Are German managers tired of leadership?
Around a third of managers in Germany feel overworked and insecure. This is shown by a recent study conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung in cooperation with the Rheinhard Mohn Institute for Corporate Management (RMI) at the University of Witten/Herdecke, in which around 1,000 executives from upper, middle and lower management participated. Since doubts about leadership have been shown to be associated with a lower leadership impact, many companies consequently give away valuable potential. But what are the reasons behind the self-doubt of German managers and how can it be remedied?
The study examined many different factors that promote leadership doubt. The analysis showed that neither differences between genders nor differences between industries could be identified. However, significant differences are observed in age. Thus, it seems obvious at first that younger executives – due to their limited experience – are subject to significantly more self-doubt than older executives. This can be an explanatory approach, but it is dangerous to assume that the problem will solve itself with increasing professional experience.
Moreover, over time, it is by no means a selection process in which only the leader who is not subject to self-doubt remains. On the contrary, leadership doubts are omnipresent at all hierarchical levels of German companies and are not a reliable sign of a lack of leadership aptitude, but rather the consequence of poor leadership conditions. With the image of leadership that is often so heroic, it is rarely seen that leaders not only need to motivate others, but equally need to experience motivating and supporting factors in their leadership roles. Insecure and doubtful managers therefore increasingly suffer from a lack of clarity, large bureaucracies and perceive their employees as listless and dissatisfied.
In order to support managers in their leadership role, this is precisely where measures must be taken. The corporate strategy as well as the goals and tasks of the managers should be communicated transparently and be clear. Unnecessary bureaucracy should be avoided and a trusting and appreciative corporate culture created. Corporate values should also be lived and a supportive and motivating cooperation should be promoted. In addition, leadership doubts can be addressed particularly in the context of development discussions. Here, however, individual training or coaching should not be the only option. Rather, there is a need for cross-hierarchical training measures that jointly affirm managers in their leadership role and increase the cohesion of the management team and identification with the company in the long term.
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