expe­ri­ence mir­a­cles, but nev­er disappointments.

Franz von Assisi

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