If the boss is not the leader
I remember the example of a company of the automotive supply industry. I had a lot of talks with the CEO - it was about taking over a major contract in the field of organizational development - and I was surprised that we did not finish. One day the riddle broke.
The archetypical leader in the store was not the managing director, but a completely different one. I met him when I visited the works council. Large hall, two secretaries, royal appearance. The chairman of the works council.
The true king
He was the real boss in the ring. He ruled from the background and ultimately determined everything that happened in the company. Not only through direct influence - I had my job after talking to him - but above all because everyone knew that he had real power.
Everyone, including the CEO, was looking after him, waiting for his last word, or at least his approval. In the long run this proved to be not good for the company, they lost market shares. It was a strange constellation.
Who gives the values?
Similarly strange ended our search for the owner of the archetypical leader role in a medium-sized enterprise in east Westphalia. He was hanging on the wall. In an elegantly paneled room, the company founder, who had died a few years earlier, looked down on us from a curved frame as we discussed who presumably values.
He was it. We heard a lot of people in the company saying "What would the old boss have said about it". It was just in people's minds. Fortunately, this has changed over the years in the company. The leading role today is mostly lived by the woman, who according to the nomenclature she should also have, the managing director.
The most important task: meaning-making
Thus, we are concerned with the important question as to what constitutes the archetypical leadership role. What are their characteristics and qualities? The most important task of the archetypical leader is the foundation of meaning. This can happen in different ways.
Sometimes someone has a brilliant inspiration, like Jesus Christ with his Sermon on the Mount - if it comes from him. He is thus meaningful for a huge social system, Christianity, and that for thousands of years. Another bet Sense through his life, his role model, such as Nelson Mandela. In functioning families, it is the parents who lovingly convey meaning and values to the children.
How does successful meaning transfer work?
This is how guidance is done. So not by someone standing up and announcing that he is now leading or saying where it goes long. This is power exercise, but no guide in the archetypical sense. If a teacher succeeds in school, and I have been so fortunate enough to have such a teacher, I will have to follow him.
Successful mediation depends on the student's sense of being good, and making it their own. Then in front of the class suddenly an archetypical leader stands, and not just someone who makes any announcements and who wants to force obedience because of his office.
Leadership vs. exercise of power
Unfortunately, in the real world, under the label of leadership, we usually encounter something completely different. It sets standards, builds up pressure and control, devises compensation systems to increase performance, and develops threat scenarios.
But this is not a leadership but an exercise of power. Such a mechanism is not followed by men, but they are driven by it. This works and is very convenient for the guides. This is achieved by means of carcass obedience, the habitual behavior of human lemmings, or the compulsive straining of perfectionists.
The potential of the social system
However, one does not open up the entire potential of the social system. Guidance in the archetypic sense has two sides, which are closely related. There is, on the one hand, the mediation of meaning by a great idea, by example or loving guidance.
And on the other hand there is the active and voluntary following of the guided because they accept the meaning. This mechanism fulfills the archetypal role of the leader.
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