Don’t be Authentic!


In some articles of the current edition of Organisational Development (04/19), the authors address the role model of people in organisations. We understand “role” (according to Dahrendorf in 1965) to be a bundle of expectations which are associated with the conduct of the person holding that role. Thus, it encompasses an expectation for a person in a special situation. In this regard, Luhmann reminds us that these expectations have not been attributed to a specific person, but rather are assumed by various, possibly changing holders of this role. Rainer Niermeyer thus concludes by stating that whoever loses the role also then loses all respect and doubt awakens regarding his integrity. Can we then still even be authentic at all in our role at our companies?


“I want a Manager who is authentic” is asserted by many employees – but, in reality, employees, colleagues and managers don’t want this at all. In numerous seminars, it is conveyed to us that authenticity leads to success and observe over the years that if we truly show other people how we are, then we only rarely attain what we want. If we closely examine the meaning of authenticity, then we note the actual meaning of the word. Authenticity comes from Greek and means “genuineness” in the sense of “deemed to be the original”. Thus, it also becomes clear that it actually only concerns what other people perceive and not so much what becomes of it. The expectations of others count much more than the genuineness of a person himself. Thus, in one’s personal career, it is not a matter of entirely realising one’s own personality, but rather to fulfil a role model that other people expect from a person. We are then ultimately also paid by our employer for implementing a role. Thus, the professional knows how to present himself in his role and what symbolism is associated with his person.

During transformation processes, the change in one’s role model is an essential element. Particularly the management profile in agile organisations is changing significantly. The modern Manager must learn to be able to transform himself in order to be able to flexibly adapt to the respective situation. The Disciplinary Manager must demonstrate an ability to take action. On-site, he obtains an overview of the situation in order to then issue the right instructions to be implemented. He thus also assumes the full responsibility for the results and the employee is in the implementation role. Even if this corresponds very much to the classical concept of management, this vision among many employees still exists even today as in the past. In particular, whenever it encompasses expert organisations (universities, hospitals), such technical expertise is indispensable.


The Trainer is on the periphery of the “playing field” and, as a Manager, identifies the knowledge gaps. He forms the team and changes the composition thereof as required. The responsibility for the results is thus shared because, firstly, it is dependent on the composition of the team, but is primarily influenced by the team’s work. The dependency relationship between the team and the Trainer is changing significantly although, as before, success and failure are very much attributed to the Trainer (particularly the failures and the successes are celebrated by the team and the Trainer is only then a member of the team). The moderator only then still triggers impulses, provides his ideas and perspectives to the team, and attends to a comprehensive development of knowledge. The team is thus empowered to ultimately fulfil the tasks independently. But the responsibility for the results is now then shifted entire to the team and, ultimately as the mentor, the Manager is still only the supporter of the process and intervenes in it with targeted questions. 


Which of these roles is then assumed and when is firstly decided by the maturity of the employee and secondly by the situation. But the requirements for the Manager’s ability to transform himself are always very high. They must always possess a broad repertoire of role-appropriate behavioural patterns. Dirk Bayas-Linke and Ulrich Beck from Staufen AG follow in their article that, in agile and dynamic lean organisations, the role-awareness becomes an important factor for success. Thus, I have convinced more than ever that it is time to intensively address the qualification of the Managers and to also give them sufficient support to fulfil their high expectations.

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