FORTHEM Staff Week

Is there a European perspective on leadership in higher education? What about organisational impacts on leadership, what do universities expect from their executive staff and personnel development programs? These questions guided the FORTHEM staff week which took place at Johannnes Gutenberg University

Mainz from 13th to 16th September 2022. In an intense exchange at JGU’s campus, the participants from Finland, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Germany discussed leadership and got to know new perspectives on leadership in higher education.
There is a shared perspective: in learning organisations like universities leadership is of high relevance and within FORTHEM, understanding leadership, sharing, and supporting ideas and activities in this field is an added value. In a series of workshops, the participants discussed about responsibility, support of team staff, intercultural communication, and problem-solving strategies in an international setting. In a job shadowing with a colleague from JGU, each participant had the opportunity to intensify exchange in their respective field of work.

This was our program during Staff Week:

Click below for further program descriptions and pictures


Starting at 12 AM, you can meet us and other participants, and have some snacks and drinks as a starter in room 2 - 617 (PoWi 02-617).

We will welcome you for the following seminar week. For this we will give you an organizational and thematic overview of what to expect in the next few days. 

For this element of the program, we need your support. We will ask you to tell us and the other participants a little about your university. (e.g. Students numbers, numbers of employees and other interesting facts, which make your university unique). We are looking forward to get to know you and your university a little better.

In this session, we will focus on how to consult a person who comes for your advice, instead of telling them what to do. You will learn and practise a guideline for a short one-on-one-consulting. You will find out about the impact of asking the right questions. You will strengthen your ability in helping others to develop ideas and finding their own answers to their questions.

During the city tour, you will get to know Mainz from its most beautiful sides.

Right after, you are invited to our welcome dinner at Weinhaus Schreiner. You have the chance to try some typical local food and drink some wine.


In this session, you will learn more about the topic of responsibility and its complexity. You will learn different angles with which you can reflect and dialogue on responsibility. You will understand the interaction of people and organisation. We will discuss on how we all can create a culture of dialoguing on responsibility in our daily work lifes.

In this workshop you learn about the method of Peer Consultation. It is a method for consulting within a group of equal members with defined roles that enables the group to consult without an external coach. The group advises one member at a time on a certain topic or problem, guided through a specific consulting process. We want to introduce the method to you and let you experience a first round of consulting onyour own cases.

We are pleased to show you our beautiful campus of Mainz University.


Rather than having one best way, collaborating across borders and cultures can create new synergies and ways of working. As we know, however, the path to effective intercultural communication is not always smooth.

This interactive workshop delves into the hidden intricacies of intercultural communication and explores how irritations and misunderstandings can have their base in our own cultural perceptions and expectations. We look at some of the traps we fall into in communicating across cultures and how these can be overcome.

"I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us."(Vulcan Greeting, Star Trek)

Within this slot, we either want to allow you to continue consulting on your cases or use this spot for a topic that one of the participants introduces us to.

Call for topics: We ask you all to submit a topic of your choice regarding the theme "European perspectives on leadership in higher education". If you are particularly familiar with a topic, and you would like to introduce it to the participants, please let us know within the next three weeks.

We offer you a job shadowing opportunity. This means that you accompany a colleague from JGU on his*her job for 3 hours. In this setting you can observe the colleague's activities and gain an impression of his*her task. For this we found you a job shadowing partner here at Mainz University.

If this is something you are not interested in, you are welcome to use this time for networking.

Our area is known for its viticulture. That's why we would like to give you the opportunity of a wine tasting. We will taste the wines of a winery, will learn about where they are grown and take a short tour through the vineyards.


Energy follows attention," "Relaxation creates stability," "Problems get stronger when you fight them." This workshop is about experiencing these principles in a physical yet soft and protected way. We start off with a little bit of theoretical input with simple models on decision taking, reality construction and how our current state has the biggest influence on how we can meet today’s challenges.
Quickly we’ll switch to “hands-on” partner exercises derived from the Japanese martial art of Aikido. They can be experienced and felt, and Aha-moments are guaranteed. These “somatic metaphors” are slow exercises combined with visualization exercises that open a channel to sense what is happening in our own bodies.
Aikido is about taking the energy inherent in attack and transforming it into a win-win situation. A victory that results from the defeat of the opponent is not a victory. Rather, an attack is interpreted as the loss of the attacker's inner balance.  The task then is to make an offer of support to the attacker, taking into account his own safety, so that he can find his inner center again. This requires of the defender to be well organized in his/her body as a prerequisite.
The combination of body work (embodiment) with visualization work in the somatic metaphors generates intensive communication between the voluntary and the involuntary, which can be called up even under pressure. The approach shifts attention from head to body, from voluntary to involuntary, from external tension to internal relaxation, and therefore offers new/complementary possibilities for leadership in these challenging times.
In the last part of the workshop, we want to invite to a discussion, how the presented ideas, models, and elements could impact our daily work.
Participants are asked to come with flat shoes, sportswear is not necessary. Essentially, it is about feeling, experiencing and sharing about it.”

Later on, the learned material will be applied using partner exercises and interactive exchange.

Here we will take the time to review the week together. And we look forward to hearing your feedback.