Leadership in the limelight

Life and work are often so difficult to combine. Maren Lehky, however, is convinced that this need not be so. The entrepreneur and writer of several books believes that good leadership is the key to a company’s success and a successful working life. An interview. 

For most people, leaving work in the evening is the best part of the day.

That’s right! When people talk about work, it’s mainly to complain about their jobs. But that just shows how important work is to people of all ages. There’s either too much work or nothing to do at all; people are either looking to make a good start in their careers, or would like to try out something new, or are planning to leave their jobs altogether. As far as I’m concerned, the topic of work is just as important to our lives as love and health. 

In that case, something must be seriously wrong with the realities of work today.

I am absolutely convinced that leadership is decisive in changing this. With good leadership, it’s possible to make work a more positive experience for everyone involved. Good leadership is the necessary condition for ensuring company success and creating jobs. 

So, the success of the company and the job satisfaction of the staff are a matter for the bosses?

Yes, I think it is their responsibility of course. But, before effective leadership can express itself in positive figures and results, the boss has to take care of plenty of other things at work. After all, leadership is first and foremost an extremely emotional issue. It’s about honour, passion, ambition, success and setbacks, responsibility, strength and balance, power and powerlessness. 

That sounds more like the drama of the theatre!

That’s a good comparison. Yes, good leadership is on the stage for all to behold. Managers are in the limelight every day and are criticised by people both in front of and behind the stage. They have to manage human emotions and feelings – their own and those of their employees. It’s a matter of fact that hardly anyone pays any attention to what managers have to put themselves through, or the extent to which their job forces them into self-reflection and personal development. 

Getting back to the point: what is the play all about?

Employees who moan, who don’t believe in the company policy, mistakes piling up – and no solution in sight! Then you have to dig deep and struggle against a sense of helplessness, the desire to change tack and temptations to resort to the tried and tested. You have to do this until it finally pays off, the atmosphere changes for the better, people develop greater trust and you start to breathe more easily. This lasts until the next challenge, which may for a time also appear unsolvable during the sleepless nights it creates. This is how managers rise to their challenges, in the truest sense of the term. 

Seems like a bottomless pit. What approach do you use for your seminars, coaching sessions and presentations?

A very practical and pragmatic one: I strongly believe that anyone can be a leader if they really want to do it and do it well. It’s quite easy to teach people how to use the tools of communication, such as leadership styles, methods and strategies, and it’s even easier to train them. My work always involves looking at concrete solutions to concrete questions. 

Do your books also follow such a pragmatic approach?

 

Absolutely. My first book came about when my stepson first started applying for jobs. At the time, I was working as an HR Manager and was therefore the ideal person to consult for all kinds of questions. As I’m a real devotee of thoroughness and efficiency, I suggested he should start by reading a suitable book and then discuss any questions he might have with me. Unfortunately, it transpired that there were no suitable books on the market! So I spent the whole of the next Easter weekend writing down everything I could think of that young people in his situation would need to know. 

Since then, I’ve written several other books, but never as quickly as that first time! On average, I tend to spend a good three-quarters of a year working on a book. My most recent books are also a lot more complex than my first effort, which was mainly a collection of tips and tricks for people starting their careers. 

Does Maren Lehky ever get any free time?

But of course! I like to recharge my batteries by spending my free time with my husband and friends in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. I love going up to the sea or pottering about the garden in my wellies with a wheelbarrow. It’s a great feeling to see what you have actually done with your day – all the while enveloped by the typical smells of the season and in the company of feathered or four-legged friends. And besides, some of these simple jobs I do outdoors can give me great ideas for new projects or serve as inspiration for the texts I’m working on at the time.