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Are you a Manager or a Leader?

Knowing this is the key to your success as an executive.

by Kurt Fuchsenthaler
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Knowing this is the key to your success as an executive.
Our friend Christian is the managing director of a medium-sized company, in his mid-50s and works at least 60 hours a week. His wife is worried about his health and the children whine that he has far too little time for them. He doesn't like his high blood pressure and his abdominal base at all, but unfortunately he has no time for sports or hobbies.

Christian is aware that he is far too involved in the day-to-day business. In his opinion a managing director has to be fully involved in the day-to-day operational business. This allows him to make decisions quickly and spontaneously, it saves time and limits the risk. And besides, customers love to be personally looked after by the company top management.

When we ask Christian about his typical working day, he describes things we hear from many executives: Rushing from appointment to appointment, the feeling of being externally controlled, having no time and (inner) peace for strategic work and long-term problem solving. Almost all the time and energy is spent on "fighting fires".

As coaches, we naturally jump at the chance and recommend Christian to conduct a survey with his executives and employees.
[Remark: Only carry out such a survey if you are really willing to change something. Only if surveys are followed by concrete results will you strengthen the confidence of executives and employees]
Here are the most frequent statements of the survey - Christian was surprised, he would have assessed it differently
[Remark: We encounter this discrepancy quite often]:
A single case? Unfortunately not.
What's wrong?
  1. Over generations, executives have learned strategies that worked well in the past, but have now reached their limits in today's fast-changing world. In times of crisis, their primary strategy still is to cut costs and optimize processes. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. The problem is rather that they do not consider the company's most important capital as an investment, but as a cost factor: The people. This means that immense potential often remains unused.

  2. Many managers do not care at all, or too little, about what their employees think of them and how they feel. What do supervisors really know about their employees' motivation, their attitude towards their work, the company and the team?

  3. Entrepreneurs and top managers are often not clear about their own task and role in the company. As a result, they are often way too heavily involved in the operational business. They do not give high priority to the need to grow the people and with them the company. However, this is the prerequisite for efficient delegation.

  4. Long-term strategic orientation and securing the future of the company, as well as the development of visions and their consistent communication, are given way too little attention. Instead of acting in a goal-oriented and forward-looking manner, the only thing that can be done is to react to the circumstances. The solution is to differentiate between management and leadership. More on this below. The fatal thing is that most entrepreneurs and top managers are strongly convinced to act and always have full control.
This is not a solid basis for successfully dealing with the rapid changes of todays world. Many methods that have been used up to now produce results that are way too small, even when used with great effort. It is like a thin electrick wire through which more and more power is sent. At a certain level, the wire starts to glow, but at the end of the wire there is less power.

Transferred to businesses, this means: the burden for all people increases, they rub themselves out, many become demotivated in the long run and some even become ill - but the results do not improve significantly.
How well do you know your employees?
When looking at the younger generations, it becomes clear that people in companies need to be led in a different way. Everyone has heard that generations Y and Z have different expectations and demands on their employers. But what is often forgotten in the discussion: many employees of the older generations also share these demands.

To young and older employees applies the same: they all tick differently, have different motivators and want to apply their individual talents and strengths.

For this to succeed, entrepreneurs and executives need to know themselves in detail, and their employees as well, and they need to know how everybody is behaving in certain situations, how everybody can be individually motivated and what talents everybody bring to the table.

Individually led and in the appropriate position in a team, most people automatically perform better. The following applies in particular to team performance: It becomes far greater than the sum of individual performances.
What is the position of managers and leaders in this process?
Both are indispensable for the business performance.

Successful companies practice clear guidance in the sense of leadership and a management that translates the leadership guidelines into efficient processes. This is becoming increasingly important, especially in changing economic phases. While managers can play their strenghts in phases of steady business development, powerful leaders are needed especially in times of crisis and rapid change.
However, true leader personalities are statistically hard to find. And it is simply not enough for managers to perform leadership tasks quasi on the side. Leadership requires not only a completely different mindset, but also different soft skills.

Based on effective measurement and training methods manager and leader personalities can be identified reliably, key positions can be filled in the best possible way and efficient winning teams can be built. This is the key to a corporate culture in which people trust each other, enjoy working in the company for the long term, remain healthy and energetic and perform at their best.

How do you think on this topic? Just feel free to contact us!

PS: Share this article with a friend, colleague or supervisor who could benefit from this information.
We change lives -
in businesses, too.

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