Dusseldorf Responsibility is a big word that managers and those who want to become one like to use even bigger words. According to headhunter Constanze Buchheim, it is the “classic” that people say yes to responsible positions and then don’t want them. “It’s a bit like the principle: the spirits I called,” notes Buchheim.
In the Handelsblatt Rethink Work podcast, the founder and managing director of i-potentials explains why many people find it difficult to take responsibility at work – and what that has to do with the “protective” upbringing in Germany. As a mother of three children, she observes again and again: “We were not born with responsibility.”
For a while, she too had the latent wish that “someone would come along who was a bit stronger than me, a bit better than me and would take some of the responsibility away from me”. There would be many executives who are waiting for the “white knight” and would not fully accept their role.
Constanze Buchheim on leadership: Giving up responsibility
However, Buchheim also believes that challenges such as the climate crisis can only be overcome if managers give up responsibility. However, the 41-year-old believes that each individual in the team must first be empowered to take responsibility and warns against simply “tipping” everything over to others.
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Ultimately, there are also many people, reports the headhunter, who only want to take on responsibility because the position is associated with status, recognition and power. It needs a world “that is guided by maturity, not by ego”. However, maturity should not be equated with age, as can be seen from the former US President Donald Trump.
And maturity does not mean simply blindly fulfilling expectations, neglecting one’s own needs and only placing oneself at the service of others.
Buchheim sees a problem in the fact that young people in particular are increasingly deciding against management positions. “Societally, we are at the point where we have found pleasure in individualization and the optimization of personal lifetime,” says Buchheim. The result is that many no longer want to lead because they don’t want to make compromises.
This is also noticeable on the labor market: from January to September 2022, a third more managerial positions were advertised in Germany than in the same period of the previous year. This is shown by figures from the Berlin Personnel Market Research Index.
More: You can hear the previous episode of Handelsblatt Rethink Work here