How many values does leadership need?

Every company experiences growing pains. And every company gets to a point in the organizational development where values and rules don’t grow together at the same rate. We’re no different: We couldn’t cope with our structure anymore and we forgot all about our values. So: How do you harmonize values and organizational structures when they get out of sync?

“Inspiring”, “respectful”, “driving” – this is what we want people to say about us. In order, however to create a culture where we deal with people in a responsible way, these fundamental values have to crystallize out of collective consciousness. We have risen to that challenge with every member of our team – and with our “Haufe-umantis Manifesto” we have drawn up a document in which we have laid down binding values and rules in two separate parts.


The Road to Our Haufe-umantis Manifesto

First, we asked every member of our organization about our values and working style. What do we stand for? What sets our company apart from all the others? What is especially important to us? Out of the results of this survey we identified five crucially important areas where we knew we had to apply our values and rules in the future: performance, decision-making, management and leadership, conflict resolution and feedback.

After that we held workshops where we arrived at suggestions for each of those vital areas. Then a team of volunteer editors distilled rules and values out of the workshop results, set these up side by side, assigned priorities to each one and on the basis of all that, came up with the “Haufe-umantis Manifesto”.

This document was the foundation of our joint collective, to invest in equal measure commitment, self-initiative and participation in the organization. This is the only way for us to practice a culture of reciprocal respect and fair treatment. To ensure that no employee goes under in day-to-day working relations, every rule we lay down gets thought through from several viewpoints: What effect does this rule have on me in my job? How can I support others? And: How can I contribute to the success of the company? For the job of management and leadership, for instance, this could look like this:

  1. My job requires me to lead – in the manner that the current situation demands (giving instructions, support, etc.)
  2. I (actively) support others in their leadership role (giving them a hand, joint brainstorming, following, etc.)
  3. Every single member is co-responsible for effective management (active participation in the development of the company)


The Way is the Goal

Documentation of fundamental principles, laid down jointly, sets out clearly the values that a company represents. The Haufe-umantis Manifesto reminds us all time and time again what we stand for and how we want to treat each other. It also guides new recruits. But what is far more important than the final result on paper is the process of how we got there: Firstly, we had to think hard about our own values, and in doing so we affirmed them. So, not only was the Haufe-umantis Manifesto an important step in itself, it was, above all, the joint project that propelled us forward to a bright new future in terms of our company culture.


How are values laid down and communicated in your organization? Do you have a guideline for respectful behavior? How is this put into practice at your company?


Photo Credit: Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

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  1. Thomas Braun am

    Hallo, danke für die Überlegungen, denen ich nur zustimmen kann. Für die Durchführung der Workshops und für die Implementierung in den Alltag, auch in Bereichen mit temporären Kräften, bzw. nicht so sprachlich orientierten Mitarbeitenden, empfehle ich gerne das visuelle SokratesMapConcept. Damit lassen sich dann zusätzlich unterschiedliche Sichtweisen und die dahinterliegenden Überlegungen abbilden und das Manifest lebendig halten.


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