Characteristics of Good Leadership

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Picture made by the winemaker Matthias Knebel — Premium winery Knebel at the Terrassenmosel, Germany

Surrounded by his best clients, he spoke in a calm and soft voice, standing in his own, old cellar: “ I am the king. Not the customer.” I will never forget this tingly, paradox moment, when Reinhard Heymann-Löwenstein said this sentence.

Let’s talk about leadership, about managers and their characters. I would like to show how much the personality of a person influences the companies’ atmosphere and success as well as the motivation of employees. Why does corporate culture depends on its managers attitude, engagement and empathy.

The complexity of this topic will be illustrated by Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein, owner of a successful winery at the Mosel, as an outstanding and original species of a leader in the world of wine.

Firstly, I would like to explain the term “leadership” to give navigation, especially for people, who are not involved in the economical world. To define the word leadership, is not as easy as the definition of “biology”. Behind the word “leadership” there are a lot of different perspectives and opinions, which change by the point of view. When I entered “leadership” into Google in April 2019, I was presented with 533.000.000 entries.

Confused by the amount of results existing on the internet, I concentrated more on sources in books and found a definition, that pleased my pretention: “What is leadership? It is a process by which one person influences the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of others. Leaders set a direction for the rest of us; they help us see what lies ahead; they help us visualize what we might achieve; they encourage us and inspire us.”[1]

MOTIVATION

This quote clarifies the importance of the leader’s character in a very good way. Only one person has the power to influence the inner thoughts of a group of people. As a leader, or manager you have to create a natural motivation concerning your employees. Without this the concern’s efficiency and success would get in trouble. So how do managers reach a high and natural motivation of their employees?

It was a very hot day, we were sitting in the old bully driving to the steepest vineyard called Uhlen. For the next six hours we had to plug leaves from the vines to free the grapes. It is an endless, exhausting work, which asks for endurance and patience.

Standing in front of the steep vineyard, looking at the thousands of leaves, Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein came around to explain the sense of plugging leaves. He always spoke in a calm and low voice, like telling you a fairy tale or a secret. “The grapes need to breath, the wind needs the chance to caress the grapes. Carefully you can remove the leaves, without hurting the little grapes. It’s essential, however, to let some of the leaves stay as an umbrella for the grapes, as protection against sunlight and rain. But I’m sure, all of you are sensitive enough to fulfill this challenge.” He walked to the first row of vines and showed us how he would treat the leaves. I didn’t feel the heat any longer, my boss had captivated my attention completely. The task was clear, the reason for the seemingly endless work was clear. I was motivated.

As you realize the leader’s attitude has an enormous influence on the employee’s thoughts, opinions. Therefore I will analyze the development of motivation in the following section.

Motivation is one of the deciding elements in a company. To create it, leaders have to affect their employees. Relating to this vocabulary you have to be very careful: “affecting employees”, does not mean to manipulate them. Simply because manipulation would mean: “(…) a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics.”[2]

If a manager affects his employees, it has to be deliberately and consciously. In context of leadership, influence means the combination of cohesiveness and innovative motivation. Based on this two indicators we can find out about a leader’s “must haves” concerning the character.

SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE

Without empathy, which is fraction of cohesiveness, there is no chance to create a harmonic relationship between leader and employee. Both are responsible for the result, but all in all the leader himself is the key person.

“Social Intelligence is the ability to get along well with others, and to get them to cooperate with you.”[3] In my opinion social intelligence is fixed in humans’ personality. It’s an attribute captivated in a person’s character. Not only the way you grew up, protected by your family, is relevant for development of social intelligence, also your future surroundings like teachers, friends, or relationships are crucial. Nevertheless, there is a basic nature localized in every individual. Arose in our genealogical tree.

Often, dissatisfaction of employees depends on a lack of confidence in their managers. What is the consequence of that? It is not only the companies’ breakdown or that employees hand in their notice. The terrifying effect is a destroyed corporate culture and work atmosphere.

To show clearly how this state influences the employees’ behavior I found a well-fitting survey. The “Gallup-Institute” describes in their survey, that “24 percent of German employees have a very low satisfaction concerning their workplace. The employees cannot identify themselves with the enterprise and do not feel well in the working atmosphere. Gallup describes this type of employee as undedicated, with an inner denouncement.”[4]

As main offender Gallup names the companies’ managers: “a lot of employees have the feeling that their central needs and expectations are completely ignored by their managers”[5]. Apparently in this cases social intelligence is not at work.

As a result of this survey we can say that managers without any empathy influence the employees’ attitude in a negative way. Apart from the financial consequences: Gallup calculates the “annual costs through days absent and bad efficiency up to 122 milliard Euros.”[6]

These facts prove which impact the managers’ character has on the companies’ success. Without his social intelligence employees do not feel accepted, they are not motivated and are neither connected with their company nor their work.

The mansion, in which the winery is located is more than dreamlike. It is a place you enjoy to be, to work. You are feeling the harmony and the pride of the estate. Beneath the couple Heymann-Löwenstein, some of the employees, who came from Canada, Australia and Indonesia had the joy to reside in this wonderful villa. The fact that I had the chance to work together with people from all over the world, made the internship to a complete new experience. It was a great feeling, to have these different cultures together in one place and Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein as its central pole.

It was more like a big family, than a company.

In the third week of my internship at the beautiful Moselle I was already completely integrated in the winery team. There was no fear or prejudice. All the employees were interested in wine, people with character, with sympathy, which created an huge positive working atmosphere.

This atmosphere was created by the way Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein treated his employees. He always had a smile for you. He visited his employees in their breaks, to talk to them. Even at his wives birthday, all employees were invited in the afternoon for cake and coffee. All together we set up tables and helped to organize chairs.

The key point of this story is: Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein did not treat his employees like subordinates, caused by his social intelligence. I as an employee was feeling well in this company, I could identify myself with the whole corporate culture. To say it again: the work I did was hard, but I was motivated.

Once again we come back to the Gallup survey. Its result says clearly: “Instead of deterioration strategies, the managers have to concentrate on human resources.”[7]

This conclusion is an important point, concerning the managers’ character. To finalize the chapter “social intelligence” we can sum up: the character, which is origin of empathy, is an essential feature of managers, to support the company’s success, as well as the employees well-being.

Praise, appreciation, support of innovative ideas, new challenges, a clear goal, mission and vision are preconditions to create satisfaction.

But how does the manager convey all these points to the employee?

COMMUNICATION

“We all use language to communicate, to express ourselves, to get our ideas across, and to connect with the person to whom we are speaking. When a relationship is working, the act of communicating seems to flow relatively effortlessly. When a relationship is deteriorating, the act of communicating can be as frustrating as climbing a hill of sand.”

- Chip Rose, attorney and mediator

The act of communicating involves verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal components. The verbal component refers to the content of our message‚ the choice and arrangement of our words.

The nonverbal component refers to the message we send through our body language. The paraverbal component refers to how we say what we say — the tone, pacing and volume of our voices.[8] To send information in an efficient way a manager must use all three components. Unfortunately there are a lot of managers without this knowledge. They cannot express their thoughts, goals and visions, which leads to unmotivated employees, who do not comprehend their tasks much less the sense of their work. Managers with rhetorical skills have a priceless advantage. Rhetorical skills are, of course, a product of a humans education and background, nevertheless they flower out in a human’s character. Introvert humans have a complete different way of expression than extraverted humans with strong characters.

The “strong” type of manager has the power to enthuse, to inspire employees with his rhetorical talent. Open communication is one key point, which is needed for satisfied employees. If your boss conveys you his passion, his motivation concerning to his enterprise, he gets you in a positive spectrum and surrounding. Consequently leadership is using “our personal power to win the hearts and minds of people to achieve a common purpose; the minds … by giving people a clear understanding of what they have to do, why, and how it might be done; the hearts … by generating feelings of challenge, involvement, ownership, commitment and excitement.”[9]

Michael Maccoby, a noted psychologist, says that the definition of a leader is: ‘[…] someone whom people follow.’[10] To follow someone you have to be convinced of a person’s visions, attitude and character. A manager who does not fascinate his employees will never be a role model. When we imagine an efficient and popular leader, we see personalities with strong characters, who have the force to shine. Having this picture in our head we are willing to follow this person.

SUCCESS

Surrounded by his best clients, he spoke in a calm and soft voice, standing in his own, old cellar: “ I am the king. Not the customer.” I will never forget this tingly, paradox moment, when Reinhard Heymann-Löwenstein said this sentence.

This was the day of the winery’s vintage presentation. The atrium was filled with people, customers, friends, employees. I was invited to this celebration, to become acquainted with the vines. The atmosphere was so relaxed, weightless. I was standing in front of the different types of wines, considering which one I should try next, when a little women and her husband, obviously customers, came to me and asked about my reason for being here. I answered as always: internship and so forth. I asked in turn how she spotted this winery.

An unbelievable storm of enthusiasm followed. She watched TV, and there was an interview with Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein. Excited she reported: “I’m not really interested in wine. My husband, yes, he has a little cellar, am I right Albert? But I was not involved in this wine world. But then I saw this interview with Reinhard. I was so fascinated by this person. The way he talks about wine, the vineyard, the nature and his passion, is absorbing. Addicted to this personality I directly ordered some bottles of his winery. A few weeks later my husband and me visited this place, am I right darling? We both were taken with this beautiful winery and, of course, Reinhard is such a nice person!”

In the marketing area you are calling this strategy “differentiation”. To differ from your competitors you have to be something special, an individual. Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein is absolutely unique in the wine world. His philosophy right from the beginning was, to produce his own type of wine, not the customers asking. Being famous for his high quality, that is grape harvesting by hand, gentle treatment of the grapes and an multifaceted final product, the customers accept high prices.

But is it de facto only the quality of wines which generates the customers affection? No, it is not: Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein creates not only an image with his personality, he creates a brand. A brand is an image in the customer’s head that induces an identification with the product and satisfaction, too. The reason for buying Heymann-Löwenstein wine is not only the quality of the product, it is the person standing for the product. Mr. Heymann-Löwenstein confers his philosophy and passion to the customer. Moreover his character generates the enterprise’s public relations. In Heymann-Löwenstein’s case the customers are not the kings, nevertheless they follow and buy.

Managers without this allurement do not have the power for being a brand, not to mention to create an emotional connection to their customers and employees.

CONCLUSION

We looked at the manager as a human. In this context topics like motivation, communication and social intelligence are ineluctably. All of this three themes are connected and construct the manager’s character. The influence of the personality on the employees attitude and motivation was clarified. This essay showed not only the importance of the manager’s appearance concerning the employees, it also illustrated his effects on the customers, which consequently means the effect on the enterprise’s success.

I would like to say how much this topic fascinates me. I am assured that we need leaders with passion, with personality to be efficient. Enthusiastic employees work harder than disappointed ones.

Written by Alice Goldberg

SOURCES:

MILLS, Quinn: Leadership — How to Lead, How to Live. 2005

BRAIKER, Harriet B.: Who’s Pulling Your Strings ? How to Break The Cycle of Manipulation. 2004

Dr. ALBRECHT, Karl: Social Intelligence Theory. 2004

WINDLE Rod, WARREN Suzanne: Communication Skills

http://www.directionservice.org/

Gallup-Studie : Jeder vierte Arbeitnehmer hat innerlich gekündigt. 2012

http://www.download.ff-akademie.com/Gallup-Studie.pdf

Center for Leadership and Behavior in Organizations (CLBO)

http://www.clbo-frankfurt.org/

SAGE — the natural home for authors

http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/45143_Gill_2e.pdf

[1] MILLS 2005, p. 12

[2] BRAIKER 2004

[3] ALBRECHT 2004

[4] GALLUP 2012

[5] GALLUP 2012

[6] GALLUP 2012

[7] GALLUP 2012

[8] BRAIKER

[9] SAGE, p. 27

[10] SAGE

I will not stop until all my people are free. #freedom

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