Employees are expected to perform -- no doubt about that. But how well do leaders make use of their competencies and behavior to create the ideal circumstances and fertile ground for optimal performance?
Unlike animals, human beings have successfully developed the capacity to think about what is not immediately going on around them and to contemplate events that happened in the past or might possibly happen in the future. While this capacity called imagination can be a blessing, it can be a curse at the same time.
Leading people is often seen as a side activity and taken for granted with some people being more talented than others, which is unfortunately still a widespread opinion in many organizations. Indeed, there are huge differences in the quality of leadership. But why is that?
The announcement of Swisscom CEO Carsten Schloter's suicide shook the media earlier this summer, followed by the suicide of Pierre Wauthier, CFO of the Zurich Insurance Group, only a few weeks later. For many people in leading positions, "lonely at the top" is not just a simple cliché, but rather a sad reality. A personal sparring partner can make a crucial difference.
A while ago, I had the opportunity to witness the demonstration of an avalanche airbag. The space created by the airbag can save lives in a situation that would otherwise bear the imminent risk of suffocation. I was immediately aware of the symbolism: Metaphorically speaking, our packed days and weeks are like avalanches, rolling over our heads and burying us underneath them. As in a real avalanche, the key lays in creating space.