Guidelines for Leadership and Good Management

Leadership, good management and cooperation are the cornerstones of our outstanding research and teaching at the University of Tübingen. At the helm of a modern research and higher education institution, we at the President’s Office have set out these guidelines to provide orientation and clarity on what we expect from University members with personnel responsibilities, and from all our employees.

The nine Guidelines for Leadership and Good Management


Leadership, good management and cooperation are the cornerstones of our outstanding research and teaching at the University of Tübingen. At the helm of a modern research and higher education institution, we at the President’s Office have set out these guidelines to provide orientation and clarity on what we expect from University members with personnel responsibilities, and from all our employees. In our successful bid for excellence status in 2012, we formulated our goal of a culture of commitment and cooperation between our academic, technical and administrative employees. This common effort is strengthened by good leadership and underpinned by good management practices.

Every person who assumes responsibility for employees assumes both a management and leadership role, whether or not they have direct disciplinary responsibility for their team members. It is in this sense that we refer to anyone with leadership and/or managerial roles in these guidelines as ‘leaders’ as well as ‘managers’. The guidelines apply to both, as well as to all areas of the university, whether academic, technical or administrative, including junior and senior faculty, other teaching staff and academic support staff.

All work at the University of Tübingen takes place in an international and diverse environment. We are committed to equity, equal opportunities, diversity, family-friendliness and participation. These guidelines reflect that commitment. They send the message that leadership and good management are important to us. We value all groups of employees. We expect those in management positions to view leadership as part of their range of tasks and to take the necessary time for it -- we at the President’s Office also expect this of ourselves.

Good management is the basis of leadership and can be learned. We offer our team leaders and managers individual opportunities to learn how to implement these guidelines. We also appreciate their efforts to continuously develop and professionalize their leadership skills and to pass them on to the next generation of responsible leaders. At the President’s Office, in the Dean's Offices and in the central administration, we support the implementation and further development of leadership and good management in our university culture.

These guidelines provide the framework for this continued development. By implementing them as concrete measures, we at the University of Tübingen are pursuing our goal of raising the quality of leadership. These guidelines give all University employees cause for reflection and help promote lifelong learning.


What does this mean?

Leadership at the University of Tübingen is directly linked with responsibility - both for others and for oneself. Good managers make strategic and operational decisions and must vouch for the consequences.

What approach should leaders take?

Leaders are aware of their function as role models among their peers, to their employees, and to the outside world. In their work, they pursue the goal of advancing the University's outstanding achievements in research and teaching. They expect the same motivation from their team.

Leaders are aware that all employee groups contribute to the overall success of the University by acting responsibly together.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Team leaders must fulfill their duty of care towards their employees and ensure the implementation of occupational health and safety requirements.

They need to ensure that measures decided upon are implemented - even if they are labor-intensive or unpleasant or involve changes. They delegate in such a way that all employees know their own area of responsibility and that they are neither overworked nor are working below capacity.

At the University, it may happen that employment relationships (postdocs, research assistants and student assistants) and academic relationships (degree studies, doctorate, habilitation) overlap. In such cases, team leaders need to be aware of their different responsibilities as managerial superiors as well as academic supervisors and act accordingly, e.g. in grading, evaluation and review procedures as well as in potential bias situations.

Open to the new

What does this mean?

The core concern of the University of Tübingen and its leaders is the search for new academic knowledge, for innovations to solve challenges in society, for improvements in administration, and the modernization of teaching. The prerequisite for this is good cooperation across all areas of the University.

What approach should leaders take?

Team leaders need to be future-oriented, have the courage to make changes, and regard managing such changes as their responsibility. They should also have a positive attitude toward increased digitization.

Leaders are open to suggestions and criticism from their employees.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

In line with the Tübingen institutional strategy, Open to New Challenges and a Global Scope of Action, team leaders promote new topics and process-optimization in research, teaching, administration and technology, as well as innovative forms of internal and external collaboration.

They create structures to take up ideas from employees, test them, and implement them if they are successful. In doing so, leaders always weigh the continuation of the tried and tested against the sensible implementation of the new.


What does this mean?

Only regular exchange - both within the team and bilaterally - ensures the flow of information that forms the basis for sustainable working relationships and goal-oriented results. Good communication motivates both employees and managers. Communication can take place in a variety of ways, e.g., in writing, in direct contact, by telephone or by video conference. Communication rules apply to all these channels.  

What approach should leaders take?

Communication takes place in an appreciative manner and with respect for the persons involved - even when an unwelcome message needs to be conveyed. In communication processes, both leaders and team members have to seek approaches which will work best with the person they are speaking to.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Leaders and managers create space for trusting, fear-free communication and take the necessary time for it. They communicate clearly and as transparently as possible regarding tasks, responsibilities, evaluations and change projects. They regularly review their communication strategy and strive to pass on information promptly.

Team leaders promote structures for exchanging information, for feedback and for networking both within their teams and with other parts of the University. They set the tone for communication that promotes discussion by applying active listening techniques. They record important discussion content and the next steps to be taken, in writing, with those involved.

Creating context

What does this mean?

A suitable framework is extremely important for good cooperation. This includes suitable working conditions, personnel and material resources that match the tasks to be carried out, sufficient information, and the delegation of responsibilities and decision-making authority. Good managers organize this framework - where appropriate, in cooperation with their employees.

What approach should leaders take?

Leaders are aware that they must set the tone for the working environment in such a way that good results can be achieved and employees can find development opportunities.

The working relationships between managers and employees, colleagues and superiors are characterized by underlying trust.

Leaders are prepared to work in dynamic teams and in project situations and also to take on management tasks beyond their own team.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Team leaders take time for their leadership tasks and integrate them into their daily work. In so doing, they always ensure a balance between control and trust as well as between standard and individual solutions.

Leaders ensure that the meaning and objectives of their work are transparent to employees at all times and that the team does not lose sight of higher goals.

Equity and diversity

What does this mean?

The relationships between managers and their employees are characterized by diversity and variety. Responsible leaders should actively strive for equality, ensuring equal opportunities for all employees and value diversity as a strength in their teams.

What approach should leaders take?

For leaders, it is natural to recognize the diversity and variety of the people they work with. They see this diversity as an opportunity to make use of different perspectives in everyday professional life, and they accept the challenges that arise from it. Team leaders are not discouraged if the implementation of equity measures leads to changes in processes and habits and therefore meets with resistance.

Leaders know that there are structural and unconscious biases that can hinder different groups from participating in University life. They bear in mind their employees’ various personal situations and are familiar with the available options for disadvantage compensation.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Team leaders know the policies in place at the University and work to identify the conscious and unconscious bias within themselves which may lead to exclusion and discrimination. They create a climate in which team members can address negative experiences and deal with them together. Good managers work to counter any form of discrimination in their teams and see any opportunity to train their employees with regard to equity as a chance for team development. They take advantage of the information and advice offered by the equal opportunity, diversity and family offices as well as the equal opportunity representative and the representative for disabled persons, and involve their employees. Leaders promote and respect diversity in their teams and take care to create equal opportunities in hiring processes by maintaining transparency and observing uniform standards.

Challenging and promoting

What does this mean?

Team leaders require employees to fulfill their tasks and thus contribute to the achievement of the set goals. In return, they support and encourage employees in their qualification, participation opportunities and professional development.

What approach should leaders take?

Leaders value binding, reliable and consistent working relationships.

They are interested in the views of their employees as well as their personal situations and take these into account wherever possible. Good managers view mistakes as opportunities for learning and development.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Team leaders take into account the strengths, weaknesses and potential of their employees and deploy them accordingly when assigning new tasks. They build a framework for cooperation by formulating clear expectations and offering appropriate support.

Leaders recognize good performance. In the opposite case, they give constructive criticism and point out opportunities for improvement.

Leaders encourage their employees by showing them opportunities for further training and development and, if necessary, seek advice and support from the Personnel Development Office.

Dealing with conflicts

What does this mean?

Even with good management practices, dissent and conflicts may arise. In these cases, constructive interaction characterized by mutual respect is required.

What approach should leaders take?

Leaders regard conflicts as an integral part of working life and actively deal with them. In doing so, they perceive differences, e.g. in thinking and acting, as an opportunity for change and learning.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Leaders recognize conflicts in their various forms and address them at the earliest suitable moment.

They encourage their employees to resolve conflicts themselves. If this is not possible, team leaders create structures to design suitable negotiation processes, especially if the fulfillment of tasks is at risk.

In the case of conflicts that are difficult to resolve or if leaders are biased or are themselves involved, they draw on internal or external expertise. Internal support is provided in an advisory or mediatory capacity by, for example, the Personnel Development Office, the Psychosocial Counselling Service and the staff council.


What does this mean?

In their everyday work, leaders frequently make conscious and unconscious, sometimes difficult decisions. Most decisions are based on previous interactions and are thus the result of social processes.

What approach should leaders take?

Decisions cannot be made with complete certainty, but they can be made to the best of our knowledge and in good faith. Leaders are aware that the basis for decisions may change over time and they respond accordingly.

Some complex issues - e.g., dilemma situations - cannot be decided correctly once and for all. They require continuous reflection and repeated decision-making.

Leaders know that decisions made jointly are more likely to be accepted by those involved and that this facilitates implementation.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Decision-making processes must be made transparent to all those involved. Where possible, employees should be involved as participants in the decision-making process.

Leaders communicate decisions clearly and comprehensibly. They implement decisions themselves or ensure that they are implemented. If possible, they involve employees and their ideas.

If it is recognized that the current procedure or the previous decisions do not lead to the goal, new decisions are initiated.


What does this mean?

Through their actions, good managers also contribute to the University's social mission of sustainable development. They develop a strategic vision for relevant future issues.

What approach should leaders take?

Leaders are committed to the careful use of ecological, economic and social resources. They see themselves as role models for sustainable action.

They show an understanding and willingness to learn about how aspects of sustainability are interrelated and may change in the context of the University and beyond.

What action do we expect from our leaders?

Leaders regularly take time to reflect on their work both individually and with their colleagues, supervisors and teams. This gives them ideas for process-oriented learning and change.

They support the long-term maintenance of their employees’ health and deal responsibly with their own.

Team leaders respond to current developments in terms of content and structure, e.g. by restructuring, shifting topics, changing priorities or appropriate team measures.

Leaders use the University's resources responsibly, economically and sparingly and encourage their employees to do so as well. Their thinking and actions are geared to long-term solutions oriented toward the common good.

Four goals of the guidelines for leadership and good management

1. A common basic understanding of leadership/good management and an ongoing discussion

In discussion groups, we work out what good leadership means for us as managers and employees in our everyday work. This includes both overarching leadership issues and concrete questions of management practice.


2. Orientation and clarity of expectations

The guidelines set out clearly the criteria on which leadership and good management are based. These guidelines support those in personnel management in their leadership role and in the tasks it involves.


3. Taking responsibility, living appreciation

Good management and leadership guidelines underscore that the work of all employees is an important contribution to the overall success of the University. We call on each individual to take responsibility for themselves, their own team and their respective area of work.


4. Creating a framework for new management instruments

Guidelines for good leadership are not an end point; they are a starting point that creates clarity and perspective. With the adoption of the guidelines, measures are now being promoted to continuously develop the quality of leadership and good management at the University of Tübingen on these foundations.