Leadership: Appearance and Reality

Recently in Berlin: I in a nice hotel room, everything perfectly tiptop, in good spirits and great. In the morning, I notice that in addition to the signs "please do not disturb" and "please clean my room," there is an extra sign that says: "with consideration for the environment, you do not need to clean my room today."

And I think: "Cool idea. Right, it doesn't have to be every day," and I'm about to hang the environmental sign on my room door when a cleaning lady walks by, looks at me regretfully, and then says, "too bad."

I am confused and ask her if she really urgently wants to clean my room. Yes, she really wants to, because as it turns out, she has a commute of an hour and a half and is paid per room that she cleans...in other words, my environmental awareness is deducted directly from her salary.

Whereupon I in turn find the hotel now no longer sooo sympathetic, and get into a strange quandary. What do they imagine I'm going to say to this woman? "Yes, fine, you're earning a little less now, but that shouldn’t it give you a good feeling that you're contributing to environmental protection"? That's so cynical that I have trouble even writing it down.

Least I will bother to say it. On the contrary: if I now have to choose between doing something for the next five hundred years or, in this case, quite specifically refraining from lowering the low income of a poorly paid woman just a little bit more, I don't have to think about it for long. The extra tag flies, and I neatly hang the green one on my door.

The woman is relieved, but asks me not to reveal anything, which immediately makes me feel sad again. I assure her that my lips are sealed, a complicit smile seals our pact against capitalist exploitation, and we go our separate ways. And I have a funny feeling.

It's kind of a bummer for the hotel operators now, isn't it? The noble motivation in the service of future generations doesn't really come across here, I think. And they don't seriously expect that no one will ever know that they don't want to protect the environment so much as their wallets? Because of a few euros? Not cool, guys.

How many uncleaned rooms do they have to save until they've compensated for the fact that I won't be booking with them again?

And how does it look in your company? Does everything fit together between claim, external message, corporate decisions, internal regulations, daily actions? Does it all point in the same direction? Or are there discrepancies and things that you would be a little embarrassed if they came to light?

If so, just don't do them. It's not worth it. Definitely.

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