Leadership Zeitgeist – Leadership Z Series Chapter 4
Leadership in the Spirit of the time (Zeitgeist)
Leadership Z is now becoming leadership zeitgeist. The German word has even found its way into the English language. Different epochs and national cultures had and still have different expectations regarding their leaders and the applied management style. Leaders who have the ability to lead in a holistic context can be very successful. One would say they have captured the “zeitgeist” (the spirit of their time). The basic motivational driver for “spirit-of-the-time leadership” is the identification with a common vision.
Common vision and empowerment
This means people will rather share a vision than a solution.
This pulls the employees into basic ideas of existence and direction of all activities which are going to inspire them. This on return encourages loyalty and trust instead of control and in consequence this motivates leaders to delegate empowerment even more.
The more delegation of empowerment can take place, the more ownership will be enabled and the more a “Zeitgeist”-leader is able to keep an eye on the future. They are able to communicate efficiently to all kinds of people independent of their academic degree.
Promoting creativity and open dialogue
By doing so, they take their time to coach or consult followers, to grow individually, recognize and appreciate progress, and intrinsically promote further creativity and enable learning rather than blame for failure.
These kind of leaders have dialogues rather than making assumptions and in general ask what and why and not who and when and have extremely high ethical and moral standards.
They would be able to reflect by starting to investigate the symptoms of a given situation following the root cause analysis. While the average leader would be satisfied with conducting a root cause analysis, “Zeitgeist”-leader would search for the behavior pattern, which led to the root cause. However, the peak level of self-reflection is reached only when her/his behavior is also called into question regarding how it might have contributed to this specific behavior pattern.
From self-serving leadership to serving organizations
They understand themselves as someone who serves the organization and their employees rather than their own interests.
Due to this “Zeitgeist” personalities are an inspiration to their environment and a fountain of creative and intrinsic stimulation for enthusiasm and motivation. Even more so, they are able to stimulate out of the box thinking and striving for excellence and continuous improvement on all levels and departments of the organization.
Therefore, they gain admiration and confidence on a very high level.
I just can’t wait to see the future of this company.
Feel free to share your visions of future leadership. What management style suits the zeitgeist of the digital age. How can we make change happen? I am eager to read your comments!
-  J. K. Liker, “The Toyota Way,” McGraw-Hill, New York, 2004
-  D. A. Garvin, “Building a Learning Organization,” Harvard Business Review, July August 1993
-  J. Shook, “How to Change a Culture: Lessons from NUMMI,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2010 Vol. 51 No.2
-  R. Tissen, D. Andriessen, F. Lekanne Deprez, “El valor del conocimiento: Para aumentar el rendimiento en las empresas,“ Pearson Educación, Madrid, 2000
-  N. Hawthorne et al., “Hawthorne-Studies,“ 1939-45, In Fischer L. Arbeitsmotivation, -leistung und zufriedenheit
-  G. Beitinger, “Motivation, Coaching and Change Management (MCCM) – The Triade of Success for a Lean Culture”, Erlangen, Siemens intern, unpublished, 2007
-  D. L. Couto, “Putting Leaders on the Coach – A conversation with Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries,” Inside the Mind of Leaders, The Harvard Business Review Interview, January 2004
-  M. F. R. kets de Vries, “Führer, Narren und Hochstapler“ Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag, 2008
-  C. S. Jacobs, “Management Rewired,” Penguin Books, London, 2009
-  D. McGregor; “The Human Side Of Enterprise”, 1960
-  W. Ouchi, “XManagement Z”, 1981
-  J. McGregor Burns, “Transforming Leadership”, 2004
-  W. Bennis, “On Becoming a Leader”, 2009  B.M. Bass, “The handbook of leadership: Theory, Research & Managerial Applications”, 2008