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A third of all managers struggle with their own leadership role

by drbyos

Dusseldorf German companies have a problem in their management levels – and it is the managers themselves. Or more precisely: their attitude and their level of confidence.

Because almost a third of all managers struggle massively with themselves and their own role. Young managers in particular are plagued by great self-doubt. This is shown by the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s current “Executive Radar”, which the think tank created in collaboration with the Reinhard Mohn Institute for Corporate Management (RMI) at the University of Witten / Herdecke.

According to this, every fifth manager judges that they do not meet their own demands in the job. And a good 25 percent of those questioned even agree that they would make a higher contribution to a group if it was not led by them but by someone else.

“This finding is a serious problem for companies,” says the report, which was available to the Handelsblatt in advance. The authors justify it because insecure managers would rarely achieve their goals and employees would be less able to get their messages across. “Leadership doubts go hand in hand with less leadership effect,” the authors write.

Around 1,000 managers in Germany participated in the representative survey.

Young executives particularly affected

The self-doubts seem to be particularly deeply rooted in Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2001). There, almost 44 percent of the executives surveyed struggle with themselves and their tasks. The most confident, however, are the so-called baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). Here, only 21 percent stated high management doubts.

The study could not find a big difference between men and women in terms of self-doubt. The size of the company also played a minor role.

The astonishing uncertainty among the managerial staff is justified with a lack of clarity and excessive bureaucratic and formal hurdles when it comes to completing their own tasks.


What the “executive radar” also shows: The high burden on managers often rubs off negatively on the productivity and satisfaction of employees. Around 45 percent of the highly stressed managers stated that they adopt a rather skeptical attitude towards their employees. Of the less stressed managers, only 16.4 percent answered yes to this question. Such bosses are hardly likely to really motivate their teams.

“Managers themselves need motivating and supportive conditions in order to lead effectively and create a creative and innovative working atmosphere for their teams, as well as to implement changes,” says Liz Mohn, deputy chairwoman of the board of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

The study makers therefore give the following tips on how companies can help unsettled managers:

  • The issue of stress should be addressed openly in development discussions.
  • If necessary, unsettled managers can be offered support via the HR department with workshops and coaching.
  • The conditions of the managers should be checked regularly – preferably semi-annually or quarterly: Where can ambiguities be removed? Where to cut red tape?
  • In middle management, the superiors on the level above can act as role models – and appeal to work on themselves.
  • However, those who suffer permanently from their own role as managers must, in case of doubt, take responsibility – and perform other tasks, write the study authors.

The manager barometer, which the personnel consultancy Odgers Berndtson creates exclusively in cooperation with the Handelsblatt once a year, regularly shows that leadership is anything but a dream job for many managers.

Many managers lack fun and sense

According to the survey, just over 55 percent stated that they enjoy their job as a manager. 52 percent see a sense in their managerial role or corporate purpose. Conversely, this means that almost half of the managers lack this usefulness.


“Management is becoming more and more individual, situational and demanding,” explains Markus Trost, partner at Odgers Berndtson and head of the manager barometer. “The constantly evolving demands on customer needs make it necessary, for example, to be more agile and to continually adjust intermediate goals.”

This is perceived as particularly stressful by executives when the basic motivation in the company is already at a low level “and therefore management performance must be permanently invested in the motivation,” says Trost.

More: Gallup CEO Jim Clifton: “A manager can lead a maximum of ten people”


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