For a long time I have been observing people who are trying to get into a management career. Often these people have a staff position beforehand or are project managers. So I recommend it in my article too: This is how you become a manager. Now it is important to move up from this point into the management track. But there is clear feedback:

“They are not dominant enough – they have to assert themselves more. Sometimes hit the table and make yourself unpopular. “

But what is the truth of this feedback and why are people in staff units or project management not so dominant?

“Dominance” in the staff position or as a project manager?

The feedback to me, too, was often that I should hit the table harder and that I should “complain” to employees from time to time. But especially as a project manager and in staff positions, I was dependent on the department heads providing me with people and the employees voluntarily implementing my internal projects in addition to their day-to-day business. So what happens when I hit the table? The employees no longer work voluntarily for my staff function and I can do everything on my own. So I could never hit the table. It was always important that I solve everything through some kind of cooperation and that I also plug it in for the benefit of the project. But what about the leadership? Is it different there?

“Dominance” in leadership? Then I’m just sick!

How do I do it right with domination? I also observed what happens when a manager really hits the table. The result was with disciplinary managers: The employees were then sick, have given notice or have changed or have previously changed on Tuesday according to regulations. So it didn’t seem to be going any better. The difference is that you immediately lose the employee in the staff and, as a manager, only delay it a little. As a “toothless tiger” project manager / staff position, you have to make sure that you can win people over voluntarily. So it seemed to be the better solution anyway to find a solution with the employee on a cooperative level.

Of course you have to hit the table and put pressure on both in management and in staff positions, but what exactly is meant by feedback?

Leadership allows this dominance a little more

In the staff unit or as a project manager, I have to behave much less dominantly than when I am in a leadership position. So I think the feedback is rather wrong. If I behave differently, my staff function will suffer and I will certainly not be promoted. Especially I – at a young age – can hardly knock off the table like an experienced manager. It looks ridiculous. So I always have to try to find compromises.


I believe that the feedback on dominance means that you have to learn to hold employees accountable. Set measurable goals and sometimes punish them if they are not achieved. This is possible at any time and it works without “complaining”. I think that especially with this kind of feedback, it should be noted that toothless tigers such as staff units and project managers simply cannot display this dominance.

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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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