Many researchers have been busy trying to figure out the specifics of a successful leadership culture. Unfortunately, the classic leadership culture analyzes only examined the behavior of leaders in the leadership process. Behind this is a model of thinking in which the boss is to blame for everything: the motivation of his employees as well as the prosperity and ruin of the entire company. The illusion was created that we only have to exchange the “pinstriped rivets” so that all problems resolve themselves. The influence of the leader was presupposed as determinant, excusing the employees in their victim role.
How employees deal with their bosses
Modern leadership theorists like Niklas Luhmann or Oswald Neuberger have long since contradicted these assumptions. They assume a systemic connection between the leader and the leader: both are in a network of mutual dependencies. Everyone influences and is influenced. The concept of leadership, which can only be top-down, is widespread but still wrong. Above all, the basis of the employees’ power is their expert know-how, which the manager depends on when making decisions.
In a successful leadership process not only the leaders have to do something different or better, but also the employees. If the German executives perform poorly in an international comparison, then this also has something to do with how the German employees deal with their executives.
Employees’ contribution to leadership success has so far been neglected and underestimated in leadership culture analyzes. The study by the team of consultants Dollinger breaks new ground here, focusing primarily on the attitudes and behaviors of the led. The cultural differences were interpreted as a function of the economic indicators of the companies surveyed, such as sales, profits and staff numbers.
Four theses for successful leadership culture
Although the number of companies surveyed is not yet sufficient to draw generally valid conclusions, it does give the following theses:
1. In successful companies, employees provide their supervisors with the acceptance, appreciation and loyalty that they themselves expect of them.
2. There is a climate of openness in successful companies, and employees share critical opinions with their supervisor.
3. In successful companies, employees do not feel powerless over their supervisor, but skillfully use their power to influence.
4. In successful companies, employees feel responsible for their supervisor’s decisions.
The most striking survey results from the cultural analysis of two medium-sized companies from the metalworking industry (each 800 employees three years ago) are now presented as examples.
While one company tripled its revenue in the last three years and doubled its workforce and earnings, the other had stagnating sales, a small increase in profits and a 15 percent reduction in headcount.
When analyzing the attitudes and behavior patterns of the employees of the two companies in dealing with their superiors, company-specific differences actually emerged in the following four areas:
1. the acceptance, appreciation and loyalty of employees to their superiors,
2. openness and mutual trust between employee and boss.
3. in the perception of influence from bottom to top.
4. The degree to which employees feel responsible for their supervisor’s decisions.
Culture and creativity as a regional economic factor
Culture and creativity are increasingly considered important for the development of regions and economies. On the one hand, these factors have an influence on the innovative capacity of regions and companies, and on the other, the cultural and creative industries create jobs as a new industry. In Anglo-Saxon countries, “cultural industries” as well as the so-called “creative class” have long been in the focus of regional policy. This development has spilled over to Germany with a certain delay, which is reflected in many relevant programs, tenders and competitions: In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, a competition was initiated by the Ministry of Economics, SMEs and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia with the aim to promote the best ideas for cultural and creative industries. Also at federal level, the field is seen as forward-looking. For example, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is trying to use the tender and the “Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft Initiative of the Federal Government” behind it to develop positive future perspectives for the new industry, exploit its competitiveness for the region and develop work potential.
The intended effects of these programs are diverse, but are not usually clearly defined or delineated. Culture and creativity as an economic factor are vague terms and often lead to a generalization, the risk of not properly exploiting existing potential and resorting there to cultural and creative industries, where actually other strengths and economic factors are in demand (Grote Westrick / Rehfeld 2006). The undifferentiated approach, which is linked to diffuse goals and expectations, is partly due to the lack of clarity about the terminology of culture and creativity.
Therefore, this article tries to draw attention to the fact that cultural and creative industries on the one hand and a creative milieu in regions on the other can influence each other, but in principle cover different areas. The following chapter divides and describes the terms. Chapter three describes the associated implications. The recognition that regional cultures and corporate cultures have a reciprocal influence and shape regional competitiveness is emphasized in Chapter Four, in which a relevant European research project is described.