Looking at Angela Merkel’s Leadership Style through the Leipzig Leadership Model

by Prof. Dr. Timo Meynhardt | July 19, 2022
What can we learn from the German Chancellor's leadership decisions during the refugee crisis in 2015? Professor Dr. Timo Meynhardt connects elements from the recent fictional documentary "The Driven Ones" with the Leipzig Leadership Model and today's economic crisis.

Merkel’s Leadership: Crisis Shows the Woman

Almost a year ago, we were able to confer an HHL-honorary doctorate on the German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel for her leadership achievements in the spirit of the Leipzig Leadership Model. This achievement was widely recognized and further fueled the discussion of what good leadership is about – in the classroom and research circles alike.

The one, who contributes, leads – and Chancellor Merkel clearly does so. In the current Covid-19 crisis, it is far too early to re-construct the actual decision flow. We can only follow the news, and history will tell how she actually led herself, her team, and the country as a whole. What is already visible is her idealistic pragmatism of a step-by-step approach in such an extraordinary time of uncertainty.

“Die Getriebenen” showcases what leadership that puts ego second and contribution for the common good first could look like.

Professor Timo Meynhardt

New fictional documentary “The Driven Ones” on Angela Merkel’s leadership style

What a coincidence! In April 2020, the television film “Die Getriebenen” (The Driven Ones) was broadcast for the first time (available in the ARD Mediathek in German until July 15th, 2020). Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Robin Alexander, the film deals with the reconstruction of decision-making processes in the summer of 2015 on the question of how Germany should deal with the refugees who came to Europe from war zones (especially Syria) within a short time and in hitherto unknown numbers.

It will always be easier to make sense of things in retrospect. Actually, meaning in life emerges only by looking backward. Therefore, it is most instructive, to study her leadership style in a situation that came to be called “refugee crisis”.

The film combines the facts, real news broadcasts, and images, real statements by top politicians with fictional dialogues to create an overall picture that could not have been known to a wider public. The audience response and the first film reviews already make the film adaptation seem like a serious perspective on the events of the time.

Similarities to Leipzig Leadership Model

The fictional processing of the historic material reveals various references to the Leipzig Leadership Model seen combined in the four aspects of Merkel’s leadership rue, a metaphor appealing to her famous gesture (sometimes also known as Merkel diamond). Certain behavioral patterns become visible again and again, from scene to scene, and make it clear how the Chancellor unfolds her POWER of leadership.

Don’t forget to check out other inspiring articles from our blog!

Let us apply the rue logic to a couple of film scenes…

Watch the film and check out whether you share this perspective or not! If you find it attractive, you may want to use the rue logic to try and make sense of Chancellor Merkel’s behavior in the next months to come.

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