In 2010, JGU designed a concept to develop a new culture of leadership tailored specifically to the needs of the university. After committing the concept to paper, JGU was able to convince both the Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft and the Heinz-Nixdorf-Foundation of the importance of the project and received a subvention that would help implement the ideas. In December 2010, the university management board gave the project management board the go-ahead. The project was completed exactly three years later.
One of the project’s most important goals was to find a way to use the seemingly opposing principles of participation and expertise to our advantage. In order to find out a way to do so, we had to get to the bottom of leadership styles that focus on equality and not having one individual in charge. The second step in this process was to find out whether such a style could be implemented at JGU.
Based on newly developed leadership guidelines, the project was set up to support (de)centralized managerial responsibilities. In order to make that possible, we defined two specific goals:
- Managers/employees with managerial tasks should be happy in their role and use their resources effectively, improving the quality of their department’s work in the process.
- Employees should be managed in a way that makes them feel respected and valued, and should be motivated to give their absolute best.
The first step in the process towards innovation was to ask our staff members about leadership. What did they think leadership at JGU should look like? The results of this survey were used to compile a preliminary list of leadership guidelines that would serve as a framework for all managers at JGU. These guidelines were then revised with the help of many staff members. The preliminary list was put on paper and discussed and revised during several meetings and assemblies. It was then sent to the Senate, where it was passed by a large majority. Subsequently, eight smaller project groups worked on measures, instruments and strategies for the actual implementation of the guidelines. These smaller projects focused on the following separate aspects:
- Performance reviews for employees
- Professional development opportunities for experienced managers
- Women in leadership positions/roles
- Optimization of selection procedures
- Incentives for employees who take on managerial tasks
- Identifying and training of future managers
- Management feedback
- Project evaluation
The project was led by a special team, consisting of staff members of the HR development department. Representatives from all other departments, including the university management board, acted as the steering committee.
Most new concepts and ideas were implemented in the already existing managerial structure and put into practice. Some examples of those implemented innovations are the optimized performance reviews or the “JGU Leadership Team Award”, which is awarded to teams that have excelled in putting the leadership guidelines into practice. On top of that, we have provided our managers with a broad range of development opportunities and tools to facilitate staff selection.