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Leadership Made in Germany: Low on Compassion, High on Performance

Authors:
  • NUS Business School and Leuphana University Lüneburg

Abstract

As part of the GLOBE project, we collected data on culture and leadership in Germany from 457 middle managers in the telecommunications, food processing, and finance industries. The most pronounced German cultural value is performance orientation. The hallmark of German cultural practices is high levels of uncertainty avoidance and assertiveness, along with low levels of humane orientation. At work, compassion is low and interpersonal relations are straightforward and stern. It seems that conflict and controversy are built into the German societal culture. As has been shown in the GLOBE project by using data from 61 countries. characteristics attributed to a country's outstanding leaders match closely with its cultural values and practices. This holds true for Germany. Effective German leaders are characterized by high performance orientation, low compassion, low self-protection, low team orientation, high autonomy, and high participation. Conflict and controversy seem to be built into the German leadership culture as well. A "tough on the issue, tough on the person" leadership approach appears to explain Germany's economic accomplishments in the second half of the 20th century. However, it does not seem to be a promising approach to meet the challenges of globalization in the 21st century. Are Germany's societal. organizational, and leadership cultures prepared for an adaptive change? A "tough on the issue, soft on the person" leadership approach seems to be the right recipe for German managers.
... While Germans like to think of themselves to be theoretically driven, they are often more interested in large, allencompassing theories (often excessively complex). Hofstede (1991) has argued convincingly, that one way how cultures cope with high uncertainty avoidance is to develop ''grand'' theories because understanding the ''complete'' picture is uncertainty-reducing. Germany is one of the most uncertainty avoidant countries in the world (Brodbeck, Frese, and Javidan, 2002). This may be one of the factors that makes German scientiWc culture skeptical towards simplicity. ...
... Most recently, I have concentrated on training programs that change PI and on demonstrating that such programs have positive eVects for unemployed, for employees, and for business owners. None of these articles have yet been published (except a small study in German: Frese, et al., 2002), but most of the studies that we have done are quite encouraging. ...
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the process of theory development. Theory provides the base for knowledge and understanding of important relationships in various disciplines. Theory development is highly important in the discipline of management and organizations as it is a relatively young Weld of study, in comparison to many other social science disciplines. As a young Weld of study, new theory provides important and unique insights that can advance the Weld’s understanding of management phenomena. In fact, much of the theory used in management and organizational research has been derived from the social science disciplines of economics, psychology, and sociology; although new distinctive management theory has been developed, these theories are still in a developmental stage. Many of the most prominent theories used in the Weld of management and organizations are examined in this handbook
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Thesis
For years now career success emerged as one of the focal points in managerial psychology research. It still remains a key topic in contemporary literature. Personality has been identified as an essential predictor of work and career success. In examining associations between personality traits and professional outcomes, the Big Five represents the prevalent theoretical basis. This widely recognized framework stands primarily for bright and affirmative personality attributes. In more recent times, the rather negative side of the personality range received increasing scientific attention, not least triggered by severe scandals in the business world. Especially the Dark Triad personality construct consisting of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism has attracted growing academic consideration. Surprisingly these rather undesirable personality characteristics do not only promote counterproductive outcomes. Consequently, the two topics of bright as well as dark personality traits and career success constitute the scope of the thesis. To split the topic up and to explore it as sophisticated as possible, a comprehensive scientific approach is required. Supported by a multilayered methodological procedure, the interplay of personality and career success was investigated on heterogeneous criteria: (1) multifaceted bandwidth of personality, (2) diversity of career success indicators, (3) varied decision-making levels, and (4) new work environment. In summary, this dissertation answers the following research questions in three interrelated essays: 1. How successful are both light and dark personalities in terms of objective success criteria? 2. Does a GFP-E specific for executives exist and how is it related to the Dark Triad, success and satisfaction measures? 3. Do paradox personalities, in particular narcissism and humility, succeed in new work environments? The first paper represents the basis for gain in knowledge. It takes a broad attempt by addressing both the bright and dark personality traits of the Big Five and the Dark Triad. Accordingly, the influence of these expansive personality attributes and the selected objective career success indicators budget responsibility and personnel decision-making authority were examined. Empirically, a dual approach with a German sample combining an AI-based automated speech analysis tool with self-reported survey data was chosen. The results indicate a positive relationship between psychopathy and personnel decision-making authority, as well as between narcissism and emotional stability to budget responsibility. In the second article, the interest shifts entirely to the top-management. Here, a narrower personality approach was considered. For this purpose, self-reported survey data from German top-managers were collected. The study demonstrates that a superordinate singular factor (General Factor of Personality, GFP) specifically for executives (GFP-E) exists that is characterized by high agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness and openness to experience as well as low neuroticism. Furthermore, the relationship of the GFP-E to the Dark Triad and to success and satisfaction indicators were examined. Positive correlations to these criteria as well as to narcissism were evident. In contrast, negative connections to Machiavellianism and psychopathy were apparent, indicating the existence of a Dark Dyad. Finally, the third essay highlights the impact of paradox personalities on career success, namely the combination of narcissism and humility. In order to reflect the current transformation in the business world, new work settings are integrated in this study as well. Methodologically, a dyadic approach relating self-reported and other-reported survey data of US-professionals was selected. 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