Questions & Answers

How do you resolve conflict or deal with difficult situations on the job? Every week our expert Dr. Geertje Tutschka will answer your questions.

Corporate Culture: My boss comes to work even when she’s sick. Most of the time we almost feel guilty about staying back home when we are sick.

This is a good and important example of how often the corporate culture is determined by the behavior of the superiors and others who occupy managerial positions. What seems to deserve a special recognition as a “heroic deed”, however, is in reality a so-called disservice”. An elementary quality as a leader is to assume responsibility – responsibility for oneself and for others.

This formula is very clear in the example of an emergency that arises in the event of a plane crash (first putting on the oxygen mask for yourself, and then helping out others).

This also applies to the parent-child relationship: only healthy and happy parents are responsible, good parents.

When a superior comes to work when they are sick and lets their holidays expire, they do not take responsibility for their own health and regeneration. By repeating this in their function as a superior and leader, they are changing the standards they set for the corporate culture. Their behavior sets an example for others to follow. For me, this is a clear abuse of their leadership skills.

My advice: As an individual in a subordinate function, it can be difficult to oppose the so-called majority, the superior or the supposed norms in a company. Most of them would now submit grumblingly or look for secret escapes. The honest and courageous way, on the other hand, is not to resign oneself to it and to take responsibility for oneself, one’s health and recreation: It is important to question and reflect on this situation. To change it you need additional allies. Colleagues, other institutions and interest groups can be useful here.

This is the only way to show leadership competence. It is your decision!


Geertje Tutschka is the founder and CEO of CLP (Consulting for Legal Professionals), which supports lawyers in their careers around the world with here 25 years of expertise as a corporate lawyer and attorney in Germany, Austria, and the US. Her most relevant topic is leadership. The mother of three daughters is the author of numerous specialist books. Since 2016, she has led the German chapter of the International Coach Federation, the world’s largest association of professional coaches.

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