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Leadership and Goal Setting

The connection already lies in the meaning of the word. Normally a leader is seen as someone whom others should follow. He who leads requires a goal behind which the others can gather in order to follow.
This understanding, still influenced by heroic images, which sees Moses crossing the Red Sea and offers the folk the dry seabed as a path, overloads and burdens leaders more and more. In relatively stable environments this may still work but in dynamic, complex conditions the individual is increasingly overburdened with this task.

Nevertheless, it is important to be clear what contribution must be delivered, particularly by leaders in their role, to the guiding process goal setting. Here, priority is given to the constant updating of a common attention focus on the goal. This is necessary to create the required security in the team, which is, that all are concerned with the same thing and this does not change without one being explicitly informed. This demands much more communication from the leader than is presumed (“I have told you what is to be done, everyone knows!”). It requires much more than simply having heard something to stand behind it. To shape this process of the team members’ identification with the goal is a leadership role. The psychological basis for doing this competently is letting go of the expectation of rapid accomplishment. For this, one must be able to bear being on one’s own temporarily, though without feeling abandoned. But it also requires the ability to switch between explaining and listening, i.e. not just being in the announcement modus. This, too, can only be done if someone has the ability to open up to others despite having a clear, firm (and therefore closed) opinion. Yet another paradox.