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Radical Leadership

AutorReinhard K. Sprenger
VerlagCampus Verlag
Seitenanzahl300 Seiten
Preis20,99 EUR
In his search for what is really crucial in leadership, Reinhard K. Sprenger decided to gain some practical experience once again. For a period of three and a half years he assumed operational responsibility in the executive committee of a company which generates a turnover of approximately 21 billion euro in almost eighty countries. He wished to experience the daily routine of management again, separate the wheat from the chaff and the indispensible from the merely desirable.

Dr. Reinhard K. Sprenger ranks as one of the most distinguished management consultants in Germany. Born in Essen in 1953, he now lives near Zürich and in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Among his many clients are numerous international companies and almost all of the 100 Dax-listed companies. Nearly all of his books have become bestsellers and are obtainable in many languages.

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Horizontale Tabs


What this book is not about

If you enter the word 'management' in the search engine of a well-known mail-order bookshop, guess how many books would be shown? Five thousand? Fifty thousand?

In actual fact, it would be more than five hundred thou-sand. Just imagine book shelves for more than half a mil-lion books! Everything on this subject must have been said already, which raises the question: why on earth should you bother to read this book at all? The first answer is: be-cause it omits a lot.

For that reason, it is essential to state at the very begin-ning what this book is not about. It is not about a new lead-ership mode. Many authors only address specific aspects of managerial work and do so in great detail - but the overall picture remains blurred. A large number of books (includ-ing my early works) also lay claim to relatively abstract aspects of value in order to criticize management structures which actually exist for the sake of what ought to be. There-fore you will not find a whole collection of anecdotes, no examples of excellent management and no limitless range of strategies to be learned and implemented. Nor do I speculate on a possible connection between management styles, personality traits and managerial success. No dis-tinction is made between leadership and management. I assume that most managers interact with their employees, i.e. lead and that most staff at managerial level also carry out tool-based administrative tasks, in other words, manage. Moreover, a leader who possesses no management skills will soon run out of steam; a manager with no leadership skills lacks direction. At the same time I do not distinguish between staff orientation and task orientation. In practice this distinction is artificial - both are necessary.

What exactly is this book about then?

In order to answer this question I would like to give a few biographical details. In my search for what is really crucial in leadership, I decided to gain some practical experience once again. For a period of three and a half years I assumed op-erational responsibility in the executive committee of a company which generates a turnover of approximately 21 billion euro in almost eighty countries. I wished to experi-ence the daily routine of management again, separate the wheat from the chaff and the indispensible from the merely desirable.

I learned much about what executives do, but more than that, I learned what they do not do; what they in fact left out - because they considered it to be irrelevant or they simply did not wish to or were unable to do it. This, in turn, helped me to concentrate on the essentials.

At the same time I realized more and more that the ac-tual tasks to be performed are not discussed by the execu-tives but are taken for granted: 'It isn't necessary for me to take care of these, as well - after all I am already an execu-tive because my boss thinks I am equal to the tasks.' They do not see their actions in a wider context; they just 'man-age,' which means that they muddle through. Thinking about what they are doing is only disruptive. And even if they do reflect on their actions, then this is only in connec-tion with HOW, with adjectives such as 'co-operative,' 'dialogic' or even 'transforming'- but not with WHAT, whereby this WHAT is by no means obvious. In fact, it meets with astonishment when it is mentioned. These are not trifles which can be ignored. On the contrary! It is pre-cisely this blind spot in most executives which I wish to address. Therefore: leadership is the answer - what was that question you asked? Can you repeat it?

At the same time I take the following situation as a start-ing point: a group of people have got together for a specific purpose. It does not take long before someone establishes himself as the leader and depending on the size of the group and how long it has been in existence, leadership structures also evolve. Why? What are the 'reasons' for leadership, reasons which arise from facts and not from arbitrary objectives? What is the problem to which leader-ship is the answer?

I am convinced that the tasks involved in leadership are universals - they will still be the same in many hundreds of years. After all, leadership has always existed - ever since people have lived in groups. Nor can I imagine the new world of networks and heterarchies without leadership. On the contrary: people long for nothing more than a powerful idea of leadership and a person who personifies this. For that reason we can speak of an 'archaeo', a first principle, on which 'archaeo-logy' focuses and explores. In any case, it seems to me that the search for sound 'reasons' for lead-ership even in times of contingency and the absence of the final reason has not been called off.

I would, therefore, like to get to the bottom of leadership on the basis of archaeology and offer examples of its practi-cal application. And although the choice, of course, is con-nected to an unavoidable factor of subjectivity, it is by no means arbitrary but lays claim to the status of necessity - for that is the basic experience in the history of humanity where in the end so little changes and yet where almost everything has changed.

At the same time, anyone speaking of 'radical leader-ship' has to expect to be misunderstood. In this country and in times of politically correct ambiguity, it is possible to be anything you like, but one thing you may not be and that is radical. This proviso, however, fails to recognize the origin of the word: the Latin word 'radix' means 'the root'. In the case of radical leadership it is a question of the root of leadership - in which it is firmly grounded and from which it develops. An executive who really wishes to make changes within a company has to start at the root. The in-numerable initiatives for change fail because they - to stick to the imagery - remain on the surface and do not get down to grass roots. They would succeed if they were rooted in the core tasks of leadership.

Human beings within the organization

When I ask: 'What is the problem to which leadership is the answer?' I am deliberately speaking of leadership - and I do not just mean executives. Leadership is more than mere action by individuals. Leadership also finds expres-sion in structures, instruments and institutions - in other words in organization. No one ever starts right at the very beginning. Something already exists and it is into this that you step and take from there.

This book is to convey the strength of the ego in the indi-vidual and the management of structures by the organiza-tion. In fact, it is not possible to make either of these disap-pear entirely (not even in a totalitarian system). I wish to do justice to both aspects because I am convinced that they are not mutually exclusive and that the stand taken in defence of the one or the other is artificial.

Consequently, I am going to outline, first of all, the insti-tutional framework as a requirement for leadership with respect to each of the core tasks of leadership and in a sec-ond step define the individual attributes which are suitable for the fulfilment of these management tasks.

What's new?

The experienced reader will ask me: Is there anything new in your book? Permit me to answer with a question: When has anything new ever been written? It wouldn't be the first time that I considered an idea to be new and then I read something similar or even identical in some old book. Genuine originality is extremely rare. It is not the content but the choice of words and the form of the presentation which make it appear original.

Nevertheless, in reply to the question about something new: Naturally I am following up on what I have already expressed in earlier books. However, it must be said: never before has there been a book which aims to delineate the core tasks of leadership archaeologically. There has never been a book which gives a comprehensive account of the timeless and essential aspects of leadership by imparting systemic guidelines and individual attributes. Therefore, anyone using this book as a basis for leadership will be a radical leader because he knows the roots of leadership. There-fore, I hope that what I write will be a seed which forms new roots.

Blick ins Buch
What exactly is this book about then?13
Human beings within the organization15
What’s new?16
Why leadership?18
The purpose of leadership18
That is not what you are being paid for20
Success – What is that?22
Does “good” leadership exist?24
Companies or churches?25
There are only two types of leadership – successful and unsuccessful27
What is leadership?29
Leadership as an incidental activity29
Leadership as a label30
In observation, who is observing who?32
What shapes leadership behavior?36
Leadership – more than just being an executive36
The institution and the individual38
Good people? Or appropriate people?41
Work within the system and work on the system43
The manager: hero or victim?44
The system has a face47
How can leadership effect change?48
One for all and all for one52
A little natural history52
First core task: Organizing co-operation52
Co-operation as the core of the company54
What obstructs co-operation?56
The institution58
What enables co-operation58
The structure of problems60
Problems and objectives60
What can be done?63
Co-operation-supporting systems69
Co-operation and competition70
Target systems obstruct co-operation71
What can be done?73
Small units80
Spatial proximity83
Altering the title86
The consequence for the selection of personnel89
What can be done?90
The individual93
The otherness of the other93
When the other cannot co-operate94
Optimizing others96
Commitment to co-operation100
What are transaction costs?104
Second core task: Lowering transaction costs104
From competitor to co-operation partner106
Internal markets109
Checking planning and target agreements114
Increasing staff loyalty reducing fluctuation119
Customer orientation121
Vertical or horizontal?123
What can be done?126
Culture of trust128
Just do it!131
The individual133
Seeing the invisible134
“Approaching the other“136
Risk awareness and self-confidence139
A plethora of possibilities144
Third core task: Resolving conflicts144
Ensuring decidability146
Decision or choice?147
“Right“ decisions151
Goal conflicts and value conflicts153
The institution155
Dispensing with principles155
Putting up with contradictions161
Away from morality and towards the customer163
The individual168
Leadership – the art of ‘as-if’168
Tolerating ambiguities174
Equanimity – the passion of balance176
Behavior when conflicts arise178
Decision-making with Sherlock Holmes’ rule180
General Remarks182
Forth core task: Ensuring sustainability182
We reactionaries183
The success trap185
Recipes for success: cause, effect and the problem of the future187
Blind to context or: Are successes transferable?189
Every success has its own story189
Complex and contingent, not just complicated191
What follows?192
After the crisis is before the crisis193
Why resilience is gaining in importance196
The management’s assignment to disturb198
The tension between sustainability and transaction costs200
The institution202
Tents instead of palaces202
Recognizing weak signals206
Thinking from the point of view of the future209
Project management211
Decentralized is stronger213
Mid-range planning214
Creating redundancies215
The individual216
Awareness of opportunities and other requirements217
Recruiting the future220
Taking the offensive more often223
Interrupting yourself225
Developing trust in a common future228
Fifth core task: Leading staff232
Find the right staff!233
Who are we looking for?234
How do you recognize the best?239
Challenge them!245
What drives us on245
Being allowed to prove yourself247
Three groups of employees248
Talk to each other frequently!251
Contact instead of praise251
Taking time253
Talking instead of writing254
“… as yourself”256
Trust them!257
Why trust?257
What is trust?259
Creating trust260
Destroying trust262
Trust creates entrepreneurship263
Offer a good and fair salary!265
Get out of the way!268
Leadership to self-leadership268
What is to be done?273
Make your contribution!275

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