Good leadership, bad leaders.

Being the Chancellor is in itself an overwhelming task, I imagine. One can’t help but make all sorts of mistakes. Even the impossible ones. And everyone eagerly jumps on every mistake. The person who takes on this job recently stumbled, scratched their face, and suddenly the crowd, who constantly pulls at their pant legs and bites their calves, realizes that they are not only the Chancellor but also a human being. Ecce homo, so to speak. Oops! Even politicians, yes even pirates, are human beings. But don’t worry: we will soon forget it. Someone who leads doesn’t have to be a human being, but rather a tough cookie.

Being human has somewhat gone out of fashion, nowadays success is defined by functioning like a machine and doing everything right, even things that have nothing to do with machines, like laughing or touching. Being human means making mistakes, getting hurt, hurting others, having to apologize, stumbling, being vulnerable. A human possesses the core competence of falling down, which is embarrassing to avoid in politics and public life, as it is equated with weakness. Furthermore, weakness is not only grammatically feminine, it is fully associated with the supposedly weaker gender. Men are not allowed to have it, let alone show it. They have already lost before the fight begins. And the fight is constant, up there in the thin air of the leaders.

Kantige Kinne, verspannte Muskeln, Männer, die immer können

Ich stelle mir das grässlich vor. Die ständige Anspannung, die widersprüchlichsten Erwartungen, die man gar nicht anders kann als zu enttäuschen. Etwa die nach der Führung. So ein großes Wort für so eine unklare Angelegenheit. Sie hat mit Krawatten zu tun, mit kantigen Kinnen, mit Muskeln, die sich unterm Jackett spannen, mit Kraft und Zupacken und Zuversicht und Autorität. Auch mit sexueller Anziehung, mit Lange- und Immerkönnen.

Here in this country, it is associated with discomfort to use the term, which is why the English word „leader“ is smoother to say. This is to avoid any association with the leader who ruined the country, although there is also the responsible train conductor – another job that I admire but definitely do not want. Or the team captain with their cool armband. While they take their role seriously, it is also playful, working together with a team and always fair.

The peculiar thing about leadership is that it is both unpopular and necessary. It’s as if one can only exercise it with a pained expression, facing numerous obstacles. Or perhaps leadership is not even exercised at all? And when does it disappear? Are Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky adequately equipped with leadership qualities because they engage in war? And does the peace-loving German Chancellor lack it because he sometimes takes a long time to think and doesn’t always know what to say immediately? Slow pace doesn’t seem to be compatible with good leadership: It must be fast – quick!

We have ordered leadership and not picked it up.

Leadership is a masculine term, even though it has a feminine gender. We supposedly „ordered“ it, but then didn’t pick it up. It’s as if the Chancellor is a one-man operation, supposed to deliver leadership like a pizza and got the order mixed up. So he just can’t seem to deliver, at least not effectively. The constant accusation of lacking leadership doesn’t quite make sense to me – on one hand, everything should be collaborative, together together together. On the other hand, in a country with over 80 million people, the Chancellor is somehow expected to act as if he alone holds their fate in his hands with his strange authority, a feminine word for a testosterone-filled matter.

Everyone is calling for more leadership, and no one knows where it is going. The Left cannot even find a faction leader – they do not want to make one. I understand this wholeheartedly as well. It is said that no one wants to win anymore because the rules of the Federal Youth Games are being changed. And suddenly, no one wants to be first anymore. Panic breaks out.

Do winners feel ashamed?

Bei meinen Söhnen (Handball und Fußball) ist jene Gewinn-Scham noch nicht angekommen, aber sie haben die Bundesjugendspiele auch noch nach alten Regeln machen dürfen (Ehrenurkunde und Siegerurkunde). Der nachwachsenden Generation dagegen wird der Leistungsbooster der öffentlichen Beschämung vorenthalten. Heutige Leistungsträger müssen sich rechtfertigen, wie es besorgt standortdeutschlandsbesorgt raunt. Offenbar wird Leistung ähnlich unbeliebt wie Führung.

On the other hand, we must not help the underperforming too much, so that the gap remains large enough compared to those who may not want to win anymore but still do, just to avoid burdening the state. Under no circumstances should the so-called recipients of benefits – a masculine term for a deeply feminine matter – have it as good as the hardworking population who earn their bread through sweat on their brow – not even if the less successful ones work just as hard, but unfortunately without success. Success must be present, as it is the ultimate proof of performance; where else would we end up?

Vielleicht ins Paradies, doch das gibt es hienieden nicht. Hier unten im Jammertal gibt es nur leistungsschwache Führer und an der Nase Herumgeführte. Bleibt zu hoffen, dass der Bundeskanzler allen Widerständen zum Trotz Zeichen von Schwäche zeigt und sich – Deutschlandpakt an – helfen lässt beim Führen. Das wäre doch stark?