Manager, when is the last time you asked: How can I help?
There is a lot of talk these days about the change in management, but I’ve heard less talk about how this takes place in practice. It feels as if the change in management is something akin to the enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions – a change forgotten for the lack of routines and because the structures and people around you remain unchanged. The entire system must change. Everyone must be on the same page and endure the discomfort of the change.
So how can an individual manager change in that role and get others to change with them, in the same direction? I believe that as long as you do things from the heart, in accordance with your own values, and have the courage to boldly challenge old ways of working, you can engender the same enthusiasm in others. At this point, the pains and downswings inherent in a change no longer halt the momentum, but at most only slow it down. This requires courage, putting yourself on the line, becoming visible and having the guts to challenge your own limits. What’s especially important is the ability to answer the question “Why?”, because when confronted with battle fatigue and difficult decisions, you must be able to rely on values and the significance of the change – the bigger picture.
I can’t resist this chance of bringing up NBC’s TV series New Amsterdam, available for streaming on Netflix. It has managed to glue me to the screen this summer, naturally thanks to skilful storytelling and a wide range of emotions, but particularly because it offers excellent lessons in leadership. If you’re not interested in spending your time by the screen, I’ll summarise what the series has taught me about values-based leadership. About leadership that does not leave you cold and inspires everyone to do whatever they can for the team and the customer.
THE FIRST QUESTION IS ALWAYS: HOW CAN I HELP?
It is the manager’s first and foremost duty to enable the success of their team and to trust in their team knowing what they need to succeed. If you receive a convincing response to this question, make sure that the requested help is provided. Trust in the judgement of the person asking for help.
THROW YOURSELF IN YOUR WORK, A HUNDRED PER CENT.
The very first thing you should do is to get to know yourself and your own values: who are you and why do you love your job? What are the values you can rely on and who are the customers for whom you, as an organisation, exist?
When you reach the point where you are on the front lines in an emergency, dive down the deep end in the face of uncertainty and ask questions tirelessly when you really want to understand, that is when you can consider yourself well on the way to true values-based leadership. Miracles start to happen when you realise that your team is following your example.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. ALWAYS.
As a manager, it is your duty to delegate responsibility, but also to take responsibility when something goes awry. You’ve selected your team and every failure is an opportunity to do things better. When it comes to a customer’s interests, do not compromise on finding a way to do things better in the future.
CUT THE CRAP.
It is your job to be honest to the bone, completely transparent and authentic. Political games and partial optimisation shift the focus away from the customer, and you will not have the time to be on the front lines making decisions that, at their best, save lives.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO STEP OUT THE DOOR.
Reality is not in your bubble, but outside it. Step out the door and get to know your surroundings. Work in cooperation and make innovations in the interests of your customer with people already close to the customer.
A manager’s greatest weapon in this story is their heart and other people who have watched the series are sure to find plenty of other things in it from which we can learn. In the end, even a great leader is only a small part of a bigger whole, an ecosystem, and the circle of life. With a big heart, a manager can nevertheless make their own mark on this world, together with their team.
Leadership takes place in cooperation and interaction with the personnel, customers, owners, investors and stakeholders – by enabling the forging of trust and joint success. We help organisations build businesses which are productive, responsible and sustainable in a new way, together with the entire ecosystem. To us, inclusive strategy work, management in a new age and communal well-being at work are the cornerstones of building an inspiring culture of cooperation.