May 2023

Leadership is responsibility for people: My contribution as a guest lecturer in strategic management

I think it is very important to share professional experiences. Ideally, it provides impetus and inspiration for careers and life paths. I’m especially happy when I reach not just one person, but an entire lecture hall, which is why I always enjoy teaching as a guest lecturer at various colleges and universities. This late summer, I had a digital assignment in the Gold City; Pforzheim University had asked me to contribute to Professor Kai Alexander Saldsieder’s lecture series “Strategic Management”.

Everyday management in practice

My task as guest lecturer was to introduce the students to the different aspects of leadership and to give some tips from my leadership experience. One thing to start with: Leadership means more than the boss’s chair and privileges; leadership is responsibility for people. Leading people and working with them means valuing them professionally and personally and taking them seriously. That is the basis of my understanding of leadership.

Everything new in the first management assignment: This applies to both sides

New managers should always keep one thing in mind; They usually don’t know their employees yet, and the same applies vice versa! An open-minded, curious approach to the team is therefore the be-all and end-all. It is always worthwhile to observe carefully, listen attentively and invest trust in order to get a picture of the people.

At the same time, it also helps to give employees a compass so that they can better assess the new boss. After all, you are the new person for them! Therefore, it should be clearly communicated what is particularly important to you and what is not possible at all.

 Appreciation creates value: What is important in leadership?

Leadership also means cooperation. It is therefore essential to recognize the professional expertise of employees and to delegate tasks to them. As a leader, you have the task of developing a vision. With the necessary structure, orientation and strategy, you ensure that the team can implement it together. Setting direction instead of micromanagement is a good guiding principle for this.

To this end, I recommend transparent decisions and regular feedback that is expressed in a clear, factual and appreciative manner. This helps to anchor values and establish a positive culture of discussion. Speaking of positive: In my experience, it is also important to radiate confidence and not let yourself get rattled, even when things get stormy.

Team player instead of soloist: What makes a good leader different

Leadership is not a solo fight; A boss does not stand alone on the summit of Mount Olympus and rule from above. Rather, he or she structures and organizes the dynamics, competencies and resources of his or her own team. Thus, the manager is more the center of a circle than the top of a pyramid.

This idea of togetherness should also be reflected away from technical and management tasks. My experience as a boss has taught me that interest in employees as people is essential. I have always taken these three tips to heart and recommend them to every other person with employee responsibilities:

  • Birthday, anniversary, wedding: A team member has a birthday, gets married or has a baby? Bosses need to have this on their radar and congratulate them. Honestly, friendly and authentically, of course.
  • Cultivate appreciation: A friendly thank-you message or a praise card creates a positive mood and ensures that good performance is honored instead of taken for granted.
  • Quality Time: If you want to lead people positively, you should invest some of your time. This can also be done away from the office, for example in joint excursions, workshops and activities in the fresh air. The first rule is to have fun, and then the team spirit is automatically strengthened!

I shared my values as a leader and my tips with the students and was still available for questions and answers after my input. I hope that I have inspired future bosses so that the employees of tomorrow will always enjoy coming to work. Anyone who wants to take on leadership tasks should take on this responsibility with joy and pass it on.

Pforzheim University also reported in German on my guest lecture: Hochschule Pforzheim – Zuhören, Verstehen, Führen – Leadership als Kernelement der Strategieumsetzung (