Category: Leadership

On the Wise Use of Our Insultingly Short Lifespan

There is an absurd­ly wide gap between the human capac­i­ty to make many grand plans and the life­time avail­able to real­ize them. This brevi­ty of life makes rig­or­ous pri­or­i­ti­za­tion cen­tral to all time man­age­ment and, at the same time, makes every choice painful­ly sig­nif­i­cant. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in our des­per­a­tion, we tend to squeeze so much into our day until we are final­ly suf­fi­cient­ly over­loaded to say no with a clear conscience.

The Art of Simplification

Per­fec­tion is achieved not when there is noth­ing more to add but when there is noth­ing left to take away. This stan­dard, craft­ed by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, sug­gests some poten­tial for improve­ment in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and large cor­po­ra­tions. But what is the rea­son that the rules are becom­ing more and more and the process­es more and more com­pli­cat­ed? Per­haps, in the end, it is sim­ply due to our ten­den­cy to seek solu­tions by adding rather than solv­ing the prob­lem by omit­ting, as demon­strat­ed in recent research.

Hybrid working: A matter of time, not location

Com­pa­nies are cur­rent­ly grap­pling with the ques­tion of how much their employ­ees should work in the office and how much home office or remote work­ing should be allowed. After the expe­ri­ence of the last two years of the Coro­na pan­dem­ic, the desire to com­bine the best of home and office in hybrid forms of work­ing is laud­able. Still, it should not be reduced to the ques­tion of the pos­si­ble and per­mit­ted place of work. In essence, it is more about flex­i­bil­i­ty in terms of time than location.

How the Pandemic Disrupted the World of Work

Strokes of fate often cause peo­ple to pause and reflect on their own lives, fol­lowed by a reori­en­ta­tion. Due to the Coro­na pan­dem­ic, many employ­ees are now ask­ing them­selves how they want to work in the future. Their answer is already emerg­ing in the USA as the “Great Res­ig­na­tion.” Although this wave is flat­ter in Ger­many, it is still rea­son enough to think about the cru­cial role of lead­er­ship in the post-pan­dem­ic age.

He Who Says A Does Not Have to Say B

When real­i­ty con­tra­dicts our beliefs and world­views, we have sev­er­al ways to resolve this cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance. Most peo­ple tend to cre­ative­ly rein­ter­pret real­i­ty to fit the expe­ri­ences into their men­tal mod­el pic­ture. Yet, it is more help­ful to use the dis­crep­an­cies as a source of insight and adjust one’s world­view, espe­cial­ly for lead­ers whose world­views and beliefs affect many others.

The Mechanisms of Fear

Ini­tial­ly, the fear of Coro­na was sup­posed to unite the peo­ple in the joint fight against the pan­dem­ic. This fear is increas­ing­ly turn­ing into hatred, agi­ta­tion, and sep­a­ra­tion. It is time for us to con­front this cor­ro­sive ten­den­cy with deter­mi­na­tion and unity.

The Art of Getting the Right Things Done

Time is our scarcest resource. It runs out irre­triev­ably. Already the ancient Romans gave the advice: Carpe diem! In the age of knowl­edge work with a thou­sand pos­si­bil­i­ties and just as many dis­trac­tions, how­ev­er, this is eas­i­er said than done. In about twen­ty years of knowl­edge work, I have tried out a few things and learned a lot about how to orga­nize myself well.

On the Cognitive Dissonance of Modern Leadership in Traditional Organizations

To have devel­oped a coher­ent mod­ern lead­er­ship atti­tude is one thing. How­ev­er, to endure the ten­sion between this aspi­ra­tion and the sober­ing real­i­ty of every­day lead­er­ship in most­ly more tra­di­tion­al struc­tures is some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. In many cas­es, this ten­sion, known from social psy­chol­o­gy as cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance, can only be resolved by sac­ri­fic­ing one’s own aspi­ra­tions. But there are also oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties than will­ing­ly sub­mit­ting to one’s fate.

Three Inspiring Stories on New Leadership

What we can learn from the sug­ar con­sump­tion of Gand­hi, from Net­flix’s sur­pris­ing resem­blance to a nuclear sub­ma­rine, and from the fright­en­ing team dynam­ics of super chick­ens about new lead­er­ship. On the occa­sion of the X‑Conference 2020 I tell my three favorite sto­ries about role mod­els, respon­si­bil­i­ty and trust — also as video for lis­ten­ing, think­ing and imitating.

Personal Responsibility Instead of Obedience

Lone­ly Christ­mas? How does the Bavar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Markus Söder actu­al­ly talk to us? I’m sick of being admon­ished like a child, threat­ened and occa­sion­al­ly praised. With this ongo­ing infan­tiliza­tion of mature cit­i­zens, the gov­ern­ment is under­min­ing the self-orga­ni­za­tion and per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty that we urgent­ly need for a sus­tain­able con­tain­ment of the pandemic.

Creatures of Habit

Chang­ing behav­ior and habits is often tedious. The spir­it is will­ing, but the flesh is weak, it is said. And that is exact­ly where the prob­lem lies. Behav­ioral change is not only a ques­tion of will and moti­va­tion, but can be strate­gi­cal­ly bet­ter addressed with a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed under­stand­ing of human behav­ior. The behav­ioral mod­el of B.J. Fogg pro­vides the basis for this.

On Top of Mount Stupid

Entire orga­ni­za­tions also suf­fer from the Dun­ning-Kruger effect. After the first steps of trans­for­ma­tion and the first insights, they are stuck at the peak of “Mount Stu­pid”, where they enjoy all kinds of car­go cult gross­ly over­es­ti­mat­ing what they have already achieved.

Digital Decluttering — Get Out of the Rabbit Hole

Thir­ty days with­out social media apps on my smart­phone. Thir­ty days of not enjoy­ing likes on the side and quick­ly answer­ing a com­ment. Why should I do some­thing like that? To redis­cov­er the impor­tant moments of idling, for exam­ple. And gen­er­al­ly for a more mind­ful use of my atten­tion. A report about the escape from the rab­bit hole of the atten­tion industry.

Caution. Future.

How do peo­ple cope with change? In Vir­ginia Satir’s Change Mod­el, the phase of chaos and uncer­tain­ty is cru­cial. This is where the seed for the new and bet­ter sta­tus quo lies, pro­vid­ed that it is pos­si­ble to exper­i­ment with the new and inte­grate it prof­itably on the basis of a feel­ing of psy­cho­log­i­cal safe­ty. This can be well observed at the moment with the top­ic of the home office. 

Leading with Trust

Trust is the foun­da­tion of mod­ern lead­er­ship. Vol­un­tar­i­ly and with all our heart we only fol­low whom we trust. Frances Frei and Anne Mor­riss describe three dri­vers for trust: log­ic, authen­tic­i­ty and empathy. 

Leadership Creates Safety

Trust and coop­er­a­tion emerge in a cli­mate of psy­cho­log­i­cal safe­ty. Where, con­verse­ly, com­pe­ti­tion and fear have been the pre­dom­i­nant themes, strong uni­ty can­not be expect­ed in a crisis.

The Five Pillars of Well-Being

In which envi­ron­ment do peo­ple flour­ish and what makes them with­er? And what essen­tial cat­e­gories are there, any­way, to influ­ence this process. Where can lead­er­ship exert its influ­ence? The PERMA mod­el by psy­chol­o­gist Mar­tin Selig­man offers some very good answers.

Purpose and Trust in Crisis

Remote work and lead­er­ship at a dis­tance is based on pur­pose and trust. Where these are miss­ing, the coro­na cri­sis becomes a cri­sis of pur­pose and trust. One can learn from this — or reboot the pre­vi­ous oper­at­ing sys­tem of the orga­ni­za­tion as quick­ly as possible.

Setting the Right Course in Times of Crisis

Is this art, or does it need clear­ing away? The cri­sis is lead­ing to con­sol­i­da­tion in many places. Short-term earn­ings today are inevitably gain­ing the upper hand over spec­u­la­tive ideas for the day after tomor­row. The art of ambidex­ter­i­ty, how­ev­er, can­not be cleared away for this very rea­son! Diver­si­ty and dis­sent are espe­cial­ly impor­tant now to find the right balance. 

Video Conferencing Is Not a Solution Either

Now that so many peo­ple are work­ing at home, the ques­tion aris­es how to work togeth­er well remote­ly. Spa­tial­ly dis­trib­uted col­lab­o­ra­tion does not only hap­pen through video con­fer­enc­ing, but also and pri­mar­i­ly requires writ­ten and asyn­chro­nous communication.

Leadership is Relationship

Lead­er­ship takes place in and through rela­tion­ships — lead­er­ship is rela­tion­ship. We deter­mine whether these are filled with fear or with equal dig­ni­ty, the counter-pro­pos­al to the author­i­tar­i­an edu­ca­tion of the Dan­ish fam­i­ly ther­a­pist Jes­per Juul, which can very well be trans­ferred to oth­er lead­er­ship relationships.

Everyday Sabotage

Are you tired of end­less meet­ings and a nev­er-end­ing cycle of office life? The Sim­ple Sab­o­tage Field Man­u­al, pub­lished by the Office of Strate­gic Ser­vices (pre­de­ces­sor of the CIA) in 1944, reveals tac­tics for under­min­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and morale in orga­ni­za­tions. Even today, these tac­tics are alarm­ing­ly relevant.

The Crux of Meetings

Just like T., the pro­tag­o­nist in last week’s frag­ment of my nov­el “On the Handrail into the Deci­­sion-Mak­ing Cir­cle”, many peo­ple are con­front­ed with the same sit­u­a­tion several…

Complex or Complicated?

The naive and intu­itive use of lan­guage some­times mix­es and over­lays things that should be clear­ly dis­tin­guished. Pop­u­lar among edi­tors are, for exam­ple, the terms appar­ent­ly and seemingly.…